Scram! DC Shops Install Device That Emits Annoying Sound Only Kids Can Hear

A DC shop on one of the busiest retail strips has installed a “Mosquito” device in order to drive away teenagers who often loiter and fight there. The unit emits an annoying beeep beeep beeep at 17.5 kilohertz, which is at the upper range of audibility for 13-25 year olds. The business owners like it, but one passerby remarked, “It’s classism and ageism. And it’s sad.”

Bonus quote from the device manufacturer: “We have other settings for adults if you have bums hanging around.”

Mosquito noise device at Gallery Place aims to annoy potential troublemakers [Washington Post] (Thanks to VAcooking!)

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  1. Pax says:

    It is most certainly age discrimination, and I hope some of those kids decide to make a (literal) Federal Case out of it, on the grounds of their civil rights being violated.

    • Shadowman615 says:

      My understanding is that the owner of the Gallery Place shopping area installed the thing himself, not the city.

      Not sure if that makes any difference or not.

    • Shadowman615 says:

      My understanding is that the owner of the Gallery Place shopping area installed the thing himself, not the city.

      Not sure if that makes any difference or not.

      • qwerty017 says:

        It wouldn’t as it was found that Malls and such are considered public property in cases such as these.

        • kujospam says:

          Probably considered free speech though. After all, you are not saying you can’t come here, just saying we discourage you from doing so.

      • Tim says:

        RIght, but it’s in a public area. It’s on an external wall of the building, facing an exit to the Metro.

        • SolidSquid says:

          If it’s that loud and audible in a public square (rather than just private property), couldn’t one of the kids put in a noise complaint for it to get it shifted?

    • kc2idf says:

      I am the reason it is not ageism. I am 39 and I can hear 17.5kHz just fine. This is why I am a sound engineer and an audiophile. It is also why I would not be likely to go there.

      • Preyfar says:

        I’m 30, and I can hear those noises crystal clear, and they’re annoying as hell. They’d also lose a shopper out of me.

        In fact, everybody I know except one dude in my friend’s group (27-33) can hear the damn sounds.

      • SonarTech52 says:

        Same here, I can still hear the 17.5kHz just fine and I’m 32… Although I’ve always head great hearing (even though I used to bump the bass in my car).

        I used my exceptional hearing to be a Sonar Tech… yay! lol

      • aka Cat says:

        47, and ditto. Despite riding a motor scooter for several years, and not always wearing earplugs. Though that ‘helped’ a little; I’m no longer driven around the bend by dying fluorescent lights.

      • Shadowfax says:

        33 here and I can hear ‘em just fine, but then I’ve always had freakish hearing.

        I used to be able to tell when someone had turned a computer off but left the monitor on from the shrieking the CRT guns made when they didn’t have any input to send. I probably still could if anyone still used CRT monitors.

        • CoachTabe says:

          Man, thought I was the only one that could do that. I can also hear the whine from power lines. And the 17.5 khz sound referenced in the original post. But I also have trouble hearing people talking if there’s other noise going on. Go figure.

          • hattrick says:

            I am 36 and can hear this, too. I think half my tinnunitis is actually fluorescent lights and other miscellaneous electronic things that most people can’t hear. On a related note, I suspect a lot of ADD is over-diagnosed in kids because they’re actually distracted by the noise of electrical pitches that most adults can’t hear.

            I remember as a kid I figured out that I had to unplug the TV accessories when the TV was turned off, in order to stop the high-pitched noise that bothered me. Drove my parents nuts, because they thought it was all in my head.

      • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

        Ditto. I’m 31 and suffer from tinnitus and (miraculously, after many a rock concert and even a job in metal parts fabrication) still have perfect hearing. I can also hear this frequency and it’s incredibly annoying.

      • arachne says:

        I’m going to be 55 shortly and I can hear the sound very clearly. I’ve even worked in steady state industrial noise when I was younger so statistically I should have lost the high frequencies.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      I don’t believe that anyone has the Constitutional right to loiter and get into fights in a private place.

      • Darrone says:

        But they have a right to BE there without be driven away. This is no different than walking outside and spraying everyone under 25 with a hose. its ridiculous.

        • sleze69 says:

          No one is telling them to leave just like Hot Topic isn’t telling older shoppers to leave by playing its obnoxious loud music.

        • PupJet says:

          Actually, that depends. If the owner of the property says “No”, then they do NOT have the ‘right’ to be there, and to be blatantly honest, if they are starting fights and just ‘loitering’, then they REALLY do not have the right to be there because they are being a public nuisance and possibly driving business away.

    • PhilFR says:

      And a store playing loud music that appeals to teens must know that it’s likely annoy older folks. Is that also discrimination?

      • vastrightwing says:

        Oh, I didn’t read your post… but exactly. I walk by many stores playing loud music I can’t stand, so I would never shop there. This must be some kind of “-ism” we can take them to court over by gosh! Surely it violates some kind of law.

        • Rena says:

          So, are the older folks enjoying the annoying buzz? Are these stores using it to draw them in and help business? Intention is a factor here.

    • Knippschild says:

      I totally agree with you at a personal level.. i’m 21 and I hear it very well (this targets mostly teenagers) , but unfortunately teenagers/kids are not a protected class as far as age goes, so there is no “age discrimination” in this case — at least legally speaking.

      At the moral, social level, I completely agree with you.

      • Toffeemama is looking for a few good Otters says:

        I’m 23 and can hear it very well, it gives me a headache. I’m not sure if my infant and toddler can hear it, but I definitely wouldn’t be shopping there either way.

    • vastrightwing says:

      Then I also demand that stores playing HipHop and Rap music are also called on this, because it keeps people like me away too.

      • annodyne says:

        That’s what they meant when they said, “We have other settings for adults .”

        Uh, sorry, I’ll just head back to the gezer bus now.

    • divedeep says:

      Sorry, but age (in this instance) isn’t a protected class. If the Gallery place was not hiring them because of their age or (way out on a limb) somehow denying them access to education based on their age, then they may have a case.

      Annoying the crap out of kids is still perfectly Constitutional.

    • wiggie2gone says:

      I don’t see any age discrimination here if your refering to the “Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 “

    • nsv says:

      There are two convenience stores near my house (yeah, I live out in the middle of nowhere.) One has kids hanging out in the parking lot all the time. I like that store better, but I gave up on them the night I came out of the store and there were six kids hanging on my car, with a radio on the hood. I looked at them, they didn’t notice me. I got in and slammed the door, they didn’t move. Finally put it in reverse and slowly backed out, and they got ticked at me for making them move.

      I haven’t been back to that store since. Several neighbors won’t go there for that reason, too.

      That store gets the occasional snack and soda or illegal beer sale, but they’ve lost a lot of customers. The other store doesn’t let that happen–they get my money.

  2. MattO says:

    i’m 25, and have had a lot of ear infections in my life – i bet it wouldnt come CLOSE to bothering me, as i wouldnt hear a thing.

    • denros says:

      On the other side of the spectrum, I’m almost 30 and can hear all the way up to 20khz. It’s annoying because there’s a lot of unnoticed noise above 17k+ from various electronics (when someone has a TV on, I can tell just from the sound in the room)

      • kc2idf says:

        The TV will emit 15.56kHz, assuming it to be a CRT at 480i, and 15.60 for a CRT running 576i (for our PALs across the big pond). Yeah, I can hear that, too. It helped to drive me into being an early adopter of HDTV (even lowly 480p is out of my hearing range at 31.12kHz).

        As I posted elsewhere in this thread, I am 39 and can hear 17.5kHz just fine.

      • Preyfar says:

        Likewise. I can walk into a room and hear electronic devices on idle. Drives me insane.

      • ElleAnn says:

        Same here. I’m 30 and I can still hear that tv-on-but-no-picture noise. I would avoid any business which uses the Mosquito.

    • chatterboxwriting says:

      Same with me. I had chronic infections and tubes in my ears TWICE. I have “mild nerve-based hearing loss” at 29; I actually had to leave my job and start my own company because I had too much difficulty hearing clients on the telephone (the fact that everyone else in my office had a nice multi-line phone with volume control while they stuck me with a $15 cordless with two volume settings also played a role…). I took in a doctor’s note and asked them to get me a phone like everyone else, since I had no problems when I was able to use co-workers’ phones, but they hemmed and hawed about it, so I quit.

      • GirlCat says:

        Have you heard of the Americans With Disabilities Act? I’m pretty sure that falls under the reasonable accommodations section. If other workers had the equipment you needed but your employer was unwilling to give it to you even with a doctor’s note, they’re risking a lawsuit. Maybe they were just trying to get you to quit, but that’s a pretty stupid way for them to go about it.

    • qualia says:

      Also 25 with many many ear infections which have left my eardrums scarred up and I hear it fine.

  3. Tim says:

    In before the “but there was a major brawl there in the beginning of August that involved a bunch of youngsters, so this is completely and totally justified.”

  4. Martha Chang says:

    Hasn’t this mosquito thing been disproven time and time again? Actually that’s a rhetorical question, don’t answer it because the answer is yes. There are adults who can hear the noise and teenagers who can’t.

    • shotgun_shenanigans says:

      My father is 48, teaches high school biology. He has students that set this frequency as a ringtone, to try and get away with having cell phones in class. He can hear it all the same, and he relishes in confiscating cell phones.

      • The hand that feeds, now with more bacon says:

        The problem is the students believe that their phones can accurately reproduce the frequency without producing lower frequency sounds along with it. Cell phones’ speakers are of notoriously poor quality. I can hear this high pitched ringtone and I can’t hear anything over about 15.5-16 kHz.

      • Slave For Turtles says:

        Even if a teacher can’t hear it, seeing most of the students jump or suddenly look annoyed at the tone should be clue enough. Some kids have it as their tone for when they receive a text, and it certainly annoys the hell out of me, a much older adult with good hearing. It makes me feel a bit frantic. Kill it with fire!!

    • kathyl says:

      I’m 37, I can hear the mosquito tone clear as a bell. I couldn’t shop there. Such a flawed method of dealing with violence issues in the area.

    • yevarechecha says:

      I’m 22 and cannot hear the tone. I can hear 15k Hz but no higher. At 16k I can hear the click of the tone onset and offset but no actual tone, same at 17k Hz.

    • Conformist138 says:

      When we were younger, my brother didn’t believe the TV made a high-pitched whine when muted. He tried to sneak watching TV by using subtitles, but I could always hear it. Pissed him off to no end, but what are big sisters for?

      So, yeah, this sort of thing is just down to the individual’s hearing. The fact that hearing, along with the rest of the senses, tends to wear out as we age is only one piece of the puzzle. People start as kids more or less sensitive to these upper tones and they age more or less gracefully, so the end result is a more jumbled group of annoyed people.

      • davere says:

        I was just thinking a very similar story. When I was growing up, our TV would emit a high pitch noise. I could never believe that my parents didn’t hear it and they didn’t believe me that it was making that noise.

        Thankfully, smacking the TV in the back would stop it for an hour or two.

        And even more thankfully, my parents never smacked me in the back for doing that.

      • Big Mama Pain says:

        Oh man, I had to laugh about the little brother thing. I could wake up in the middle of the night and be able to tell my brother was downstairs watching tv on mute (most likely Cinemax). I don’t really know how good my hearing is compared to anyone else, but I can always hear if a TV is on muted or on an imput channel.

      • shepd says:

        That’s the flyback transformer (it probably had a loose winding) and the frequency is 15.734 kHz for NTSC (15 kHz for PAL). All CRTs would make a little of this, however, if it’s loud, it’s because the flyback is cheap or broken (or possibly some other part is). The 15.374 kHz is the scan frequency (30 frames at about 525 lines). Of course, if your CRT is a computer monitor, the sound could be a different frequency (or, more likely, inaudible).

        You shouldn’t get it from other TV types, although there are HV transformers in LCDs that can go bad…

        Source: TV repairman.

    • mandy_Reeves says:

      I can hear them…it makes me get stomach cramps and then i get …..well…don’t go into the ladies room after I been in there. A lot of high frequency sounds do that to me. Certain stores I just get so sick I have to leave in the middle of shopping. Mostly electronics stores like best buy or gamestop…they have the tv’s all going and the security alarm things…

  5. nickcv says:

    That’s pathetic. A few people 13-25 loiter and fight, and the businesses drive away potential customers. I’m 22 – does this simple fact mean they don’t want my money?

    • heart.shaped.rock says:

      Sure they want your money. They just don’t want kids hanging out outside the shopping center for no reason whatsoever, bothering people who ARE going to spend money.

      • Michaela says:

        And what if I want to spend my money, but can’t stand to shop there because of that stupid noise?
        I may be young, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have money that I would love to spend while I wander a store for a couple of hours.

        Stores like these just prove to me further that no matter what I do, I will always be treated like a second-class customer until I get a couple of wrinkles (or put on a fake wedding ring, which I do to get better service when I go out to make large purchases).

        • myCatCracksMeUp says:

          Trust me – I feel like a second class citizen in almost every store and restaurant in this entire country. A huge number of them play crappy, sucky stinking, lousy, nauseating, annoying music. It drives me out of stores and stops me from entering stores. I don’t even know what this type of music is called, maybe Pop? Is that still a term for crappy music?

          • Conformist138 says:

            Have you heard these tones? Crappy piped in pop music is lame, but these tones physically cause me pain. I’ve always been sensitive to the upper tones and hearing 17.5khz for longer than a second is enough to split my head open.

            Gotta love the law of unintended consequences:
            Even IF only kids could hear this (we all know that is bullshit, it’s even in the article), there is still the fact that MOST people 13-25 are probably not fighting and causing trouble. These people are still driven mad just by approaching the plaza and thus never go. I don’t know about anyone else, but I tend to stick to places I know well, including my choice of malls or shopping centers. So, a majority of these kids grow up into normal functioning citizens (to the mall, walking credit cards) who, even if they can’t hear the tone anymore, still will associate that mall with pain and discomfort.

            If you alienate an entire younger generation of customers, don’t get mad when in 10 or 20 years no one shows up anymore.

    • Zileto says:

      This is what happened at an outdoor retail area/movie theater in my hometown. They got tired of all the teens, installed this thing, and made ridiculous rules about when teens can be in the area without a parent/guardian/someone old enough to supervise them. The whole place used to be very lively. It’s just defunct now. All the shops and food places either went out of business or moved to a more profitable area. The owner of the complex doesn’t understand why everyone left and continually tries to get the city to lend him money so he can bring in other businesses. The other businesses don’t want to move there because there is no business. Sad story really.

    • mac-phisto says:

      just give me your damn money & get the f- out. NEXT!

  6. Sheogorath says:

    As a 13-25 year old, I am deeply offended.

  7. HalOfBorg says:

    Where can I get one? Or more? One for the living room, the computer, the kitchen………

  8. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Isn’t telling loiterers and people fighting to scram the job of the security officers?

    Though I don’t know how you’re supposed to tell if someone is loitering in a mall. Is window shopping illegal? How long can you rest at one of those benches before you get in trouble?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I think this is installed on one of the walls outside the metro station, so there aren’t any security people from the stores out there. It would have to be DC police or transit police, and I’m pretty sure transit police jurisdiction only applies until the escalators or stairs stop. The street belongs to city police.

  9. Random_Tangent says:

    I can hear it, and frankly if it’s loud enough to cause discomfort, I think i’d feel assaulted.

    • Gandalf the Grey says:

      I can’t really hear anything above 16KHz, but I can feel up to 20KHz. It’s hard to describe, but it feels like there is a change in air pressure. It’s not comfortable at all, it makes me feel on edge and I tend to get pretty short with people if I’m around it for so long.

      I couldn’t figure out why I was always in such a bad mood when I would go to a local mall until I saw an article about their noise generators. Now it’s simple, I just don’t go there.

      I’m 27, and these will keep me from spending my money at a store.

  10. phrekyos says:

    “Now, we just have to invent a device only black people can hear…”, they thought.

  11. Dapper Dan says:

    I, like others over the age listed can hear it. Regardless of what it’s called (classism and ageism) this store will most likely loose more in sales from people like me, then old people who were afraid to go into the store because of teenagers outside.

  12. herbie says:

    The EU has determined these devices to be a violation of human rights. Srsly.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/jun/20/teenager-repellent-mosquito-banned-europe

    • dreamfish says:

      Well, a recommendation by the Council of Europe (separate from the EU) but still welcome IMHO. As far as I’m concerned, it comes under the category of ‘collective punishment’.

      I’m sure if it went to court, the ruling would be against use of them.

    • peebozi says:

      the EU also believes water boarding and other forms of torture are a violation of human rights…so, that shows you how much they know!

  13. LD says:

    This has been used in Europe for years.

  14. momtimestwo says:

    There was an episode of CSI a year or 2 ago that had in it a cell phone with a ringtone that only younger people could hear. We went online later, looked it up to see if it was true, found one and downloaded it, and sure enough my daughter (8) and son(5) could hear it, my husband (35) thought he could hear it, and I couldn’t hear it at all (42).

    • Dapper Dan says:

      ive heard stories of kids in high school using that, because the teacher can’t hear it.

    • Chaosium says:

      “We went online later, looked it up to see if it was true”

      It’s true that people sell “magic” ringtones, it’s not true that mp3s and cell phone speakers are capable of reproducing very high tones without artifacting. It’s a novelty gimmick, there’s no real science behind whatever’s being sold.

      • psm321 says:

        Not true, at least with several Android phones I’ve seen. They can produce the annoying high-pitched tone that older folks can’t hear. Though I know lots of people over 25 that can hear them.

    • Xene says:

      I downloaded an app for my phone that will play different frequencies, no one in the house can hear the higher frequencies except my 11 year old daughter. Her only problem (as with most kids) is selective hearing.

    • armchair lactivist says:

      My husband is outside that age range, but must have supersonic hearing, because he can hear those tones. My kids can, too. I, on the other hand, hear nothing.

  15. quail says:

    Nothing new here. For years, businesses that have a problem with kids loitering have played certain styles of classical music that have been shown to disperse their non-buying butts to other corners of a mall.

    Trust me. If a company thinks that they can make money off of you, then they will. If you and your demographic show that you don’t make purchases and you keep paying customers from easily approaching the store, they will do something about it.

    Know why The Hard Rock Cafe plays loud rock music? They found it causes table turnover to be triple that if they didn’t. Want to have a nice conversation? Hard Rock wants your tourist butt out of their seats so that they next in line can buy their overpriced food.

    Sound has been used for a long time to control crowds.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      So just play the freaking classical music then. How is the whine better when you’re irritating the older people who can hear it and missing the teens who can’t.

  16. SagarikaLumos says:

    I’m 32 (33 this month), and I can hear the “Teen Buzz” sounds and I could hear up through the 17 kHz tone on webpage that I found to test high-frequency hearing. That’s unusual for people my age. While I can understand the shopkeeps’ reasons for doing this, I can promise that I wouldn’t be hanging around, either. And I earn and spend money. They need to think, too, of the parents who can’t hear it who are inadvertently torturing their stroller-bound children as they shop. This isn’t the right way to keep hoods out of your store.

    • Shadowman615 says:

      Shit. I’m your age and couldn’t hear any of these — even the 12 khz for below 50 years old.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrewnzQYrPI

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        I can hear all the way up to 17.5 but only in my right ear. In my left I get up to 16.

      • Conformist138 says:

        Ouch. I heard every single one of those clear as a bell (i’m 25), but that last one would probably induce a killer headache if it lasted longer than a second.

    • teke367 says:

      I can still hear them too, I’m 30. And as much as I think its wrong to have these things, I never seem to get too mad, because I’m always so happy that I’m “young enough” to still hear it, I forget what I was mad about to begin with.

    • ludwigk says:

      I’m 32, but I have exceptional upper range hearing. From hearing tests, I can hear way above 17.5khz. This is just stupid and annoying. I don’t ever go to DC, so I’m relatively safe for now.

    • Etoiles says:

      I’m almost 30 and I can hear it. My high-range hearing is very sensitive. It’s annoying as hell.

  17. Minj says:

    Many of the blogs and news agencies are leaving out this little tidbit.

    “According to Gallery Place, the Mosquito installed in the Metro plaza is set to a tone that can be heard by people of all ages.”

    They are trying to reduce loitering in general, not just with kids.

  18. LINIStittles says:

    As a 24 year old that works two blocks from the retail strip that this was installed at, and as someone who patronizes the bars along the strip after dark, I fully support this move. Without exaggerating at all, I cannot remember the last time I went out around here at night and there weren’t kids getting arrested or about to get arrested because they were pummeling each other in the area.

    Two stipulations:
    1. I don’t really see this being useful during the day, as there are no problems during the day. Perhaps it should only be turned on at night.
    2. NBC Washington says that the frequency of the device that was installed is set to a level that all ages can hear. Jus’ sayin’. http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local-beat/Anti-Loitering-Device-Installed-at-Gallery-Place-101903703.html

    Also, I haven’t heard this yet while walking by – maybe it hasn’t been turned on, or maybe I just can’t hear.

    • dreamfish says:

      So your argument is that if some young people are fighting and representing a threat, instead of dealing them them specifically it is better to declare all young people guilty and punish them accordingly?

      … or are they merely ‘collateral damage’ that you actually couldn’t give a f*ck about?

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        What really gets me about the blanket policy is that I’m 26, so that makes me more responsible than my friends who are 24 and 25? What about the drunken frat guys who stumble out of the bars at midnight? Are they more responsible than the 20 year old who is trying to go home from her retail job? I think a small police presence would be more of a deterrent for ALL individuals to do stupid things.

        • LINIStittles says:

          I’m sorry but is anyone actually looking into the facts of this? Once again, it is audible to ALL AGES.

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            Yes, it’s audible to all ages, but the statements make it clear they consider a certain age range to be troublemakers.

      • LINIStittles says:

        My argument is that given the amount of time I spend in this area and the prevalence of violence that I see, I am of the opinion that the device is the lesser of two evils. Like I said, this isn’t a case of occasional violence – it’s there all of the time!

        And as I pointed out, Consumerist failed to mention that this is audible to all ages. If people don’t like it they won’t shop there. There is nothing so special in this area that it isn’t available at other places in DC.

  19. shaner55418 says:

    The reputation that your business is in a bad neighborhood will drive away more actual, paying customers than this Mosquito will. My mom wont go to the mall near her because there was a shooting there ONCE, and that was 11 years ago. I know people who haven’t been to the Mall of America since 1995, when there was a small rash of gang activity and they have since instilled loitering and chaperone laws. The kids will come and go, but customers will make their buying choice elsewhere if there is a reduced chance of risk, real or not.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      It’s really only the tourists who would ever be convinced that Gallery Place is a bad neighborhood. Crap happens there, but crap happens everywhere and in every city. Gallery Place is actually one of the nicest areas in DC. It’s how you get to Verizon Center and Chinatown, so there are a lot of businesses there.

      • tsukiotoshi says:

        Precisely. I used to go through Gallery Place to get to work every day and I still like to go out there in the evenings since it has a pretty good night life. There is a fun independent theater out that way, as well. I never really found it dangerous, or at least not any more dangerous than anywhere else in DC. I always notice a lot of young people out there but it never seemed problematic to me. Except one night a cop just suddenly started yelling at these people standing in front of the Mcdonald’s. As far as I could see they weren’t doing anything, but I suppose if there have been all these fights perhaps he was on edge. Ah well.

        Anyway I’ll hit up Gallery Place and see if I can tolerate the noise and if not I’ll just switch to Metro Center and walk.

        I think I got really off topic here.

  20. Shadowman615 says:

    The city didn’t install it, one private shop-owner did.

  21. hoi-polloi says:

    Mike Gibson, president of Moving Sound Technologies, was quoted as saying, “The bottom line is that the Mosquito is installed where 13- to 25-year-olds aren’t supposed to be. Adults just walk through the sound.”

    That statement is absurd. At 25, I had been living with my partner for several years. She was gainfully employed, and I was wrapping up graduate school. I’d love for Mr. Gibson to tell me where he feels I should have spent my early to mid-20s. Then he can kindly screw off.

    • packy says:

      Yeah, that struck me, too. That age range is 5 years worth of being a minor, and 7 years worth of adulthood.

      Besides, I’m 42 and I can still hear those high frequencies.

  22. PlumeNoir - Thank you? No problem! says:

    I remember the SecurityNow podcast talked about this a while back. They played the tone, but thankfully, my cheap $5 earbuds didn’t have the range to handle it.

    However, I ran some tests using just my laptop speakers (and having someone else play the 15, 16 17 and 18 kHz tones). I have excellent hearing and if I ever went into a store and heard that, I’d turn around and walk out; it was a nails-on-chalkboard type of experience.

  23. Mewf says:

    This made me terribly sad when I Googled it and found out I can’t hear the 17khz 24 & younger tone (I’m 27)…I feel so old now.

  24. DovS says:

    It’s not as narrowly targeted as the maker claims. I’m 39 and I can hear that thing.

  25. SuperSnackTime says:

    This isn’t ageism as this is largely a non-voting group who are unlikely to militarize in a coherent fashion and force gov’t institutions to recognize them.

    Now if there was a frequency that could deter 70-year olds from standing around or near posh, high-fashion outlets, this would most certainly be ageism. ;)

    And really… this is the lame-ass way we’re dealing with ‘those darn kids’ now? When Captain McOld Pants talks about today’s spineless/disconnected youths, I wonder where they may be picking up those leet skillz…

    • mac-phisto says:

      lol! totally true, though. i remember looking for an apartment a few years back & experiencing that firsthand. i saw a “for rent” sign at a major complex & walked inside. there was a huge sign on the wall that stated “DISCRIMINATION IN HOUSING BASED ON AGE IS AGAINST THE LAW” w/ the relevant federal & state laws quoted underneath. when i asked the receptionist what was available for rent, she replied, “oh, i’m sorry hun. you’re not old enough to live here – you have to be at least 55.”

      XD

  26. Andyb2260 says:

    There is no legal “age discrimination” for people under 18.
    Under 16s can’t drive, is that “discrimination”?
    Under 18s can’t vote, is that “discrimination”?
    Under 21s can’t drink, is that “discrimination”?
    The device is legal and is installed on private property, and the owners can do pretty much anything they want with their property(as long as it is legal)

    • aloria says:

      And I’m 28 and can still hear those things. Your point?

      • wrjohnston91283 says:

        Young people aren’t a legally protected class like older people are. Therefore, its not legally discrimination.

      • Rachacha says:

        And unless your are loitering outside the store front it should not be an issue, simply an unpleasant localized sound, no more unpleasant than an emergency vehicle with its sirens on passing you by on the same street. Your point?

        • tsukiotoshi says:

          I don’t know, that noise physically pains me. Even minutes afterward I can feel an ache in my ears. I do not experience that with an ambulance or other emergency vehicle.

        • Concat says:

          So the sounds selectively chooses to annoy loiterers as opposed to passerbys and/or customers?

        • aloria says:

          I guess you can’t hear the noise. It is physically painful to hear for more than a few seconds. I actually get nauseated listening to it. So walking from one store to another, yes, would drive me fucking nuts.

    • PlumeNoir - Thank you? No problem! says:

      Out of curiosity, what about noise pollution? There are local ordinances against that, right?

      • McKay says:

        No, not really. The D.C. Council declined to adopt an effective noise ordinance, so it’s pretty much a free-for-all in terms of what you can do sound-wise in that neighborhood.

    • proliance says:

      How about a 6 month old baby in a stroller? Can she hear it?

      I’d call it battery to deliberately cause discomfort to a baby because mom, who can’t hear the noise, stops in front of the store.

    • shepd says:

      Unless you’re emancipated, yes, in all those cases except the last, for the vast majority of people, it isn’t age discrimination under the law.

      In the case of alcohol (and often cigs) I think there’s a case to be made. If you can vote, if you can tell your parents to stuff it, you’re moving out, if you can be put in prison without your parents knowing, yup, you shouldn’t be told no.

      And, quite frankly, having the limits that high is exactly why young adults experiment with alcohol illegally in uncontrolled circumstances and often pay the price with their lives. It’s much better if they learn to have a drink in a bar at 18 instead of funneling beers behind closed doors at an initiation.

  27. Rachacha says:

    The device is simply to discourage loitering. It might be annoying to those using the Metro or visiting those shops, but it is not harmful and simply encourages people to keep moving. That Metro entrance is always crowded, usually with people just hanging out so this will hopefully encourage those people to move elsewhere.

  28. badcomedian says:

    wow, someone got a few too many wedgies to be so afraid of some youngsters.

  29. aloria says:

    13-25? Uh, when I was 21 I was making $53,000 a year and my only real expenses (besides rent & food) was a minor student loan payment. Good job with torturing the age range with some of the highest amounts of disposable income, idiots.

  30. DcChick says:

    Gallery Place is indeed a crazy place to be on most nights. Throngs of kids mill around screaming, cursing, fighting. Last year on Valentines day after a dinner and movie at Gallery Place, a couple seedy looking teenagers got on our train home. I’ve never been intimidated by the thugs that stare at you on the train before..but something about this one…
    Anyway, we got off our stop and he was 8 inches in front of me waiting on the door to open when suddenly the kids he was fighting at Gallery Place got off the train car in front of us, ran around, and shot him where he stood. Right there. 8 inches away from me. Having lived in two of the roughest ‘hoods in DC (Trinidad and Anacostia) I shouldn’t have been surprised..but it seriously scared the bejeez outta me.
    If the Mosquitos had been there, the kids wouldn’t have been there…and I wouldn’t have almost gotten killed. Bring ‘em on.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      No, I think they’d just be listening to music on their iPods or something. Or, from my experience, screaming, talking, and laughing so loudly that the mosquito whine is drowned out anyway.

  31. SerenityDan says:

    I’m 30 and I can hear22 khz so eff you store. What would they have to do if they had a 30 year old employee like me I wonder?

    • Selunesmom says:

      Well, clearly they are passive aggressively saying not to apply there if you’re 16-25 or can hear that frequency.

  32. RayanneGraff says:

    I can hear these sounds too, but I don’t blame the owner for doing this. I wouldn’t want a bunch of punk kids hanging around my store either. Personally, I find myself shopping somewhere else if the store I want to go to is full of obnoxious teenagers. It’s his store, he has a right to do this. Yes, it’s ageism, but if so many teenagers didn’t act like douchebags, maybe this kind of ageism wouldn’t be necessary.

    Oh, and get off my lawn.

  33. MuffinSangria says:

    Anyone know a good, legitimate site where you can test if you can hear the tone? I could hear every frequency on all but one site and am much older than the target audience.

  34. brinks says:

    I can see wanting to keep rowdy teenagers out, but that’s a pretty big age range. Plenty of people in their early 20′s have good jobs and money to spend. Since when is a 25-year-old a “kid” anyway? I’m out of that age range, but I’m just as offended as someone who is.

    Oh, and someone should tell them that some grown-ups steal, fight, and cause trouble, too.

  35. mobiuschic42 says:

    Man, I remember doing some of my first mom-free clothes shopping at Gallery Place when I was 16. Guess they just don’t want kids’ money.

  36. JayPhat says:

    “It’s classism and ageism. And it’s sad.”

    Perhaps he should just start shooting them. Oh wait, this is DC……

  37. LD says:

    “but one passerby remarked, ‘It’s classism and ageism. And it’s sad.’”

    Trying to figure out how its classism. Do lower class people hear in different ranges than upper class people?

    • DcChick says:

      Classism because it’s poor black kids that don’t have money to spend. Period. Until you actually see Gallery Place on a Friday night…you have no idea how bad it is. Half the time you can’t even get upstairs because 50 people are gathered together, most of them screaming and cursing. I’ve saw people walk in, take one look, then walk back outside. I’ve also saw people not even make it in the front door because of the kids loitering outside.
      I’m saying kids here, but they’re not yer normal kids. Some of these kids are gun toting scary people, I know because I came within inches of getting shot by one of them.

      • pantheonoutcast says:

        Sounds like rational prevention, rather than “classism” to me. I wouldn’t want a bunch of high-strung, ghetto kids with guns – black, white, purple – hanging around like pack animals looking for trouble in front of my business either.

      • LD says:

        Its still not classism if it doesn’t specifically target a specific class. Just because its mainly one group that’s being affected doesn’t mean that group is being targeted. So fail on classism claims.

  38. Suaveydavey says:

    I’m 12 and what is this?

  39. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    I can hear it, and if it was at 100 decibels, it would probably scramble my brain O_o

  40. Brandroid says:

    Everyone, I think we’re all failing to see the most important thing about this story…They used something from my photo stream to accompany it. :D

  41. INsano says:

    Instead of seriously addressing homelessness, truancy, dropouts, drug use and poverty, just push it to the next street corner.

    If you live in a swamp, you can’t be shocked there will be mosquitoes. Trying to kill mosquitoes is futility…why not drain the swamp and try to address the problem at its source via prevention?

    I’m sure someone more clever than I can whip up a more entertaining analogy that properly demonstrates the idiocy of such efforts.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      No, your analogy makes perfect sense.

      We need to hunt down the parents of these loitering, trouble making youths and “drain” them.

      I’m on board.

  42. mythago says:

    Has someone pointed out to the device managers that teenagers have this newfangled device called “earphones” which attach to “portable music devices”? They can’t hear your stupid Mosquito tone over whatever that goddamn music is they call noise.

  43. allnitecp says:

    “Gallery Place” is not a business, but an urban mixed use development (if that hasn’t been pointed out already).

    I work in this area and I can’t begin to tell you how distracting it is to have youth wreaking havoc on the street corner of 7th and H St NW in DC. It’s down right dangerous to. Most of these youth are engaging in underage drinking and smoking while loitering. There are no where near enough Police officers in this area either.

    The aged vagrants (notice I did not call them homeless, because most of them are domiciled) are just as bad as the youth in this area as well.

    This street corner is also frequented by the “Isrealite Church of DC” for their racist and hate filled speeches on Friday afternoons.

    My co-workers and I call this area ‘The Gauntlet’ since it is not always safe for single women, or single men for that matter, to walk around in.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      There really isn’t a place in the entire country in which it’s 100% safe for a lone person to walk around in, so I don’t consider it much of an issue. Would I rather walk alone on the street at Gallery Place than, say, Anacostia? Yeah, but it doesn’t mean that Gallery Place is a war zone. I’ve never found it to be dangerous and I walk alone there all the time – keep your wits about you and be as aware and alert as you would be anywhere else.

  44. Thomas W3 says:

    Mixed bag; on one hand, it makes terrible sense as a business owner, because you are missing out on potential income from youthful customers. On the other, who knows just how bad the situation had to get before this all went down as it did…it can be discouraging to patrons to visit a store when crowds loiter in front, which is not fair to the business itself.

    We’re so fond of extremes in this country…whether out of ignorance or an inflated sense of entitlement, that middle of the road solutions often go overlooked.

  45. rambo76098 says:

    They’re probably going to have to add vandalism to the list of things that happen there, as some kid is going to get fed up and rip that thing off the wall by any means necessary. I would, this is age discrimination pure & simple.

  46. Geekmom says:

    Um.. I’m in my 30s and I can hear that annoying noise.

  47. valthun says:

    The problem is that I can hear it too. Truth be told that its similar to an old crt tube but at a higher frequency, so its not like they will leave because its going on, its just annoying.

  48. Thyme for an edit button says:

    They interviewed the inventor on NPR. It was pretty interesting. I am 30 and could hear it. I guess it only becomes annoying after 10 mins or so. If it bothered me, I wouldn’t shop there. I am less likely to shop there if there are drunken or fighting teenagers hanging around at the store though.

  49. jefeloco says:

    The city of Park Rapids, MN got sick of young hooligans years back cruising up and down the “drags” so they put stop signs at every intersection downtown.

    This didn’t stop the cruising or loitering and only pissed off the elderly citizens who had to stop all the time.

  50. Jimmy60 says:

    A few years ago when my kids were still teenagers I downloaded this sound and played it. Judging by the reactions of my two kids I now consider playing this sound to be assault. Seriously, it causes pain.

  51. FrugalFreak says:

    I can’t hear any of the versions…WIN!

  52. xredgambit says:

    I can hear up to 18K I think. I have a “dog whistle app” on my EVO. My son loves the app. He sits there and plays with it. I play with it. The sounds don’t bother me and I can hear them. I wouldn’t be bothered by it. But if I went to a store that had one, I’d set my device to 14 or 15k and let that play through my phone and drive everyone else away. Heck, just buy an annoyatron and set it in the store somewhere. Get even if you can.

  53. XianZomby says:

    “I’ll never shop there again.”

    Do it! There are more than 300 million people in this country that will.

    Businesses calculate risk, cost, value, customer demographics, etc. Your being indignant at being singled out for what you are, a nuisance, is not going to put anybody out of business.

    I challenge you to not shop there, and see if they go out of business because you stopped.

    I’ll go twice to spite you, and enjoy shopping even more in the absence of your self-righteous sense of entitlement.

  54. Whtthfgg says:

    As far as I am concerned, people that have a problem with this are just looking for something to whine about.

    If you are loitering….you are likely a nuisance…..simply put….dont loiter

  55. DWMILLER says:

    Does it have a “wife wants to talk” mode?

  56. physics2010 says:

    Bump it down to 13khz and turn it up…I still can’t hear it.

  57. Maous says:

    These things seem a bit beyond annoying- they hurt after awhile for some folks, myself included. If you want kids to stop loitering, go out with a broom and pull the “You youngsters git of my properteh!” line, blaring a sound that irritates and pains some folks is just… fucked up, to be honest.

  58. anime_runs_my_life says:

    I’m 35 and I can hear those things. They’re annoying not just for kids, but for those of us who can hear it too.

  59. iblamehistory says:

    “The bottom line is that the Mosquito is installed where 13- to 25-year-olds aren’t supposed to be,” Gibson said. “Adults just walk through the sound.”

    As a 24 year old with a husband who is almost 25 years old, there is NO PLACE in which we “aren’t supposed to be.” The “bottom line” is that we are “supposed” to be in any public place in which we wish to be.

  60. qbubbles says:

    (This is going on the third page, so no one will read it… but…)

    There’s a Harris Teeter in Bristow with the damn mosquito tone and I go out of my way not to shop there as it physically hurts my ears. I’m 26. And I make a damn good salary, too. Fuck ‘em.

  61. tundey says:

    As you can see clearly below, it’s not the manufacturer that said the “bum” quote above:

    “It drives kids crazy,” said Don Hemingway, vice president for business development at Miracle Recreation Equipment, a Missouri company that uses the Mosquito as part of a larger security device sold to playground owners. “It’s pretty cool stuff. It gets in your head and it’s just annoying, and you just want to get the heck out of there. We have other settings for adults if you have bums hanging around.”

  62. Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

    Whatever happened to just playing classical music over the speakers outside? That usually does the trick getting rid of loitering teenagers with nothing better to do – they do that at a couple of subway stations and a few 7-11s I’ve walked by. I personally can hear 17.5kHz, and I’m quite older than 25.

  63. JeremieNX says:

    I just played the samples provided on http://www.movingsoundtech.com/ and found that 14 khz (designed for “45 and under”) was the highest I could hear. This device has been proven ineffective over and over. I would also never patronize a business with one of these devices installed.

    In addition, there are some tones that I am VERY sensitive to and will even cause me severe headaches or migraines. The tone they set for 60 and under would cause serious pain (beyond that of minor discomfort) if I had to endure that for even a minute or two. I could see lawsuits being filed just because of how painful it can be for some people.

  64. crazydavythe1st says:

    I’m 22, and I can hear frequencies that high. I wouldn’t consider them annoying on their own, though. It’s mostly just the issue of a persistent noise being annoying. The electron guns in the old CRT TVs are a little annoying to me because of the persistence of the sound while watching the TV, not because of pain or anything like that. If I was looking to start trouble, this wouldn’t do a damn thing to stop me.

    It mostly just makes the business owner look stupid.

  65. crazydavythe1st says:

    Actually I checked the http://www.movingsoundtech.com/ link that someone provided. I can hear the 17.5kHz but it doesn’t bother me. If I go lower to 16 kHz though, it drives me nuts. On the other hand, anything lower than 15 kHz doesn’t bother me.

    I think this demonstrates one case where the device COULD be ineffective. In my case, only the 15 and 16 kHz sounds bother me. The site suggests that it should disperse everyone under a certain age, but I would think it would disperse those people for which the sound is at the extreme end of their hearing range.

  66. oblivious87 says:

    I googled “Ringtones only kids can hear” and this site gives you a bunch of different tones at different frequencies… I’m basically deaf as I can only hear up to 14.1kHz… :( I guess I’d be a 23 year old who could shop at this store without getting pissed off hah!

    http://www.ultrasonic-ringtones.com/

  67. Hungry Dog says:

    http://theoatmeal.com/quizzes/sound/

    If anyone is interested in hearing this sound.

  68. cheezfri says:

    It’s ageist, noise pollution, public nuisance, and I’m sure a few other things. I’d be tempted to get one installed though :)

  69. Bkhuna says:

    If you want to keep 13-25 year olds away, why not just play some music that has intelligible lyrics and a something they use to call a melody.

  70. msky says:

    the argument will be that a retail shop provides public space and hence the freedom of speach and right of assembly will be infringed. get over it. kids loitering in front of your business is nt a good advertisement.

    I am in UK and this was ‘big’ news long time ago. noone gave a toss.

  71. Calgal says:

    Back in the day, the local jewelry store (among others) used a security system that emitted a tone so piercing it made me cover my aching ears. My mom thought I was making it up.

  72. peebozi says:

    a typical company in this position would simply say “we believe the kids enjoy this sound” and pay a few kids to claim they like it…no different then buying off politicians.

  73. beeship says:

    I think that’s ridiculous. I’m 24 and I’ve never loitered or been in a fight in my life. I don’t know what they’re selling but I’d never buy it even if it was the last place on earth to shop. Jerks.

  74. Not Given says:

    I’m 53 and I can hear the whine at 13KHz, anything above that I just hear a low pitched hum if I turn up the volume. http://www.movingsoundtech.com/
    Once some of the guys working for the city here were playing around with a dog whistle after work, the meter readers were carrying them to fend off bad dogs. Someone blew on it and a guy, an EMT, disappeared. They found him laying on the ground behind a truck holding his head. Nobody else heard a thing but it was so painful to the guy it literally knocked him off his feet.

  75. AD8BC says:

    I remember when I was a kid (late 70s) there was an intersection with sonic sensors for the traffic signals… My parents couldn’t believe me when I said I could hear them…

  76. CookiePuss says:

    Lol nice pic. The snarl just aint the same without the gold tooth though. At least put some gold nail polish on em or somethin.

    • CookiePuss says:

      Oh, and growing up in Keansburg NJ which is a 1 mile sqaure NJ town with a boardwalk did the same types of things with kids. Cops would hassle you to keep walking even if you were standing outside a store right near the boardwalk with a few friends, it was insane.

      One time I was playing some arcade game in the laundry mat where you had to hit the buttons really fast to make the guy confess–it was some cop game ironically. The lady never said a word to me to leave, she just called the cops and they dragged me out right in the middle of the game! I think most cops and business owners just hate kids. :(

  77. legolex says:

    I’d like to say that I don’t have a problem with dispersing large groups of people (young and old) who loiter and cause trouble. I don’t personally want to shop with a bunch of loiterers or teenage kids that have to cut into other people by yelling stuff and embarrassing them just to look cool in front of their friends. This goes for older frat boys who can’t let go of their hey-day high school / college days. Bring on the sounds and security. I’m 27 and I like to shop/eat in peace.

  78. jaredwilliams says:

    Yeah I never hear those stupid things anyways. A privately owned business can choose who to cater to and in what age group in which to do it. Classism has nothing to do with it, it didn’t say “rich kids only” it said “no kids”. They must have good reason, like kids don’t ever buy anything and break their merchandise, steal, and cause fights. That’s the reason that they cite here. Ageism isn’t a true prejudice in this case, because these kids aren’t buying customers. I’d be pissed though if I went in there as a legit customer (im 23 and I have never been a hoodlum anyways). I also never loiter though.

  79. kmw2 says:

    Oh how I wish only kids could hear them. I hear them just fine, thanks, and I’m 34.

  80. shepd says:

    Well, I guess I’m old enough not to hear it. I was there on Saturday. :D

    And yes, it was full of people. Some young, some old There’s a movie theatre there. Of course it’s full of people. If you don’t want that, remove the theatre. And the bowling alley. Sheesh!

  81. bumblefoot2004 says:

    Someone should write a rap song with the beep beep beep sound as its main riff. Nelly? Coolio?

  82. omg says:

    Can you hear me NOW?