Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Loitering teens a problem?


This story about an anti-teen-loitering device put a kick into my late afternoon. My thoughts:

1) First off, the product is The Mosquito and it's made by a company called Kids Be Gone. If this doesn't reek of an April Fool's Day article, I don't know what does. Looks real from the website, though.

2) The Mosquito Fact Sheet (pdf) tells me that "it's not a weapon, it is not violent, and it does not hurt." When data has been collected, police calls have been reduced by 80%-100%. (No police calls at all? We could substitute police with Mosquitos?) The real kicker comes in the lower right hand corner of the first page-- "increases the quality of life of those affected by anti-social behavior." I think they meant social behavior, but nonetheless, this device is all about the redistribution of quality of life! Is the redistribution of quality of life all about imposing externalities on others? A loud stereo does that; so do anti-drinking and anti-smoking laws. What else has the same effect?

3) Is there really a frequency that only teens and young adults can hear? I'm not buying this. I'd agree that your hearing generally declines with age, but everyone loses the same frequency at roughly the same age? (They mention blasting your iPod could help you out against the Mosquito...) Biologists of TPS, that one's on you. Also, unknown possible long term health effects? I don't see that being an issue, especially if you could iPod blast yourself away from it affecting you at all. (That would have a long term effect, but that's quite known.)

4) I can understand the uproar over installing these in public places; equal protection under the law, of course. If you have trouble with people loitering in public places, don't make it a public place. But private companies using it to protect their property? What's the problem here? I suppose the largest issue would be spillovers beyond their property line, but that's not addressed as an issue in the article. Could it really be upheld in court that a harmless device (up for debate, I'm sure) used to defend your property would be illegal to use? Lawyers of TPS, that one's all you.

5) By the way, I've been to that movie theater in Great Barrington, and I can't imagine loitering being a problem...though I suppose it has been a few years. But if there's any town in America that can act collectively and ban something, it's Great Barrington. They've banned cell phone towers for a while now; this article speaks about it briefly near the end. Have fun this summer, Dave!

15 comments:

middle said...

I have a high functioning autistic child and noises like this device emits cause him physical, extreme pain. Screaming, tantrums, cringing, lashing out, hitting his ears and head...that is the behavior this device caused when we walked near one.
Its cruel and disgusting to market an item that tortures disabled children like this. I've spoken to many parents of special needs children in our community and every single one of them has reported problems when their child went near the mosquito.

Justin M Ross said...

I remember a few years ago a cell phone ring being marketed to High School students that was on a frequency that their teachers wouldn't be able to hear. I'm guessing it's the same frequency.

Anonymous said...

I'm 42 and I can hear the tone just fine. it's only 17 KHz I can easily hear sounds well above that.

Anonymous said...

I am 41 and I can also hear it. It causes me great pain. I can hear up to a 21 KHz tone most of the time.

I am not litigious, but if I run into one of these 'in the wild' I will be reviewing options with my attorney.

Anonymous said...

Whichever business employs the Mosquito should have their handy man ready. I won't lie, if I encountered this as a teenager I would probably throw rocks at it. Oh don't I love bitter old people.

Anonymous said...

I'm 22.. and I can hear it too... so wtf... as an adult I have to run from this sound because I have good hearing? Since when did loitering become such a problem... the world is seriously becoming f'd up... why don't we just ring that sound when there are protesters outside too? Then we can do it whenever we hear something we don't like ... then we'll increase the range of the sound to cause physical pain...

Yep, good invention. Now there is a way to mind-control children basically. Do whatever I say or I'll play the sound... I bet they play this sound in darkened rooms where the US tortures people.

Matt said...

I am a teenager myself. I like to think of myself as a bit more mature though. Teenagers annoy me just as much as they annoy anyone else, but I think this is a bit too much. There is nothing legally wrong with it, and it apparently works, but I think its a bit too much. I've never seen (or heard) one in use, but I think it is a bit too much. Find another way to get ther teenagers to scram.

Anonymous said...

I'm 48, have tinnitus in both ears and diminished hearing in one ear and I had no problem hearing it at all.

Anonymous said...

I don't see where simple loitering is a problem, kids hang out. Unfortunately though some don't just hang out and maybe if their parents trained the snot nosed brats when they were little to be responsible and act civilized businesses/people would not be sick of them and feel the need to resort to the 'Mosquito'.

And guess what I am not old or bitter, I'm 26. It's sad and pathetic that as an adult the same old high school rules apply - a select few can manage to make the masses suffer.

Anonymous said...

They most likely originally created this device for Adults. To get this technology to market they created one for teens because a lot of adults fear teenagers because of all the bad press. How long do you think it will be before they start using this on adults? You can get real creative with a devices of this nature. Imagine a world where you could program these things to punish people who swear or say the wrong things that other believe we should not say. Do you still think it's a great idea for little brats who will then be adults? Remember expansion is the motivation of all businesses... Dollar Bills Y'all

Anonymous said...

Speaking of creative instead of manufacturing a device aimed at teenagers maybe they need a sender/receiver device for pedophiles. Implant a receiver in the convicted child rapist/molester and place sending units at schools, playgrounds, daycares etc. and when they come within 100 yards of said areas their genitalia should burst into flames.

Anonymous said...

We seem to forget the "ghetto blasters" of the 80's and early 90's. They were audio devices played at high volumes by teens and designed to drive away (or at least annoy) adults.

It's come full circle. Score 1 for the adults. :)

TheEvilandGood said...

I am by all means a law abiding young adult, but if run into of these things it's going down...


Adults wouldn't tolerate these if they could hear them, and neither should teenagers.

tony said...

I will do my best to discretely destroy this device if I run across one. Imagine if only a certain race could hear this sound. Would that be fundamentally any different? You don't get to pick your race OR your age. Why the double standard?

Bryce said...

Ha! This post and the comments are incredibly entertaining.

As one of the 'Biologists,' I'll just mention that the ability to hear high frequencies does diminish with age. However, it is unlikely to ever be as cut-and-dry as Kids Be Gone would like. The product is actually made by Compund Security Systems, a UK company, and marketed here in the US by Kids Be Gone: http://www.compoundsecurity.co.uk/index.html

There are also likely to be populations with extreme sensitivity to the device (as mentioned by Middle). Long term health effects would be hard to predict, as exposure to the sound would most likely be short. Lengthy exposure could theoretically cause hearing loss or maybe side effects like headaches. I would be more worried about short-term accidents - my teenage son was driving past so-and-so, heard the Mosquito and crashed - or I was walking my dog past the store, he heard the Mosquito and got loose and ran away...