GBM Back to School Tip: Mosquito Ringtones

As an educator in the United States public school system, I am noticing that students are using technology to socialize more than ever.  Text messaging, e-mailing, MySpace, Facebook and cell phones are a few high-tech ways that students stay on top of gossip and often find their way to the principal’s office.  Mosquito ringtones, also known as Teen Buzz, are another tool students are using to bypass parents, teachers, and administrators to enhance their communication and sometimes cheat at all levels of education.

As we age, our ability to hear various frequencies weakens.  Ultimately, we are unable to hear certain frequencies altogether.  This process is known as Presbycusis.  Mosquito ringtones are files that produce a sound outside the audible range of hearing for most people over the age of thirty.  People in the early twenties and below use this inaudible ringtone as a way to fool teachers, parents, and older folks.  The mosquito ringtone allows younger students to be notified of incoming calls or text messages without alerting their instructors; it allows students to use technology to make their communication more mobile.

Many argue that the mosquito ringtones came about largely from the use of The Mosquito, an alarm system designed to deter underage loitering.  The Mosquito Alarm plays a loud noise that is similar to the sound emitted by real mosquitos.  This sound occurs at approximately 17.4 kHz.

Students should be warned, however.  Educators and parents are getting wise to the use of mosquito ringtones.  Many of the conferences that discuss education and technology examine the different types of ringtones and ways to combat technological interference in the classroom.

You can put your own hearing to the test and listen to which frequencies are audible.

Photo credit: kainet (flickr cc)

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