Sunday, June 6, 2010

Teens Turn 'Repeller' into Adult-Proof Ringtone

Teens Turn 'Repeller' into Adult-Proof Ringtone
by Melissa Block

May 26, 2006 The war between teens and authority figures has a new — or old — front: ears. British shopkeepers tired of teenage loiterers have turned to the Mosquito teen repellent, which emits a high-pitch frequency that most teenagers can hear — but not most adults.

But now teens have struck back against the Mosquito: They are using the same sound to communicate without adults' knowledge.

At issue is a text-message ringtone that emits the same pitch as the Mosquito. Using it, students can learn about a new message while they're in class — where they're not supposed to be using their cellphones. Most of their teachers can't hear the alert.

Inventor Howard Stapleton, creator of the Mosquito teen repellent, says only a few people over age 30 can hear the Mosquito's sound. He and his 16-year-old daughter Isabel talk to Melissa Block about the sound, which has been dubbed



BLOCK: Isabel, I assume if you wanted to, you could set your phone to vibrate and get the text message, and I guess the idea is you want it to be something that only the teenagers can hear while the teacher cannot. That's part of the fun.

Ms. STAPLETON: Yes. Actually, when a phone does vibrate, you can actually hear the noise with some phones, so the Teen Buzz is quite useful for in-class text messages.

BLOCK: Have you used it yourself in class?

Ms. STAPLETON: Yes, I have, actually.

Mr. STAPLETON: Well, that's it. She's in trouble now.

BLOCK: Well, have you gotten in trouble? I was going to ask you.

Ms. STAPLETON: No, I haven't, but I've seen my friends get in trouble for it.

BLOCK: And, Howard, you're responsible in some way.

Mr. STAPLETON: Yeah, I'm becoming, I'm not sure famous, but I'm certainly becoming infamous.

BLOCK: Well, Howard and Isabel Stapleton, thanks for coming in. Good to talk to you.

Mr. STAPLETON: Thank you very much.

Ms. STAPLETON: Thank you. Bye.

BLOCK: That's Howard Stapleton, creator of the Mosquito Teen Repeller, and his 16-year-old daughter, Isabel. They spoke with us from Cardiff, Wales. You can test your hearing with that Teen Buzz ringtone at

Copyright © 2006 National Public Radio®. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to National Public Radio. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

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