Do you ever get fed up with your children? Even, occasionally wish they would just, like, GO AWAY? Well, you’re not alone. The scourge of the young is such a wide-ranging problem that people are inventing things to get those darned kids outta here. You may be familiar with the principle behind these devices. It’s the same technology used to clear the vicinity of other pests. For example, rodents.
I am the owner of one of these devices. The “Sonic 2000″, pictured at left, came into my life at the intersection of some very convincing Hammacher Schlemmer catalog copy and a tail poking through the ceiling fixture in my apartment. The device was supposed to emit some inaudible frequency that would make whatever was attached to this tail—and all his presumably furry friends—run squeaking into the tenement building next door. It did not work. Fortunately, I no longer live in this apartment. Using the same basic technology as the Sonic 2000, The Sonic Screen Vandal Deterrent promises to rid your premises of unwanted youth.
Primarily used by the owners of convenience stores and playgrounds, the Sonic Screen is a brand of “Mosquito Alarm.” These machines emit frequencies that adults can’t hear but that sound loud and annoying to young people. The technology works on the principle that people tend to lose the upper registers of their hearing as they age.
According to the promotional material, the Sonic Screen Vandal Deterrent “discourages disruptive after-hours gatherings by emitting an ultrasonic tone that’s extremely unpleasant to those between the ages of 13 and early twenties.”
The company claims the tone is harmless, and not an issue for younger kids and pets. Which is weird, because the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health stated exactly the opposite in a disturbing report on the risks of such ultrasonic noise devices: “small children and infants are especially at risk, due to lengthy exposure to the sound, because the adults themselves do not perceive the noise. Moreover, the ultrasound affects not only hearing. Disruption of the equilibrium senses, as well as other extra-aural effects are well known. With the sound levels that can be reached by the device, the onset of dizziness, headache, nausea and impairment is to be expected. This is not the limit of the total risks to safety and health.” The kids in the video below don’t seem particularly bothered, but then, they may be paid actors. Or they may just quietly be experiencing changes to their DNA as they cavort on the monkey bars.
Ultrasound alarms are considered ethically questionable by a number of children’s and human rights organizations. There are proposals to ban them in a number of European countries. Meanwhile, some enterprising teens in the UK have found a way to co-opt the technology for their own purposes. They’ve turned it into a ring tone—one that’s conveniently inaudible to teachers and parents.