Whippersnappers 1, baby boomers 0.
That’s the score in a generational match of wits that has left adults technologically outsmarted by an invention created to ward off obnoxious teenagers.
The Mosquito is a sound generator that emits a high-pitched buzz that is perfectly – and annoyingly – audible to young ears but unnoticeable to older ears that have lost the ability to hear high frequencies.
A Welsh shopkeeper first employed the sound to chase off youth who loitered outside his front door. “Either someone has come along and wiped them off the face of the Earth, or it’s working,” merchant Robert Gough gleefully told reporters, setting off a frenzy for the gizmo by businesspeople and railway companies, who used the device to keep hooligans from spray-painting trains and stations.
Then youthful ingenuity gained the upper hand.
Somebody – as yet unnamed – figured out that, uploaded to a cell phone, the Mosquito could function like a kids-only password, alerting students that a forbidden text message was on the way in school, for example, without cluing in adults.
In classrooms with middle-aged teachers, the subterfuge has worked like a charm. Teenagers hear it and check for their contraband text messages; teachers don’t have a clue what’s going on under their noses
Its other inventive uses we’re still – frighteningly – unaware of.
But in the ongoing battle between adult supervision and teenage subversion, we don’t think anyone’s seen the last Mosquito lobbed yet.
We predict it will turn up as a bathroom timer for teens, set to go off – near a mirror – when 30 minutes of air-gelling, zit-squeezing and flirty-smile-practicing has gone on as adults plead and threaten outside the door.
We await the addition of the Mosquito to snooze alarms, parents’ car horns and other time-management devices that teenagers seem oddly unable to hear.
And if there’s a way to wrap the sound into word-like parental commands – Dishes! Hang up! Practice violin! – then adults will not only be buying Mosquito sound generators, they’ll be buying Mosquito stock. Stay tuned for the buzz.