Tuesday, February 24th, 2009...4:22 pm

Swatting the Mosquitoes

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Diane Ross
The Centers for Quality Teaching and Learning

I sparked a conversation in my graduate Human Development class not long ago when I mentioned the ring tones that most adults cannot hear.  This was ‘news’ to every person in the class, including some who can probably still hear the young-eared frequencies.

You see, a few years ago a British Company marketed a new technology to schools in England.  Using a frequency that older adults cannot hear (due to age-related hearing loss that everyone experiences), the school could broadcast the frequency in places they don’t want kids to congregate.  The frequency hurts kids’ ears, and they leave the area.  Instead of telling kids to keep out, the frequency does it and adults are not affected by the sound.

That British company, called Mosquito, decided that its products were so successful they began to market their product to kids to download onto their cell phones.  That way, when a student gets a call during class (or a text message) the alert is sent using the kid-only frequency.  Kids know when they are getting a call, teachers don’t.

The problem with this technology is that it is a double sided sword.  One side is the side of educators using it to ward off kids, as if they were truly ‘mosquitoes’.  The other side is the students getting away with breaking the rules by receiving calls or text messages during class.  I guess this text messaging could be used to cheat, but who knows what kids send on their texts?

The bottom line is that technology is what it is, a tool. We can choose to use it wisely or we can use it to gain an upper hand.  It seems to me that either case, the Mosquito needs to be swatted from schools.  It’s not a good idea to use it against kids and then allow kids to use it against schools.


  • Here’s my take on this. I had students telling me about the tones and that they heard someone’s cell phone. They then asked me if I heard it and then said “Oh right, you’re too old to hear it!” The kids are using these ring tones without us knowing about them.
    So if the kids are using these tones and I can’t hear them, I say we use the Mosquitos to move kids. Turn about is fair play. And, of course, those that know me know I’m a smart alec and will take this post with a grain of salt. But technology will always fall into the hands of those that will use it to their benefit. And since kids are smart enough to use it to their benefit, I think it’s only fair that educators can as well.

  • I was so amused by reading this. Yesterday, while subbing, I asked the students if they had them and if they would play the ring tone for me. At first I couldn’t hear it, but the kid bumped up the volume and I could hear it, and then another kid set his off and I could hear that! I’m not old!
    But then I asked them how they felt about schools and places using them to get rid of kids, and they saw how it could make sense. They told me they don’t use that ringtone often anymore because even if the teacher can’t hear it, other students can and it can bring unwanted attention. Even texting brings my attention. If the teacher knows what to look for, that glaze in their eyes, one hand missing from their desk top, it’s easy to spot a texter. Anyone know of a cell phone scrambler that won’t let a signal out of a room? That would be great!

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