The Mosquito: Melting Teenage Brains Daily

This isn’t a piece about entomology, so if that’s what you were looking for, follow the previous link.

An article from the CBC that recently caught my attention reports on a Quebec convenience store chain’s plans to install high-frequency devices which aim to shoo away loitering teens. Basically, the device emits an annoying high-pitched tone that only people under the age of 25 can hear. Essentially, this is a “teen repellent”.

If successful, the device would effectively keep them from hanging out around the establishment partaking in “typical” under 25 activities, like tagging and loitering.  Oh, and maybe actually spending money in the store. I’ll assume that the device can only be heard outside the store, since the last time I checked, most of their employees appeared to be under 25.

Couche-Tard (french for “goes to bed late” and a typically amusing name for those outside of the province of Quebec) is the province’s largest and most popular chain of 24/7 convenience stores. What gets me is that they typically market their products to the under 25 age bracket; the exact demographic which they’re wary enough of to install a Mosquito.

Seriously. Without going into the obvious human rights issues that arise from this, I’m wondering…what’s next? A sonic fence (like the awesome one on Lost)? Teen-seeking missiles? I don’t want to know.

The device has been used in Europe for a number of years with “great success”, but hey, Napalm was also a great success in doing what it did best. Electric fences? Highly effective at keeping the beasts corralled.

It still isn’t clear if the ultrasound produced by the Mosquito is even safe. Quoting directly from the Wikipedia article:

“The risk to the target group of teenagers and young adults is relatively low. They can leave the area when they hear the sound. On the other hand 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 and impairment is to be expected. This is not the limit of the total risks to safety and health.”

Awesome. Sounds like a very short-sighted decision by a big company to save a few bucks on a security camera.

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