Adult-Proof Ringtones

Status: Undetermined
I've received quite a few emails about this. A British paper,, reports that resourceful teenagers have devised a way to make the ringing of their cellphones inaudible to adults. The trick is that they've recorded the sound of the Mosquito, which is a device that emits ultrasonic tones inaudible to most people over the age of twenty-five, but quite audible, and rather annoying, to people under the age of 25:

Techno-savvy pupils have adapted the Mosquito alarm, used to drive teenage gangs away from shopping centres. They can receive calls and texts during lessons without teachers having the faintest idea what is going on. The alarm, which has been praised by police, is highly effective because its ultra-high sound can be heard only by youths but not by most people over 20. Schoolchildren have recorded the sound, which they named Teen Buzz, and spread it from phone to phone via text messages and Bluetooth technology. Now they can receive calls and texts during lessons without teachers having the faintest idea what is going on.

Can this be real? Well, the Mosquito is real enough (I posted about it back in November 2005), and it is true that young people can usually hear higher frequencies than older people because we lose the ability to hear high frequencies as we age. The question is whether cellphone speakers can generate these ultrasonic frequencies. Boing Boing posts a comment from one of their readers who swears that cellphone speakers would not be able to do this. However, another reader links to an article that contains an mp3 recording of the Mosquito sound. (When I listen to it I can't hear any high-pitched noise, just a bunch of street noise.) So if computer speakers can generate these frequencies, perhaps some high-end cellphone speakers also can. Seems plausible. In other words, I'm not yet willing to label this story as a hoax or false rumor, even though it does seem to be a bit far-fetched.


Posted on Thu May 25, 2006


Wow, that was annoying. I'm 27, and I could hear it plain as day. Horribly annoying... Of course, I do produce music and mess with high and low frequencies a lot. So I have kinda trained my ears to pick up on highs and lows. I do have a slight headache now though. wow.
Posted by Charles Garcia  on  Thu Sep 28, 2006  at  12:51 PM
Oh, yeah, I hear it! I'm 25. I tried months ago and could just barely hear it, but now I hear it louder. Interesting.
Posted by Fox Mulder  on  Mon Oct 02, 2006  at  11:30 PM
i played the sound
i could hear the sound fine
it hurts my ears after a while
neither of my parents could hear it
but my brother and i could
Posted by chirs  on  Tue Oct 03, 2006  at  06:28 PM
this thing is so annoying ! im 55 and i can still hear it ! get rid of it !
Posted by olga  on  Wed Oct 04, 2006  at  09:07 AM
At 34 I can still hear it (yeah for me) and so can my wife (30). But she was a music major with a piano background, while I was in chior and heavy into music. Plus, we've both always been able to hear a TV turn on, so I'm guessing we're probably an anomaly.
Posted by Kevin  on  Wed Oct 04, 2006  at  02:42 PM
Wow, i didin't know if what they say is true, but it is! I can hear it, im 14 and my parents have no idea it is being played! Although, i suggest to other people who can only hear the crowd noise to go to another website and listen to it there.
Posted by Fatcatjak  on  Tue Oct 10, 2006  at  09:34 AM
OMG. That is the worst sound ever. It reminds me of when I was a kid and I could here the frequency of the alarm in the department store. It was so bad I would have to leave. I'm 26 now, and I can still hear it. It sounds like: a tv being turned on, one of those insect repellent sounds that ended up repelling me instead, and the sound before a jet engine turns on.

If I was a teacher, I would probably go postal on my students.

If you can't hear it..ignorance is bliss.
Posted by Ebby  on  Fri Oct 13, 2006  at  09:16 AM
Wow, im 13 and i cant hear it at all!
Posted by nopppppppppeeeeeee  on  Tue Oct 17, 2006  at  07:40 PM
I'm 38 and I can hear that ringtone! It is definitely headache inducing.
Posted by maggiethebeagle  on  Sun Oct 22, 2006  at  12:02 PM
im 13 i can hear it damm clearly

Posted by bla bla  on  Wed Oct 25, 2006  at  12:34 PM
im 43...
and with headphones.. i can hear it distinctly.
rather annoying.
dont hear it on the computer speaks.

Posted by John  on  Fri Nov 03, 2006  at  05:51 PM
Make it go away.

I'm 13, and I could hear it at the volume of 1. I don't know why, but all of a sudden my head felt hot, and I started jerking...hopefully it will wear off. I even started crying. I played it at night, but nobody woke back hurts now. I hope this goes away.
Posted by Jamie  on  Sun Nov 05, 2006  at  09:46 PM
i could definately hear it and so could the rest of my class, my teacher couldn't though!!
Posted by mo  on  Thu Nov 16, 2006  at  07:09 AM
I could hear that sound even before I turned the speakers up loud enough to be able to hear the "street" sounds, as you described them.

The sound is some sort of chirping noise...Kind of hard to describe exactly, though.
Posted by Tsukiyo  on  Thu Nov 16, 2006  at  04:26 PM
I'm only 13 and I have heard the pitch many times before on MTV and when my teacher showed it to the class. But when I downloaded the mp3 mosquito sound file, it sounds just like you've described it: 'street noise'. I can hear it loud and clear and it is rather annoying even with headphones on.
Posted by Kylie  on  Sun Nov 19, 2006  at  03:42 PM
i'm only 16 and couldn't hear it at all at first, wasn't until i turned it up quite loud that i could identify the noise. As a ring tone i'd probably miss every call. What wilth it being in my bag under 8 books and a smushed sandwich and all.

Couldn't hear it on the tv ad either.
Posted by Gabrielle  on  Mon Dec 18, 2006  at  05:12 AM
Hm, that probably means one could record a pest-repelling sound from some ultrasonic repeller and let it play from his or her speakers as well? Can one download that kind of mp3 somewhere?
Posted by Harassmenko  on  Mon Jan 01, 2007  at  10:57 AM
I am 25 and I can kind of hear it my little sister is 13 and it pops up to her like a plane crash....
Posted by Ci-C  on  Tue Jan 23, 2007  at  07:30 PM
You can get them from here

I'm only 19 and couldn't easily hear higher than 16.7kHz.
Posted by J  on  Thu Jan 25, 2007  at  06:53 PM
I am 35 years old and have harmed my hearing so bad at tesla and metallica concerts and I can still here it very loudly and it's an extremely annoying.

It feels like I turned into a dog and I can hear a dog whistle when I listen to it.😛

Old people can hear it, so it's not really effective.
Posted by neo  on  Mon Jan 29, 2007  at  04:47 PM
this one's even more annoying!
its sort of the same but the pitch goes up and down and makes it very awkward to listen to!
Posted by katy  on  Fri Feb 09, 2007  at  12:23 PM
Im 24, my brother is 19. We could both year it. annoying. We asked my mom to come into the room and played it. She didnt hear anything. Along with the annoyign sound, we felt pressure on our ears.

😊 Leigh
Posted by Leigh  on  Sat Feb 10, 2007  at  07:25 PM
I'm 19, been well into the club scene for 5 years, litsen to probably 100db of music everyday.
The Pitch I recieve is not high, I can feel it being high but it just gets ME High ..It doesn't bother me, just gets me smiling like a git...
Any ...suggestions?
Posted by Graham  on  Sat Feb 24, 2007  at  04:50 PM
I can definetly hear the beep, although its not bothering me. Its quite enjoyable actually.
My minds fuzzing out .
Posted by Graham  on  Sat Feb 24, 2007  at  04:56 PM
wow i am 13 and at my school everyone plays the high pitched noise, my teacher is probably in his 30s and he couldnt hear a thing even when he put his ear right up to the speaker...he thought that it was a joke and that we werent really playing a noise, hah but we were
Posted by Brian  on  Tue Apr 10, 2007  at  04:50 PM
Want to ask u guys is this ring tone dangerous...will it causes Brain damage and can it kill a person because i heard some rumors about it and want to it rite...?
Posted by TKS  on  Fri Apr 13, 2007  at  06:10 PM
I heard it just fine. I'm 20. I don't know if that makes any difference. I think it sounds a bit fishy, but I guess I won't knock it until I try it!
Posted by Megan  on  Mon Apr 30, 2007  at  02:01 PM
Well, my boyfriend's friend had this ringtone. He, my boyfriend, and I were all in the car one day and he told us he had a new ringtone. He didn't give us any background. He played it for us, but I didn't hear ANYTHING. I asked him to turn it up, but my boyfriend said it was quite loud and annoying. Then he told us what it was. I couldn't believe it. I thought for sure they were pulling one over on me. I was only 20 while my boyfriend was 24 and his friend was 26! I do have pretty bad hearing, but I'm sure I can tell you. This story is TRUE. I can't hear thething at all!
Posted by Judi  on  Fri May 18, 2007  at  12:26 AM
Of note, I couldn't hear the ringtone, but I COULD hear the little clips they gave as examples on the internet. I think those things are screwed up somehow...
Posted by Judi  on  Fri May 18, 2007  at  12:29 AM
im 12,almost 13 and gawd that is loud and high pitched and..Annoying!!!i couldnt stand that as a ringtone-i dot even really use my cell! my speakers play it very clearly-and yes it acctually sounds like what i hear a few nights ago-a mosquito flying around my head whil its midnight and everything is totally silent,i also hear it alternate to a pinch lower of a frequency around half way through and then it switches back after 1-2 seconds-i find this quite interesting indeed (although annoying,interesting)being the smartest kid im my gr 7 class :( (i feel so left out)
Posted by Jared  on  Sat Jun 09, 2007  at  11:51 PM
I'm 17 and can clearly hear it. I told my mom to come downstairs and listen to it and she couldn't hear anything except for the background noises. It's pretty interesting if you ask me.
Posted by Andrew  on  Wed Aug 29, 2007  at  10:15 PM
ouch that hurt and i am 38, and my daughter screamed when i turned it on, she had no idea what i was doing either
Posted by Robb  on  Fri Oct 12, 2007  at  12:32 AM
I can hear it, I'm 22.
Posted by Tom Green  on  Mon Nov 12, 2007  at  03:09 PM
As a teacher I was curious if this worked...I downloaded the mp3 linked in your article and totally unannounced I played it in class. It drove my students nuts. I on the other hand at 36 years of age could hear nothing but ambient background sound. I think you could label this one as true
Posted by A teacher  on  Tue Dec 18, 2007  at  02:30 PM
im 12 and i crnt hear it is that because im too young ... ?
Posted by hanna :)  on  Thu Jan 03, 2008  at  09:45 AM
Truth, YES. i put a different one on my phone took it to all my teachers and they said what are you talking about are u crazy?

now i text ALL the time during call none of my teachers can hear it 😊
Posted by LOL  on  Thu Jan 03, 2008  at  01:26 PM
it's really wierd how adults can't hear it. i'm 12 and both or my parents can't hear it. when i first listened to it i found it cool but after about 10 seconds it got annoying. if you turn it up loud it feels like someone is standing on your head.
Posted by alan  on  Sat Jan 05, 2008  at  07:47 PM
Interesting read.
Posted by Bartimusl  on  Wed Feb 06, 2008  at  05:38 AM
here's a link of ringtones of different frequencies.

i'm 35 and i can hear them all. they are all annoying as hell! they give me a horrible headache. must explain why my CRT TV annoys the hell out of me.
Posted by ellabelle  on  Wed Feb 20, 2008  at  11:18 PM
Nicely written. I can relate to most of your points.Bookmarked!
Posted by Masert  on  Mon Mar 24, 2008  at  12:51 PM
Ya this is completely true, this can be loud to many students under the age of 25, but anybody over that has a hard time hearing it, i just received the text with the sound today its awesome, no teachers can hear it when im textin durin class!!!
Posted by Nick  on  Fri May 23, 2008  at  07:38 AM
"I'm slightly over twenty and i can even hear the lowest frequencies of a bat (not the actual hunting frequency, but the 'powering-up' sound), although it gets less clear every year"

that is the funniest thing i have ever read in my entire life.
Posted by andrew  on  Tue Jul 15, 2008  at  09:24 AM
Too bad I'm not old enough to not hear that sound yet. Those mosquito sounds are really popular in the Netherlands, and quite annoying too.
Posted by Wouter  on  Wed Jul 16, 2008  at  04:49 AM
Posted by TERY  on  Thu Jul 17, 2008  at  03:35 AM
I would be wary of subliminal messages 😊
Posted by RINGTONESFREEDOM.COM  on  Tue Sep 02, 2008  at  02:49 AM
The sound causes my jaw to feel weird.
Posted by Matt  on  Sun Oct 26, 2008  at  12:22 PM
I can hear the high pitched sound in that mp3. I'm over 25, and my ears have certainly had their fair share of abuse (lots of loud rock concerts, and it was a while before I finally got wise and started wearing ear plugs).
Posted by Aracari  on  Mon Apr 27, 2009  at  01:06 AM
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