Would you believe me if I told you that local shopping centres and malls were fitted with devices to deter young people away? Unfortunately, it’s true. And it affects me, my friends and our younger generations.
Let me introduce you to The Mosquito – an electronic device which is installed in public places to stop youth from loitering or spending their time in a certain location. The Mosquito emits pulses of sound at such a high pitched frequency that only those under the age of 25 can hear it. And it’s called The Mosquito for a reason, it sounds exactly like a mosquito ringing in your ears (which we can all agree is both annoying and painstaking).
What once started out as a groundbreaking idea has turned into an ear-burning problem- why are young people the target of noise pollution?
The Mosquito, and other devices like it, were originally invented to keep criminal youth and loitering young people away from certain places like shops, newsagents and public transport areas. Howard Stapleton, the guy who invented the noise machine, came up with the idea after a shopkeeper came to him for a solution to keep a gang of youngsters away from his shopfront.
“The shopkeeper had been having problems with gangs for a while and he knew I worked in security, so he asked me for advice. I knew that cameras wouldn’t get rid of these gangs and I wanted to invent something that would deter youths but would be safe and legal.”
Give it a go for yourself! Below is a sound snippet of The Mosquito in action. Can you hear it?
Don’t take it too personally if you couldn’t hear each sound, the frequency of each noise is so high that even computers have trouble processing them (which means maybe you’re ears aren’t that old after all… maybe).
But the real reason I bring up this topic is that these sonic sounds, located all over the city both in public and private domains, really do affect how my generation interact with our city’s places. Majority of us aren’t bad kids, and we quite like enjoying our time in the local shopping centre, or getting a bite to eat on the rooftop terrace of a Westfields. So why must my whole age bracket suffer the consequences of a decision made by an older land owner?
Companies, governments and public space owners are constantly working on improving their likability to the public face- be it through creating a charming precinct, offering a safe place for residents to enjoy, or simply just trying to improve their design to get more feet through the door. But when you purposely target youth to leave the premises, it feels a little discriminatory to me.
An important and necessary part of creating better cities is to ensure they are accessible and enjoyable.
So, is it really a valuable decision to make younger generations feel unwelcome and unfairly treated? Are these technologies okay for some generations to suffer whilst others are not affected at all?
Next time you find yourself at a local shopping mall, rooftop carpark or even a busy thoroughfare, keep an eye and ear out for your younger pals to see if that mosquito noise is twitching in their ears, and try find a comfortable spot for everyone to enjoy.