The ringtone that bites


Photo Illustration by Michael Uribes / The Collegian

Cell phones are becoming a significant part of our culture as users are increasingly customizing their smartphones. Personalizing your ringtone is just one way to attract attention with your cell phone. Most cell phones have the technological ability to download ringtones.

Professors often ask students to turn off or put their cell phone on silent before class starts to avoid distractions. But what if you had a ringtone that your professor couldn’t hear?

The Mosquito Ringtone is creating a stir among students across the world as their curiosity to test the product increases.

British inventor Howard Stapleton created the ringtone in 2005 after he wanted to repel young people from loitering in front of stores. In order to avoid disturbing older customers, Stapleton had to develop an annoying ultra high frequency sound that only teenagers could hear. Alternatively, students have been using the ringtone for their benefit inside the classroom.

According to a CBS article by Lloyd de Vries in June 2006, one of the ways the ringtone works is by taking advantage of a hearing loss that happens naturally as people age. A 19-year-old student can hear their cell phone ring in a classroom, but their professor wouldn’t be able to hear it. The ringtone used by the student is designed to prevent the professor from hearing high frequency sounds associated with their age group.

Broadcast journalism major Suzie Gutierrez said her older brother Richard Carlos, 32, showed her the ringtone last year when he couldn’t hear the one designated for his age group.
“He was surprised I could hear it so well and he couldn’t,” said Gutierrez.

The website offers the ringtone for different age groups, including 39 and younger, 30 and younger, 24 and younger and 18 and younger. These age groups specify who is more likely to hear the high frequency sound. The ringtone that can be downloaded for free through the Mosquito Ringtone website.

The ringtone is interesting and can be helpful, but it isn’t for everyone. Hairstylist Danielle Hollman, 23, tried the ringtone and didn’t like the results.
“It works, but it’s really annoying when you can hear it,” Hollman.

High school students who have older teachers generally use the ringtone, but it wouldn’t be helpful for college students who have a graduate student as a professor.

The ringtones also don’t effectively diminish the hearing of every person in the designated age group. This is because every individual’s hearing declines at varying rates.

Reedley College Professor Cheryl Lock encourages people of all ages to try the ringtone even though it didn’t affect her.

“It can’t possibly be accurate,” said Lock. “I couldn’t hear the one that’s for under 49 and I am only 46.”

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