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Teens Turn 'Repeller' into Adult-Proof Ringtone

The war between teens and authority figures has a new -- or old -- front: ears. British shopkeepers tired of teenage loiterers have turned to the Mosquito teen repellent, which emits a high-pitch frequency that most teenagers can hear -- but not most adults.

But now teens have struck back against the Mosquito: They are using the same sound to communicate without adults' knowledge.

At issue is a text-message ringtone that emits the same pitch as the Mosquito. Using it, students can learn about a new message while they're in class -- where they're not supposed to be using their cellphones. Most of their teachers can't hear the alert.

Inventor Howard Stapleton, creator of the Mosquito teen repellent, says only a few people over age 30 can hear the Mosquito's sound. He and his 16-year-old daughter Isabel talk to Melissa Block about the sound, which has been dubbed "Teen Buzz."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

As special correspondent and guest host of NPR's news programs, Melissa Block brings her signature combination of warmth and incisive reporting. Her work over the decades has earned her journalism's highest honors, and has made her one of NPR's most familiar and beloved voices.
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