Young Hooligans, Scram!
Listen up, young would-be vandals: SonicScreen, a new device designed to keep muskrats and miscreants out of family-friendly spaces could be headed for a playground, park, or schoolyard near you.
The device generates a modulated high-frequency tone that Jay Webber, who has installed these devices, claims can only be heard by people in the 13- to 25-year-old age range. A motion sensor detects your possibly pubescent presence and emits this harmless-but-abrasive signal until you get away from the monkey bars—or wherever you're not wanted. "For young people, it sounds like 15 or 20 people dragging their nails down a chalkboard," Webber told the Pioneer Press, a daily newspaper in Twin Cities, Minnesota.
City officials in Hastings, Minnesota, are currently debating whether to buy the $7,000 device, but they aren't the first in the US to do so. Moving Sound Technologies installed its own version in Washington, DC's Gallery Place Metro station. It received mixed results and was eventually removed after David Moss of the National Youth Rights Association filed a complaint with the DC Office of Human Rights. There are similar products in the European market such as the Mosquito Alarm, installed in front of shops to discourage loiterers. Youth advocacy critics find the device discriminatory, anti-teen, and an inappropriate strategy. In the UK, a government-appointed children's commissioner even launched a campaign called Buzz Off, aimed at banning the Mosquito Alarm.