A. Listen to Part 1 of a local radio news report and answer the questions.
1 What is the Mosquito Tone and who can hear it?
2 Were both the presenters able to hear it?
3 Were you able to hear it? If yes, how did it make you feel?
1 It’s a sound that only people under 25 can hear
2 No, neither of them could hear it.
I = interviewer, M = Mark
I Welcome back. Up next, age and the generation gap. We know how hard it can be to tell someone’s age, but in fact it turns out there may be a way that’s quite simple. It’s called the ‘Mosquito Tone Test’, and Mark is here to tell us more.
M Thanks, Sue. The Mosquito Tone is a sound – a very high-pitched, very annoying sound, which is why it’s named after the insect. What’s interesting is that apparently as we age, we slowly lose our ability to hear this sound. According to scientists, almost everyone under the age of twenty-five can hear the Mosquito Tone, but almost no one over twenty-five can hear it!
I Really! Is that right?
M Yes. And to test this out, I actually played the tone for my family last night. My wife and I heard absolutely nothing at all, but our teenage daughters could hear it, and in fact they complained that it was an irritating sound that was quite painful to hear.
I Oh no! Well, at the risk of irritating some of our younger listeners’ ears, why don’t we play the tone briefly now?
M OK, here goes. I’m playing the tone in three, two, one…
I Have you played the tone yet?
M I just did. Or, at least, I think I did.
I Well, I suppose that just confirms that neither of us are under twenty-five!
B. Listen to Part 2 of the news report. Where is the Mosquito Tone being used? Why? Is everybody in favour of it?
C. Listen to Part 2 again. What does the interviewee say about these things?
1 how teenage gangs behave in shopping centres
2 what shop owners say about the Mosquito Tone
3 why some people think the Mosquito Tone is unfair to teenagers
4 why the Mosquito Tone doesn’t stop the problem
5 how some teenagers are taking advantage of the Mosquito Tone
It’s being used in shopping centres to keep teenage gangs away.
Not everybody is in favour of it; some people are against it.
1 They cause trouble, annoy other customers, and frighten them away.
2 They say it has worked very well for them, and that it doesn’t hurt the teenagers.
3 Because they worry that the sound might be harmful, and because it affects all teenagers, not just gangs.
4 It just makes teenagers go somewhere else.
5 They are using it as a ringtone for their phones at school.
I Now, Mark, apart from testing a person’s age, what is the Mosquito Tone being used for?
M This has actually become an interesting controversy. Because the sound is so annoying, and because only the young can hear it, the Mosquito Tone is being used to keep teenagers away from certain places.
I What kinds of places?
M Well, for example, from shopping centres. As you know, in some towns you get large groups of young people hanging around shopping centres and causing trouble. And some shop owners say that these gangs can annoy other customers or frighten them away, which is obviously not good for business. So now these centres can play the Mosquito Tone over their audio system, and the groups of teenagers will feel uncomfortable and leave the area. But, of course, the sound won’t annoy the other customers at all, as they don’t hear it.
I Have you spoken to any of these shop owners?
M Yes, I have, and they said that the Mosquito Tone has worked very well for them. And they also said that although it’s true that the Mosquito Tone is certainly very annoying, it doesn’t hurt the teenagers.
I It sounds like rather a good idea to me. But you said this was a controversy. Who’s against it?
M Well, there are some groups of people who are trying to ban the Mosquito Tone. They’ve pointed out a number of problems with it. Firstly, they worry that the sound really is harmful, but more to the point, they say that the Mosquito Tone affects all young people, some of whom are well-behaved and just want to go shopping. And finally, they say that the Mosquito Tone doesn’t actually stop the problem of teenage gangs; it just drives them from one place to another.
I Those do seem like good points.
M Yes, indeed. And there’s also an interesting twist. Some teenagers have discovered an advantage to the Mosquito Tone.
I Oh yes?
M Well, the Mosquito Tone has also been released as a ringtone for your mobile. So in secondary schools that don’t permit mobile phones, teens can use their phones in class. They can receive calls and messages during lessons and teachers don’t have any idea what is happening.
I Because the teacher can’t hear it! That must really annoy them.
M That’s right. And if they can’t hear it, they can’t…
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