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I-Dosing: Digital Drugs and Binaural Beats

Are kids getting high on digital drugs?

Forget the medical marijuana dispensaries popping up on every street corner in California and Colorado. There's a new drug in town: it's called Idozer. 

marijuana musical notes
Ron S. Doyle
Simply put, i-dosing is the attempt to achieve a perceived drug "high" from listening specially-engineered sounds and music. Purveyors of this new market of "legal drugs" claim that different "digital drug recordings" can simulate the euphoric effects of marijuana, anti-depressant prescription drugs, LSD, ecstasy, cocaine... if Keith Richards tried it, they've got a song for it.

But really, Idozer (or I-doser as it is also known) is an extremely old "drug" in a new package. And breathe easy my fellow parents—because it's not really a drug—it's binaural beat therapy.

In 1839, Heinrich Wilhelm Dove discovered that two constant tones, played at slightly different frequencies in each ear, cause the listener to perceive the sound of a fast-paced beat. Calling this phenomenon "binaural beats," Dove helped launch two centuries of legitimate research and, as is almost always followed by exciting empirical study, money-grabbing pseudoscience.

First, the facts: Binaural beat therapy has been used in clinical settings to research hearing and sleep cycles, to induce various brain wave states, and treat anxiety.

But there are more controversial (dare I say dubious?) claims associated with binaural beats: Increased dopamine and beta-endorphin production, faster learning rates, improved sleep cycles, and yes, if you dig around less scientific communities like, oh, MySpace and YouTube, you'll find kids telling each other that "dude, those beats get you like totally high."

If you've wandered through a Brookstone or Sharper Image store in your local shopping mall and noticed sleep therapy or "brain-controller" devices for sale, that's just an upper middle class, "I need to stop thinking about my 401(k)" version of the same digital drug that the new crop of seedy i-dosing websites are offering to teens.

Is it a real drug? Probably not.

Is there a decent chance that you'll hear more about this in the next couple of weeks as the media and the easily excitable public gets whipped up into a fast-paced, dissonant frequency frenzy?  Yeah, most likely.

Is it a sign that teenage culture is still obsessed with—and actively seeking—experimentation with drugs and altered states? You bet.

With all the truly dangerous drugs out there accessible by your kids, I'd place Idozer on the low priority list for now. But if you happen to notice that your teenager has stopped listening to Tokyo Hotel or Timbaland and started listening to mind-numbing pink noise, perhaps it's time for a mature dialogue about the source of their motivations.

Or, you can just sneak into their iTunes playlist and upload Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother—because truly drug-induced music can be enough to scare anyone straight. ;-)

Are you trying to cope with a kid who's hooked on digital dope? Are you a binaural junkie mixing Elvis Costello and Digital Underground for a fix?  Leave a comment below.

 

Find me on Twitter: @rondoylewrites

Check out my Blog Salad, my humor blog about design, technology and general geekiness: BlogSaladBlog.com

Copyright Ron S. Doyle. 

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Ron Doyle is a Denver-based freelance writer.

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