Web delivers new worry for parents: Digital drugs
We all know that music can alter your mood. Sad songs can make you cry. Upbeat songs may give you an energy boost. But can music create the same effects as illegal drugs?
This seems like a ridiculous question. But websites are targeting your children with so-called digital drugs. These are audio files designed to induce drug-like effects.
All your child needs is a music player and headphones.
Understanding binaural beats
There are different slang terms for digital drugs. They're often called "idozers" or "idosers." All rely on the concept of binaural beats.
It is incorrect to call binaural beats music. They're really ambient sounds designed to affect your brain waves.
For binaural beats to work, you must use headphones. Different sounds are played in each ear. The sounds combine in your brain to create a new frequency. This frequency corresponds to brain wave frequencies.
There are different brain wave frequencies. These frequencies are related to different states like relaxation and alertness.
Digital drugs supposedly synchronize your brain waves with the sound. Hence, they allegedly alter your mental state.
Binaural beats create a beating sound. Other noises may be included with binaural beats. This is intended to mask their unpleasant sound.
Different types of digital drugs
Some sites provide binaural beats that have innocuous effects. For example, some claim to help you develop extrasensory powers like telepathy and psychokinesis.
Other sites offer therapeutic binaural beats. They help you relax or meditate. Some allegedly help you overcome addiction or anxiety. Others purport to help you lose weight or eliminate gray hair.
However, most sites are more sinister. They sell audio files ("doses") that supposedly mimic the effects of alcohol and marijuana.
But it doesn't end there. You'll find doses that purportedly mimic the effects of LSD, crack, heroin and other hard drugs. There are also doses of a sexual nature. I even found ones that supposedly simulate heaven and hell.
Do digital drugs work?
Many are skeptical about the effects of digital drugs. Few scientific studies have been conducted on binaural beats. However, a Duke University study suggests that they can affect mood and motor performance.
Dr. Nicholas Theodore, a brain surgeon at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, said there is no real evidence that idosers work. But he noted that musical preference is indicative of emotional vulnerability. Trying idosers could indicate a willingness to experiment with drugs and other dangerous behavior.
Theodore added that idosers are another reason to monitor kids' Internet usage. And, he said, kids need frank talks with their parents about correct choices.
"I suspect this 'Pied Piper' phenomenon will pass rapidly and quietly," he said.
Online, many people have posted their experiences with digital drugs. They tout the effectiveness of binaural beats.
Or, go to YouTube. You'll see videos of teens experimenting with digital drugs. You can decide for yourself if binaural beats induce drug-like effects.
Companies that sell digital drugs take both sides of the argument. They say that the doses are extremely powerful. Some are recommended only for experienced users.
But they often hedge their bets. Some users may be immune to binaural beats, they say. They also say the situation must be right to feel the effects.
Should you worry about digital drugs?
Companies that sell digital drugs claim they're safe. Supposedly, they won't affect your physical health.
Let's think about this for a moment. The sites claim binaural beats cause the same effects as illegal drugs. These drugs impair coordination and can cause hallucinations. They've caused countless fatal accidents, like traffic collisions.
If binaural beats work as promised, they are not safe. They could also create a placebo effect. The expectation elicits the response. Again, this is unsafe.
At the very least, digital drugs promote drug use. Some sites say binaural beats can be used with illegal drugs.
The sites also look favorably on the effects of illegal drugs. So, talk to your children. Make sure they understand the dangers of this culture. It could be a small jump from digital drugs to the real thing.
Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about computers and the Internet. To get the podcast or find the station nearest you, visit: www.komando.com/listen. To subscribe to Kim's free e-mail newsletters, sign up at: www.komando.com/newsletters. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.