Hi-tech high: The dangerous 'digital drug'

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- It’s known as the digital drug, where the Internet is the dealer and the music is the drug. It’s a potentially dangerous trend called “i-dosing."

Websites sell these so-called i-dosing audio beats, claiming that the music makes listeners feel like they’re high on heroin and cocaine.

Child psychologist Jan Hamilton says the behavior seen in YouTube videos of teens apparently tripping out on this digital drug is deeply troubling.

“They may be seeking to numb out. They may be seeking to dull the pain,” Hamilton told 3TV’s Brandon Lee. “If they feel kind of good on it then they may be more willing to try illegal substances.”

No real scientific studies had been done on these i-dosing beats until now.

"If I could have your two index fingers up here,” Dr. Jeffrey Fannin said as he instructed a test patient at his Phoenix office.

Fannin is one of the nation’s leading experts when it comes to mapping brain activity. He was able to use cutting-edge technology to see if these binaural beats are really getting kids high.

We chose a test patient, Adam, to listen to "Gates of Hades," the same song as the kids in the YouTube videos.

"I felt really relaxed at first. It was very calming and I felt warm," Adam said.

Then about 10 minutes into the experiment, the 3-D brain scan detector turned bright red and Adam ripped off the headphones.

“What the heck just happened? That was scary," he said.

What Fannin discovered was alarming but not for the reasons we expected.

"You get this startle effect and it has nothing to do with getting high," he explained. "It's just your brain saying, ‘Stop that.’ ”

So, even though i-dosing will not give teens a high similar to the chemical high from cocaine or heroin, don’t dismiss what these teens are up to just yet.

Fannin knows how powerful the brain can be and how easily a teenager's brain can be manipulated. It’s the intention to get high that’s cause for major concern.

"If they go exploring that, that could lead them to saying, 'Well, I've done this digitally. Maybe I should go try the real thing,' " Fannin said.