Scientists Claim Man Became Addicted To Google Glass, Suffered Withdrawal

Scientists in California claim they treated the first person to become addicted to Google Glass. Is this a sign of the times, or a clever way to get out of work?

Scientists in California claim they treated the first person to become addicted to Google Glass. Is this a sign of the times, or a clever way to get out of work?

At one point or another you’ve probably joked with friends that you’ve become addicted to something on the internet: Cute kitten videos, absurd quizzes or a variety of other semi-entertaining online phenomena. While you probably weren’t actually dependent on any of those things, scientists in California claim they’ve treated the first person with internet addiction brought on by overuse of Google Glass.

The Guardian reports that the man used Google Glass for about 18 hours a day – only taking the device off to sleep and shower – before checking himself into the U.S. Navy’s Substance Abuse and Recovery Program (SARP) for alcohol abuse in September 2013.

As part of the treatment the 31-year-old man was required to steer clear of addictive behaviors and forfeit use of all electronic devices.

Doctors soon noticed the patient repeatedly tapped his right temple with his index finger. The man reported that the movement was an involuntary mimic of the motion he regularly made to switch on his Google Glass.

That was the first sign of the man’s alleged technological addiction.

In the past, internet addiction disorder, a controversial diagnosis among psychiatrist, has been linked to phones and computers, but is not officially recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Medical Disorders.

While it can’t definitively be proven that the man’s actions were actually involuntary, Dr. Andrew Doan, head of addictions and resilience research at SARP and co-author of a report detailing the man’s ordeal, says he believes man suffered a very real addiction to his device.

“He said the Google Glass withdrawal was greater than the alcohol withdrawal he was experiencing,” Doan says.

When the man checked into the program, he says he was suffering from involuntary movements, cravings, memory problems and dreaming as if he was wearing the glasses.

Additionally, the man would feel irritable and argumentative after going only a few hours without the device.

Doan says the withdrawal symptoms the man experienced could be a result of the neurological reward associated with the constant accessibility of the wearable device.

“There’s nothing inherently bad about Google Glass,” Doan said. “It’s just that there is very little time between these rushes. So for an individual who’s looking to escape, for an individual who has underlying mental dysregulation, for people with a predisposition for addiction, technology provides a very convenient way to access these rushes.”

Other addiction researchers say that while it may be possible the man actually suffered from Google Glass dependence, there needs to be much more research in the area of internet addiction before anyone should jump at the chance to open any internet addiction rehabilitation facilities.

Daria Kuss, a researcher of internet addiction at Nottingham Trent University tells The Guardian that the man’s reported addiction was likely the result of underlying mental problems, including depression, social anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder.

As for the man, Doan says he’s on the road to recovery. After 35 days at SARP the man reports feeling less irritable, made fewer compulsive movements toward the non-existent device and his short-term memory had improved. It’s unclear what treatment the man received other than not having access to his device.

Google Glass user treated for internet addiction caused by the device [The Guardian]

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