Internet Addiction Disorder Linked to Google Glass
In late 2013, September to be exact, Navy doctors treated a man for Internet Addiction Disorder, or IAD. This is the first time, but surely not the last, that IAD was triggered by the overuse of Google’s headset computer, Google Glass.
In today’s world, we’re all smartphone addicts. Having an addiction triggered by the overuse of a wearable computer? That’s scary. It is to me, anyway.
Let’s explore this case in-depth and see if we can’t make sense of what happened.
Google Glass Addiction
In September 2013, a thirty-one year old man checked himself into the U.S. Navy’s Substance Abuse and Recovery Program, also known as SARP. Alcohol abuse and addiction had brought him to the point of seeking treatment.
SARP is a thirty-five day, abstinence-based program. They also require, like many treatment centers, their patients surrender all electronic devices. Addiction professionals soon noticed the man frequently tapped the right side of his head. That’s how users turn on Google Glass.
The man, who remains unidentified to the public, admitted to wearing Google Glass upwards of eighteen hours a day for two months. He said he only took them off to shower and sleep.
He bought the headset computer to improve his work performance, but quickly found himself hooked. Upon entering SARP, he began to experience withdrawals from both alcohol and his Google Glass.
He reported feeling frustrated, irritated, aggressive, and having cravings to wear the glasses. He also reported short-term memory problems and experiencing dreams through the headset display.
The man said his Google Glass withdrawal was worse than his alcohol withdrawal. That sounds strange, considering alcohol withdrawal can produce seizures, respiratory failure, heart failure, and Delirium Tremens.
The head of Addictions and Resilience Research at SARP, Dr. Andrew Doan, confirmed the patient was experiencing withdrawal as a result of his Google Glass use.
After completing the thirty-five day program, the man reported feeling better. He said he wasn’t compulsively touching the right side of his head, had improved short-term memory, and was feeling less irritable.
He was referred to a twelve-step fellowship to address his alcoholism. With any luck, he can find a spiritual solution for his Google Glass addiction as well.
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Internet Addiction Disorder
That a piece of technology is able to trigger not only a strong mental craving, but also physical withdrawal symptoms, is scary! Imagine if our phones did that!
Having seen proof that Internet Addiction Disorder can manifest physical and mental symptoms, you’d think the medical community would be scrambling to address it, right? Wrong.
Internet Addiction Disorder wasn’t included in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In fact, it was listed in an appendix as an issue that needs more study.
Psychiatrists, and other addiction professionals, are divided about its existence as well. Some believe that IAD is a clinical disorder. Others believe it’s simply a symptom of underlying psychological issues.
Dr. Doan published a paper on his patient’s Google Glass addiction in the peer-reviewed journal Addictive Behaviors. He hopes this will help to add some scientific credibility to Internet Addiction Disorder.
The Telegraph has quoted Dr. Doan as saying “People used to believe alcoholism wasn’t a problem – they blamed the person or the people around them. It’s just going to take a while for us to realise [sic] that this is real.”
Citations & Further Reading:
Article at The Telegraph
Article at Newsweek