CNN reports that a 31-year-old man who checked in to the Navy’s Substance Abuse and Recovery Program (SARP) for alcoholism treatment was also treated for a Google Glass addiction, according to a new study. Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) is characterized by the problematic use of online video games, computer use and mobile handheld devices. While not officially a clinical diagnosis according to the most recent version of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM); individuals with IAD manifest severe emotional, social and mental dysfunction in multiple areas of daily activities due to their problematic use of technology and the Internet.
Google Glass is a type of wearable technology with an optical head-mounted display. It was developed by Google with the mission of producing a mass-market ubiquitous computer. Google Glass displays information in a smartphone-like hands-free format. Wearers communicate with the Internet via natural language voice commands. The product went on sale on April 15, 2013 for a limited period for $1,500 before it became available to the public on May 15, 2014 for the same price.
Google provides four frame choices, free with the purchase of any new Glass unit. The purchaser is responsible for buying the lenses. It is necessary to remove a small screw in order to move the Google Glass from one frame to another. Google entered into a partnership with the Italian eyewear company Luxottica, owners of Ray-Ban, Oakley and other brands, to offer additional frame designs. A touchpad is located on the side allowing users to control the device by swiping through an interface displayed on the screen.
San Diego doctors say the Navy patient, “Exhibited significant frustration and irritability related to not being able to use his Google Glass.” He has a history of substance abuse, depressive disorder, anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder they say. The man was using his Google Glass for up to 18 hours a day in the two months leading up to his admission in September, 2013. He wore it to work and reported feeling more confident in social situations while wearing it. He removed it only to sleep and bathe according to the study authors.
The controversial eyewear allows users to access online information, shoot photos or video and send messages. There are potential dangers in wearing the device including decreased awareness and headaches have been documented. Google Glass users frequently reach for the device, tapping near their temples to control the features; this patient repeatedly did the same, even when the device was not there.
“He reported that if he had been prevented from wearing the device while at work, he would become extremely irritable and argumentative,” the doctors write. This is the first known case of Internet addiction disorder involving Google Glass, according to the study authors, “Individuals with IAD manifest severe emotional, social and mental dysfunction in multiple areas of daily activities due to their problematic use of technology and the Internet.”
While in the treatment program, the man experienced withdrawal symptoms that he reportedly said were much worse than the withdrawal he went through from alcohol. After 35 days at the center, the patient reported a reduction in irritability and was no longer repeatedly moving his hand to his temple. However, doctors say he continued to, “Intermittently experience dreams as if looking through the device.”
Technology has brought us new addictions to cell phones, the Internet and video games.
Written by Veronica McNamara Sovereign Health Group writer