When technology gets addicting: Internet, Smartphones, Google Glass and more


Technology addiction is becoming more common, becoming a serious problem for those people and families caught in the issue.

The Navy's Substance Abuse and Recovery Program is currently treating a patient for addiction to the new Google Glass eyewear, in addition to alcohol. The unidentified 31-year-old male reportedly used the technology for 18 hours a day, reporting irritability and frustration when he was unable to use the equipment. He only removed the device from his body while sleeping and bathing.

Technology addiction goes well beyond its most recent history with Google Glass. Internet addiction has been recorded for years by psychologists, beginning soon after development of the network. Internet Use Disorder (IUD) is now recognized by many mental health workers, although it has yet to be recognized as a diagnosis in the standard Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Many other addictions, such as gambling and shopping, can also be compounded by Internet use.

Cellphone addition is also becoming a serious problem among a percentage of users. Baylor University researchers found that female college students spend up to 10 hours a day on smartphones, while their males counterparts averaged eight. Excessive use could lead to lower grades, as well as interfering with other aspects of life, according to a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions.

Most time on cellphones is spent texting, followed by reading and sending emails. Facebook use is also among the most-popular activities of students using their phones. Surprisingly, gambling and general surfing of the World Wide Web were not among the most popular activities. Roughly 60 percent of college students interviewed in the study admitted they could be addicted to their phones.

"That's astounding. As cellphone functions increase, addictions to this seemingly indispensable piece of technology become an increasingly realistic possibility," James Roberts, a researcher from the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University, said.

Neurological research shows that some patients treated for Internet addiction exhibit physical changes in their brains, similar to those seen in people addicted to cocaine, heroin, and other hard drugs.

The term technology addiction has been in use among mental health professionals since the mid-1990's. Many clinics around the world are now opening around the world, treating people, many of them young, who spend excessive time with electronics.

"Parents lament that their son or daughter is spending far too much time on the smartphone, or posting numerous photos on Facebook, or complaining of anxiety, loneliness and boredom when denied use of the device," Manoj Kumar Sharma, a doctor at the National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences (NIMHANS), said.

One 13-year-old girl in India recently committed suicide after her mother told the teen to delete her Facebook account.

The patient being treated for addiction to Google Glass has a history of depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and substance abuse.

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