The Law of Unintended Consequences is always lurking in a dark corner, waiting to turn even the most positive development into a negative. We’ve seen people develop problems with all sorts of social media and mobile technology, from social media to smartphones. Now we can add a new and unlikely risk factor: Google Glass. According to a paper published in the professional journal Addictive Behaviors, doctors in San Diego have documented what may be the first case of Google Glass addiction.
According to the report, the patient exhibited “Excessive and problematic uses of Google Glass [including] involuntary movements to the temple area and short-term memory problems.” The patient, a 31-year-old Navy employee, would tap his right temple when asked a question, even when he was not wearing the head-mounted display. He also would become frustrated and irritable when he was not allowed to wear the device. He received a 35-day residential treatment, which helped reduce the involuntary temple-tapping, and improved his short-term memory and thinking ability. It is worth noting that this individual has a history of mood and anxiety disorders, along with “severe” tobacco and alcohol use disorders.
The lesson here is not that Google Glass or other “always-on, always-connected” mobile Internet technologies are certain to rot your brain, but as with any other technology, their use requires some self-awareness and monitoring, especially for those prone to “going overboard” in activities ranging from substance abuse to diets to exercise. There can be too much of a good thing, and users need to be wary about their interactions with any device so that the initial infatuation does not blossom into a full-blown dependency.