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The Pavlov Poke Gives You an Electric Shock If You Spend Too Much Time on Facebook

Pavlov Poke

How many hours do you spend on the Internet a day? I think it’s safe to say that you’ve got a problem–or more like an addiction, really–if it’s more than half the total time you’re awake. Why spend your time cooped up indoors, looking at pictures of people doing all sorts of fun things that you could otherwise be doing?

With this in mind, MIT PhD students Robert Morris and Dan McDuff came up with the Pavlov Poke.

The name is misleading, though, because their contraption doesn’t just poke you. It actually gives you an electric shock if you’re spending too much time on the web. Ouch!

McDuff explains: “It monitors application usage, and if you spend too much time on a particular Web site or application, it will give you a shock.” While the shock is unpleasant, it’s definitely not dangerous. At least, that’s what McDuff says. In case it isn’t obvious enough, the Pavlov Poke is more of a novelty rather than an actual product design.

Morris adds: “To be truly effective, many shock exposures are probably needed. Proper conditioning procedures should be followed. Sadly, we found the shocks so aversive, we removed the device pretty quickly after installing it. Anecdotally, however, I did notice a significant, though temporary, reduction in my Facebook usage.”