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Agence France-Presse
August 30, 2013
Want to curb the time you spend scrolling through your Facebook News Feed? Two MIT PhD students have developed a radical solution: by creating a device that delivers small shocks to your hand when you linger too long on the social media site.

When Robert R. Morris and Dan McDuff realized that they were logging in more than 50 hours a week on Facebook -- precious time that could be devoted to say, penning their dissertations -- they decided to take action in the form of aversion therapy. Dubbed Pavlov Poke, the system tracks your actions and sends a signal to an Arduino board that, in turn, administers a harmless yet painful shock.

While it's not for sale and is intended as a joke, the device is garnering a lot of buzz, if you will, on the internet, with bloggers discussing the real hazards of internet addiction. According to Morris and McDuff, Facebook users are on the site an average of 400 minutes per month. Prior research has found that social media can be as addictive as gambling, cigarettes, and alcohol. To see how you measure up, tech blogger Gizmag has even posted a scale to gauge your level of Facebook addition here: http://www.gizmag.com/bergen-facebook-addiction-scale/22460/

Morris and McDuff have also come up with an alternate solution: rather than electric shocks, the device can post a job request to Amazon's Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing labor market website, offering cash for someone to call you up and scold you for using Facebook or watching too many cat videos on YouTube.

Other ways to control your online time-wasting include StayFocused for Chrome users and LeechBlock for Firefox users. Or try apps such as Freedom and Self Control to switch off your internet connection for blocks of time to allow for concentration and creative thinking.