MIT students' shocking cure for Facebook addiction

Two MIT doctorates have worked out that the best way to solve Facebook addiction is shock treatment.

Robert Morris and Daniel McDuff have developed a device they call Pavlov Poke, named after Nobel Prize-winning Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov.

In his study of dogs, Pavlov found that a stimulus ringing a bell could be linked to a previously unrelated response, creating what’s known as a conditioned reflex.

While Pavlov’s cat experiments did not work, as the cat kept walking off, Morris and McDuff wanted to use Pavlov’s technique to deter the use of Facebook.

The pair created an Arduino-based keyboard hand rest that shocks computer users who spend too much time checking the social network.

The device could be altered to punish over-reliance on Google or any other website. It could also be used to prevent kids from logging into sites they shouldn’t.

In the UK David Cameron could use it to stop people finding out anything at all.

Morris said that the technique was too good. The shocks were so aversive, the researchers removed the device quickly after installing it.

He said that as a result he’s no longer “dragged to Facebook by some mysterious Ouija-esque compulsion”.

The system does not have to zap you. It could be configured to respond to excessive social networking with howler telephone calls thanks to’s on-demand labour service Mechanical Turk.