I have no ability to maintain self control over anything I do. Thankfully I do not enjoy acts such as smoking, or drinking. Yet, the level to which I can’t maintain self control over the things I do enjoy is debilitating, and frustrating. I am constantly on electronics, not socially though (E.g. Talking to people). I can’t seem to stop myself from playing video games, surfing the internet, etc. This is not regular either, I’m a student and I would say almost every minute I’m not eating, or attending class, I’m on my computer, or phone. This can go until 8:00AM the next day, or I’ll even just pull an all-nighter to continue doing what I’m doing on my devices.

This works its way into other areas of my life as well. I can’t maintain a steady workout practice, I can’t maintain dental hygiene, I can’t work harder in my classes. I also suffer from pretty severe diagnosed depression, as well as inattentive ADHD. I will not leave my house for most of the day so I can be on my computer, and will not leave my room if I hear my roommates are out there, because there could be a conversation that would eat into my precious “free time”. My sleep schedule is an absolute mess due to my lack of self-control, and some days I go to bed at 8PM and some days it’s 8AM. I never know, and I feel exhausted non-stop.

I don’t really have any excuses for this, but I just can’t stop. I’ve tried creating regiments, to-do lists, calendars. I’ve tried blocking apps, programs, games, etc. My degrees deal heavily with science and computers, so I still need to use them on a daily basis for my classes. The only thing I use to justify my behavior is that I’m smart. I don’t mean this in a brag-y way. I hate it. I’ve always been told I’m too smart, and it has caused me to be less of who I could be. I have skipped upwards of 5 weeks straight of classes just to go on my technology, but I can get away with it, and still get the A. I hate that. I want to be punished so I have a reason to stop. My health, and mental sanity is being destroyed by the lack of control I have in my life.

A. The inability to stop using technology is a common problem. If you Google “can’t stop using phone” or related keywords you will find many articles about the subject. Researchers are trying to determine why people can’t seem to put down their phones.

Modern technology is also causing problems on the roadways. Texting while driving is a serious health hazard, yet many people continue to do it. Researchers say it’s mainly because texting while driving is not yet considered socially unacceptable, as is the combination of drinking while driving. Until people see it as shameful it seems that they will continue to do it.

Part of the problem is that technology is universally accessible. The majority of individuals have smart phones. Pews Research Center indicates that 77% of Americans own smart phones. Many people who have them are struggling with the same types of issues you have described.

Some researchers consider the inability to stop using technology to be an addiction. It provides quick feedback and instant gratification. If so, it is not necessarily a matter of “self-control” for which you need to be “punished.” They say that it provides a high similar to illicit drugs or gambling. It seems to be a habit that for some is difficult to break.

You might try researching how to stop using technology but the best and most efficient solution is to consult a knowledgeable local therapist. This is especially important because of your possible depression and attention deficit disorder. These may be worsening the problem and in fact may be its main contributors. A good therapist will examine the problem and design an effective solution. Ask your primary care physician for a referral or consult the university counseling center. They will help you to find the appropriate counseling services. Good luck and please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle