BOSTON (CBS) – It can be hard to say goodbye to a trusted friend – like an old cell phone or iPod. In fact, some people won’t discard any of their old gadgets. And for some people, it is getting out of hand.
Nicole Wakelin has boxes of old electronics that she just can’t seem to throw away. “I have everything from phones that I haven’t used in five years that are still sitting in a pile, various version of the iPad that also sit in a pile and don’t get used,” said Wakelin. “It’s hard to part with it. You know, it means so much when you buy it.”
Dr. Christina Villareal, a behavior therapist who specializes in hoarding, believes gadget hoarding is becoming more prevalent. “Gadget hoarding is a form of hoarding disorder, which is a person having persistent difficulty with parting with their possessions, regardless of their value.”
This can be a financial strain for serious hoarders. “I’ve definitely seen patients who struggled with feeling the need to accrue electronic devices, in spite of their ability to afford them. It’s definitely becoming an increased area of concern for many people,” said Dr. Villareal.
At what point is holding onto a box of old phones a problem? Dr. Villareal said, “Holding onto an old cell phone or old laptop isn’t necessarily hoarding or a problem, as long as it’s not affecting a person’s work life, home life, relationships, and ability to function.”
Nicole says she’s not that far gone, and points to practical reasons for hanging onto old electronics. “We haven’t gotten rid of them because there’s that sense, what if something happened that I needed this as a backup?”
However, Nicole does admit some emotional attachment to her collection. That is actually quite common, according to Dr. Villareal. “Some people hold onto electronic devices because they used them during a special time in their life. Maybe they had cell phones from college, or pagers that they used in particular work settings.”
Just leaving these items in a junk drawer can be a lost financial opportunity, according to consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch. “Consider selling them so you can help pay for some monthly expenses, like your cable or electricity bill.”
“I know what I would do if I sold the old stuff. I would buy better and greater gadgets than I already have,” admitted Wakelin.