Can gadget hoarding go too far? - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Can gadget hoarding go too far?

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Nicole Wakelin shows her collection of gadgets. Nicole Wakelin shows her collection of gadgets.
(WTVM) -

If you have a growing collection of old smart phones, laptops, and other devices you don't use, you might be a gadget hoarder.

In serious cases, holding onto aging electronics can classify as a clinical disorder! So how do you know if you have a problem?

Nicole Wakelin, for example, is not ready to get rid of her bins of old phones and other gizmos. She says her gadgets have grown on her.

"I have everything from phones that I haven't used in five years that are still sitting in a pile, various versions of the iPads that also sit in a pile that don't get used," says Wakelin.

Dr. Christina Villarreal is a behavior therapist who specializes in hoarding. She says 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," says Villarreal.

For serious hoarders, staying current can be a financial drain.

"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."

However, Villarreal says keeping a collection of dated devices isn't necessarily hoarding. As long as it does not affect a person's work life, home life, relationships, or ability to function, it shouldn't be a problem.

Wakelin says there is a practical reason for hanging on to 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, Wakelin does admit some emotional attachment to her collection. Villarreal says this is not uncommon.

"Some people hold onto electronic devices because they used them during a special time in their life. Maybe they had cell phones from college, pagers that they used in particular work settings," says Villarreal.

Consumer guru Andrea Woroch says people should consider selling their unused devices to help pay with monthly expenses.

Wakelin knows her stash could yield a lot of money, but she's holding on to it. At least for now.

"Gadgets are probably my big weakness. I try not to hoard anything else."

Another reason people may hold on to their old devices is because they do not want the personal information on them to fall into the wrong hands. If you need help doing this deleting the memory on your devices, visit any phone store to learn how to do a simple memory swipe.

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