Technology and Procrastination: What Causes Procrastination?

In high schools all around the United States, all students can agree: procrastination always seems to get into the way of productivity.


But why is that?


Procrastination is not an unfamiliar phenomenon. When a student comes home from school, the last thing they want to do is continue working. As a result, they spend their time on unrelated activities, such as eating, sleeping, and using technology so that they can avoid the inevitable work. This leads to common exchanges between parents and children, such as “Get off your phone!” And “If you wouldn’t spend so much time on your computer, you would be able to get some work done!”

In this day and age, technology seems to encapsulate everything we do, and an increasing number of people are beginning to believe technology is to blame for the procrastination that is taking ahold of so many young student’s lives. It is not unreasonable to blame technology for procrastination, because more and more students are given access to new technology every day. However, although technology may give students an excuse to divert their attention away from work, procrastination is not caused by technology, but rather caused by every humans innate fear of confrontation and work.

In a recent survey conducted at Oakton High School, it was found that about 80% of all student recipients were self-identified “procrastinators.” Along with this, the same survey reported that 100% of the students reported that they have used technology such as phones, laptops, and TV to procrastinate. However, a follow-up question also revealed that only 6% of the students surveyed regularly used technology to procrastinate, and that most of the students preferred activities such as eating, sleeping, and exercising. In the same survey, 100% of the students all claimed that procrastination was harmful to academic success. This data proves that there is much more to understand about procrastination, and that simply blaming technology does not completely reveal why students procrastinate.

With this information, understanding the cause of procrastination is extremely important in order to help combat it. Procrastination is like a drug; the more one partakes in it, the more one becomes susceptible to it. Every time a student procrastinates, they appease their brain’s gratification system, and they feel reduced stress and higher levels of relaxation. This ultimately leads to continued procrastination, which has many negative effects on the student’s mental health and academic achievement. This proves that procrastination is more than just a bad habit caused by technology, and that it is important to reduce it so that students can be as physically and mentally healthy as possible.

Procrastination is difficult to manage, but not impossible. Because procrastination is a psychological behavior, it can be quelled through brief psychological conditioning. Simple tasks, such as organizing schedules, can be effective in preventing procrastination. Along with the survey mentioned previously, Organization can allow one to allot a certain time designated for work, and a certain time designated for relaxation. This type of time organization, while seemingly elementary, can help reduce stress levels associated with work as well as increase motivation to continue working. Another strategy that can be implemented is to create a reward system for assignments, so that every time a task is completed the brain is rewarded with something, such as food, or sleep. This type of conditioning allows for the brain to enjoy completing tasks, because it will associate completion of work with relaxation and enjoyment.  

While these strategies can be helpful to deter procrastination, it is still dependent on how each person responds to the conditioning. Regardless of this, understanding the link between procrastination and psychology, and understanding the minimal role that technology plays in the relationship can help students truly make efforts to stop procrastination for the betterment of their own lives.