NEW YORK — Dan Nainan can't trust himself to work at his computer without clicking on distractions, so he uses an Internet-blocking program to shut down his Web access twice a day.
"I'm sorry, but try as I might, I could never, ever do this on my own," said the New York City comedian who's struggling to finish a book. "I wish I could, but I just don't have the discipline."
Nainan's system of two, two-hour blocks is one example of how Americans are trying to control their impulses using technology that steps in to enforce good behavior.
With the new year days away, many tools are now available to help people stay in line, including a GPS-enabled app that locks down texting once a car gets rolling and a program that cuts off credit-card spending. Another device monitors your workout and offers real-time voice feedback.
Have we entered an era in which electronics serve as mother, cop and coach because we can't manage our own desires?
Yep, said Ann Mack, a trend-watcher for JWT Intelligence, an arm of the marketing giant. She named "outsourcing self-control" and "de-teching" as two top trends for the new year.
"The thing is we're becoming more aware of these behaviors, and as a result, we're trying to seek help to circumvent some of our more base impulses," Mack said. "We're bombarded more and more with temptations on a regular basis, and it's getting increasingly difficult to deal with that."
Tools to cope with temptation are everywhere.
Some car owners are voluntarily using a technology developed for convicted drunk drivers — ignition locks attached to in-car breathalyzers.