What in the world is Cyberpsychology?? And what does psychology have to do with computers?? This is exactly what those in this field are looking to find out. By definition, cyberpsychology is a developing field that encompasses all psychological phenomena associated with or affected by emerging technology.
For many scientists and psychologists, technology is proving to be a detriment to mankind’s mental health. A few of the areas they have looked at is how technology such as phones or a mobile device of some sort, is affecting things like parenting, anxiety, and how children function; anxiety being a major study.
Recently, we’ve seen a rise in anxiety in children. This has been evident in the sales of things like the fidget spinner and fidget cube. They are said to reduce the anxious feelings in both children and adults, many of whom struggle with things like ADHD and autism. These toys have brought out studies that many psychologists have done on the science of movement therapy for children with those illnesses. They also did a study of a similar nature with college students. The students had their smartphones taken from them and during that time, they were monitored for anxiety and stress levels. Over the span of about an hour, several students were monitored three times. At the 30 minute mark, about a third were showing significant stress and anxiety level increases. But, at the same time, half the group had their phone taken and replaced with a claim check and the other half were asked to turn their phone off and put it out of sight. Clearly, “out of sight is definitely not out of mind.”
Because of studies like this, people like Tristan Harris have devoted their careers to studying things like this and telling people how to stop allowing technology to hack our minds. He even did a TED talk about the subject.
Another study was done about cyberbullying and how it can be prevented. One study showed that 25% of all middle school and high school students have reported being bullied and 16% of that same group reported being bullies themselves. With alarming rates such as these, parents are obviously concerned about how to handle this. This study has led to an algorithm that is being developed to alert parents when a child is being bullied from the first instance of the message. According to Dr. Mary Aiken, cyberbullying can be reduced to a specific algorithm. This will then be put into an app that parents can use to monitor their children’s internet conversations and usage.
As someone who enjoys studying both technology and psychology, I believe this new field is extremely important. Cell phones and laptops are things we as a society have only had recently. So, we don’t really know what the long-term effects of increased usage will be. This is where people studying in this field can come in handy. They will hopefully be able to create more awareness to things like cyberbullying and the links to anxiety and tech usage. If we are more aware of the possible issues these things can cause, we can be better prepared to handle them. But, as with everything else, in order for a change to happen, the person or group of people has to recognize there’s a problem and want to change. If that doesn’t happen, nothing will get better. So I sincerely back this field of study and wish that it will continue to develop and grow. Maybe one day in the near future they will be able to change the way we look at our technology usage.