Cyberpsychology: How Technology Affects You

New technologies have made remarkable changes in our lives. Cyberpsychology allows us to understand them.
Cyberpsychology: How Technology Affects You
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

Cyberpsychology was borne out of the necessity to advance a society that no longer understands itself without technology. Social media addiction, online pornography, cyberbullying, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence are some of the fields within this discipline. It’s a resource that continues to develop day by day.

Arthur C. Clarke said that politicians should read science fiction and not dramas, westerns, or detective stories. He was right. Because so many of the things that they used to include in invented stories and movies are now a reality. For example, terms like transhumanism and technogenesis now form part of our vocabulary.

Science suggests that, in a few years, we’ll have interfaces at our disposal to improve our physical and intellectual abilities. Undoubtedly there are many changes and challenges ahead. Cyberpsychology tries to explain, respond, and support all these different dimensions.

A woman's profile among a lot of data.

What’s the purpose of cyberpsychology?

More than half of the world’s population has access to the Internet. You likely have a mobile device, computer, or tablet you spend a great deal of time using. In fact, the impact of new technologies has completely reshaped the fabric of society. It even affects the way in which you understand reality.

Cyberpsychology is the study of human behavior in relation to technology, social media, and artificial intelligence. We all form part of this “matrix” that completely models our habits of interaction, socialization, leisure, learning, information, and shopping, etc.

Since we’re all now pretty much dependent on our devices and the Internet, this area of psychology is a necessity. It first emerged in the 1990s, when psychologist John Suler of Rider University in New Jersey wrote a book titled The Psychology of Cyberspace. In this book, he explains that he became aware that the goal of cyberpsychology should be to empower us all in order to make the Internet a better and safer place.

What does cyberpsychology study?

Research such as that conducted by Dr. Julie Ancis of the New Jersey City University points out that the Internet, mobile phones, and social networks have brought great benefits to everyone. However, they’ve also opened the door to new psychological disorders. Furthermore, to another kind of violence as well as cybercrime.

Cyberpsychology seeks to understand these trends. Their main areas of intervention and analysis are:

Social media

Social media consists of more than just apps to stay in touch with your friends. In fact, it’s your window onto the world. It’s also the mirror in which you’re reflected. You process reality through social media, receive and share information, post photos and comments, and interact with strangers.

The psychological dynamics that are integrated into this social scenario are immense and often decisive. For this reason, it’s essential to understand and know how to act in the face of everything that’s triggered here. For example, we know that young people’s mental health is closely linked to the use and abuse of social networks.

Compression of online communities

People are grouped into virtual communities in digital spaces where they share and create information. Sometimes, this is done in an enriching and productive manner. However, at other times, it becomes the perfect setting for cybercrime to take place.

Mobile device use and abuse

How do you use your mobile phone? Does it vary depending on how old you are? Cyberpsychology studies subjects like nomophobia and mobile phone addiction.

Addictions: games, pornography, and online shopping

In recent years, behavioral addictions have taken the place of substance addictions. For example, addiction to online gambling, video games, pornography, and online shopping.

Cyberbullying and the dynamics of online aggression

Cyberbullying is another form of violence that occurs with increasing frequency, particularly among adolescents. Cyberpsychology also studies phenomena such as smear campaigns, fake news, Internet trolls, memes, etc.

A man looking at his phone.

Social engineering and manipulation

Social manipulation and cyberattacks are common on the Internet. For example, there are spear-phishing attacks (SMS or e-mail hoaxes). These seek to infect terminals with malware to steal your personal information.

Psychological wellness-oriented cyberpsychology

Cyberpsychology is, above all, the study of the effect of technology on the development of the individual and their social participation in shared spaces. In effect, this increased use of technology is a big step in our evolution.

However, the main goal is for areas like artificial intelligence must always be acting for us and not against us. Since the American Psychological Association (APA) now recognizes cyberpsychology as another emerging specialty of psychology, it suggests that this is, indeed, their overall goal.

Currently, online therapy or virtual reality in the treatment of anxiety, phobias, and certain disorders is increasingly common. In fact, they’re a clear example of how this universe of cables, connections, algorithms, and subroutines can benefit us, heal us, and enhance our psychological well-being.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Ancis, J. R. (2020). The age of cyberpsychology: An overview. Technology, Mind, and Behavior1(1).
  • Singh, A. K., & Singh, P. K. (2019). Recent trends, current research in cyberpsychology: A literature review. Library Philosophy and Practice2019.
  • Voiskounsky, A. (2016). Online behavior: Interdisciplinary perspectives for cyberpsychology. Annual Review of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine14, 16–22.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.