Technological developments impact our minds and lives in many ways. They have provided us access to modern modes of communication, various new opportunities, and resource-sharing worldwide. Around 58% of the world’s population uses the internet. Sharing and creating information and ideas through social media has become a primary form of communication. People have developed ‘technological intimacy’ with the devices, carrying and using them wherever they want. However, with the growth of technology and an increasingly interconnected world, we also face some issues. Social interactions, behavioral patterns and communication have been transformed globally. Cybercriminals have discovered unlimited new methods of exploitation. Therefore, in addition to managing the challenges of our real lives, we need to handle the pressure of how we behave online and how we maintain our digital personalities.
The question arises why is our online behavior different, and why do we take risks that we would not take in real lives? Cyberpsychology answers this.
What is cyberpsychology?
Cyberpsychology is the discipline of understanding the psychological processes related to all aspects of technologically interconnected human behavior. It includes multiple and intersecting disciplines like computer science, psychology, engineering and human-computer interaction. It is also referred to as internet or web psychology. This interdisciplinary approach has become significant attention in scholarly circles because it explored topics, such as:
- Self-perception online
- Online dating and relationships
- Social media and cyberspace addiction
- Regressive and problematic behavior types online.
Studying cyberpsychology allows people to understand psychological weaknesses in humans interacting with technology to become more aware, responsible and secure online. Experts usually pursue a master’s degree in cyberpsychology to become professional cyber psychologists. They use the knowledge of this field to understand how online life affects their patients. Furthermore, it helps them know how to tackle patients’ internet and computer-related psychological issues. Finally, they will classify cybercrimes and apply forensic psychology to deviant online behavior.
How does technology shape our minds?
Modern technology has created an environment where online behaviors can have great mental health benefits and consequences offline. In fact, technology has dramatically changed the way people think and feel. According to Forbes Coaches Council, how we interact with each other and our perceptions of reality have shifted because of technology’s effect on our thinking. As a result, our approach to ourselves and the world has taken a new form where we are continuously inundated by new information.
Social media addictions
Behavioral addictions have gained attention in psychological circles. It’s getting hard for people to disconnect from the technology around them. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, extroverts and introverts develop addictive practices due to ease of access to social networking sites. People who get engaged on social media have a higher probability of lower academic achievement, lower job performance, and more real-life relationship issues. One reason for this might be their trust and dependency on social media or, in other words – a fake world.
FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out
Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is a psychological, social, and technological condition in which people experience severe anxiety, depression, and lower self-esteem because of content posted on social media. People start feeling isolated when their friends and followers post content that excludes them, leading to FOMO.
Online Gaming Addictions
The issue of online gaming addictions is still controversial in psychology. Although WHO has identified ‘gaming disorder’ as an issue of greater attention, psychologists are still unsure how to approach it from a clinical standpoint. The American Psychiatric Association finds that this disorder should receive more research in scholarly circles. The more data available to researchers, the better equipped they can be to respond.
Technology is impeding our ability to focus on things we should focus on. In some situations, this can be amusing, while it is downright scary in some scenarios. For instance, we use a mobile phone while driving, which reduces brain activity by as much as 37%. Unfortunately, people face many severe accidents and stay aloof from important events in life due to this.
Whatever we do online, whatever we share publicly or not so publicly, from the content to private conversations, and our locations, everything is recorded and documented. Through recordability, things can be revisited, re-experienced and analyzed. This data can be used against us by people having malicious intent. It is no wonder that cybercrime continues to increase at a rapid pace.
We can tailor our digital selves to different audiences in online life. This is possible since there is a lack of physical characteristics in communication, such as appearance, body language and emotional expressions. Moreover, this flexible identity can be used for behaviors having misleading or malicious nature. These may include identity frauds and phishing scams. For example, a cybercriminal can use digital information to develop a closer and more trustworthy link with you.
The disinhibition effect
The disinhibition effect explains how we exhibit a change in digital environments. We pretend to be confident and open. The dark side of it is affecting many of us. We have poor judgment online and are getting prone to making bad decisions. For instance, we are more confident in sharing and discussing our personal details online. This can be influenced by the idea of being invisible and anonymous, leading to behaving more irresponsibly online and failing to consider the consequences of our actions.
Modern technological developments have provided great opportunities, freedom, convenience and connectivity. In a nutshell, technology apparently makes our lives easier. Information can be shared anywhere in the world within seconds. At the same time, it is important to be cautious of the negative effects caused by technological advancements. Technology is affecting the ways we think. It impedes our focus, changing how we read and write and removing us from our moments. Social media addictions, online gaming addictions and FOMO are some of the major adverse effects of technology. With a better understanding of our psychological weaknesses related to our interaction with technology, we can become more responsible and digitally secure. Knowledge of cyberpsychology helps us in doing so.