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The Rise of Cyberpsychology

October 25, 2019

Illustration: silhouette of a human head with circuit pattern in place of hair representing cyberpsychology.

From the printing press to the rise of film photography, new technology has always played a role in the ways humans think about the world and their position in it. Rapid technological progress in the last 50 years, though, has intensely altered the way we interact with each other. As a result, the way we think is notably differently as we consume new information, communicate with others, and internalize our feelings.

To help make sense of it all – and to provide effective solutions to unintended, severe mental health problems that arise from online technology – researchers have developed a new field: cyberpsychology.

How Technology Shapes Human Psychology

Modern technology has created a climate where online behaviors can have immense mental health benefits and consequences offline. In other words, technology is dramatically changing the way people think and feel.

Like the Forbes Coaches Council has reported, the way that we interact with each other and our perceptions of reality have dramatically shifted because of the effect of technology on our thinking. They focus on how buying and selling things, dating, planning a doctor visit, and even waiting in line has changed. As a result, our approach to the world and ourselves has taken an entirely new form where we’re constantly inundated by new information. With a constant news cycle, an endless feed of text and images, and an unending exposure to celebrity and influencer culture, our ways of thinking have been, for better or worse, undeniably linked to technology.

Social Media Addictions

Behavioral addictions have started gaining attention in psychological circles. People are finding it harder to disconnect from the technological opportunities around them. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, both extroverts and introverts are developing addictive practices because of the easy access to social networking sites (SNSs). The report found that the more people are unhealthily engaged on social media, the more likely they are to have lower academic achievement, lower job performance, and greater real-life relationship problems – each indicative of potential addictive behaviors. This study answers the question, what does social media do to your brain?


FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is a psychological, social, and technological phenomenon where users experience severe mental health consequences like anxiety, lower self-esteem, and depression because of content posted on social media. In other words, users feel FOMO when they see friends or followers post content that exclude them, which only further exacerbates feelings of isolation.

Online Gaming Addictions

Internet gaming addictions are controversial in the field of psychology right now. Even though the World Health Organization has recently identified “gaming disorder” as a classified issue worthy of greater attention, psychologists still remain split on how to approach it from a clinical standpoint. The American Psychiatric Association rightly finds that the disorder, which is continuing to gain popularity, should receive more research in scholarly and academic circles. The more data that researchers have to work with, the better equipped they can be to respond.

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The Significance of Cyberpsychology

As technology advances and increasingly continues to affect our modes of thinking, psychologists have decided to focus their efforts in a new field. The result is cyberpsychology, which has become a meeting point for psychologists and scientists representing a vast array of disciplinary concentrations., a resource by and for academics who negotiate the ongoing junctures of technology and psychology, provides a clear definition for cyberpsychology. It says, “the psychological phenomena which emerge as a result of the human interaction with digital technology, particularly the internet.” The interdisciplinary approach has received significantly more attention in scholarly circles because of its exploration of topics like:

  • Online dating and relationships.
  • Self-perception in an online space.
  • Social media and cyberspace addiction.
  • Regressive and problematic behavior types online.

Moreover, the scholars attached to this group find the blossoming field necessary because our world continues to blend technology and psychology.

The field is rising in popularity so much that a peer-reviewed, scholarly journal has been developed to confront these issues of pervasive technology and its effect on our psyches. Called Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, the publication looks to provide empirical, quantitative, and qualitative research on a number of known or unknown problems brought on by digital landscape. Here, the groundwork is being laid for future attention to the ongoing intersection of technology and psychology, where serious and pressing topics can be explored by authorities across a number of fields.

In sum, cyberpsychology exists today to give research questions concerning the undeniable link between technology and psychology to help improve the human experience. By collecting raw data and applying that data to solid conclusions, people are ultimately much better equipped to confront contemporary psychological problems that arise in our constantly connected world.

Future Implications

Technology will only continue to advance. And as it does, more attention will have to be directed at the ways that our psychological makeups are changing because of those advancements. Outside of the obvious research benefits that come from the rise of cyberpsychology in the field, there are many real-world, immediate applications for the field.

Some of these opportunities exist in the world today. For example, online therapy has already begun to rise in popularity, especially in communities where mental health professionals are not as readily available or accessible. The American Psychological Association has examined its benefits, where “the explosion of smartphone users has created new opportunities for app-based companies to offer more accessible and affordable therapy.”

Further, the organization highlights how this kind of therapy is an excellent introduction into the world of therapy. Where some may have reservations about committing to a therapist, these low-stakes sessions – as they would likely begin – are perfect for getting a person to explore a tangible method of improving their mental health.

At the same time, though, the APA notes that the technology in its current state does not allow for the direct connection afforded in face-to-face therapy sessions. Additionally, “some online therapy companies don’t have clear guidelines for handling risky situations, such as a patient who may seem suicidal in his or her messaging responses.” Online therapists in these instances may not have the appropriate tools to intervene or alleviate problems as serious as these.

But as technology progresses, these online therapy sessions, which right now occur over the phone, in a video call, or through a text-based instant messaging exchange, will indeed become more immersive. As VR technology becomes more sophisticated and accessible, these therapy sessions will only increase in their effectiveness.

You have the opportunity to join the ranks of these groundbreaking mental health professionals and to discover new trends in cyberpsychology. King University offers a fully online B.S. in Psychology that will prompt you to engage in the way that social media and technology are affecting – and being used to help negotiate – the mental health of people online. Cyberpsychology is a blossoming field that welcomes new perspectives at all levels, from research to practice in therapy. Check out our program today and position yourself best to navigate the psycho / techno problems of tomorrow.