“The Cyber Effect” is the title of an important book by Mary Aiken, Ph.D., a cyberpsychologist. The subtitle of the book is “A Pioneering Cyberpsychologist Explains How Human Behavior Changes Online.” She is the director the CyberPsychology Research Network and an advisor to Europol, and has conducted research and training workshops with multiple global agencies from INTERPOL to the FBI and the White House. She is based in Ireland.
This book should be read by anyone who spends nontrivial amounts of time in cyberspace. It should be compulsory reading for anyone with children who uses mobile devices.
The internet has had an enormous impact on our lives. Perhaps some are not aware of this impact as it gradually increased its affects on the way we live. Dr. Aiken defines cyberpsychology as “the study of the impact of emerging technology on human behavior.” She continues, “It’s not just a case of being online or offline; “cyber” refers to anything digital , anything tech—from Bluetooth to driverless cars. That means I study human interactions with technology and digital media, mobile and networked devices, framing, virtual reality, artificial intelligence (AI), intelligence amplification (IA)—anything from cellphones to cyborgs. But mostly I concentrate on Internet psychology. If something qualifies as “technology” and has the potential to impact or change behavior, I want to look at how—and consider why.”
Dr. Aiken is not one of those who decry how technology is some evil entity that has upended our lives, nor as something that inevitably leads to utopia. She writes, “Technology is not good or bad in its own right. It is neutral and simply mediates behavior—which means it can be used well or poorly by humankind.” “Any technology can be misused.”
One of her earliest influences was J.C.R. Licklider, a psychologist who wrote a seminal paper in 1960, “Man Computer Symbiosis,” which predated the Internet and foretold the potential for a symbiotic relationship between man and machine. Licklider has been one of HM’s idols since HM was an undergraduate, and it has been a lifelong frustration that a true symbiosis is yet to be realized.
As “The Cyber Effect” is such an important book, I plan to devote a post to each of the chapters excluding the first chapter. The first chapter is titled “The Normalization of a Fetish” and discusses how cyberspace technology has change sexual behavior. In addition to fostering new perversions, or at least ones unknown to HM, it explains how cyberspace has expanded contact with others in cyberspace, contacts that would have remained unknown without cyberspace. Moreover, it has increased the acceptance of formerly proscribed behaviors. Nothing more will be written in this blog on this topic. To learn more, read the book, which you should be doing in any case.
Here are the chapters that will have a post devoted to them. These are the individual topics, which are more informative than the chapter titles: internet addiction; the effects of cybertechnology on babies; the effects of cybertechnology on children; the effects of cybertechnology on adolescents; romance in cyberspace; cyberchondria, which is hypochondria fostered in cyberspace; the deep web, where illegal activity occurs; and the final chapter the discusses important topics that need to be considered for the future.
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