Cyber Psychology is now an established discipline under behavioural sciences. It is a mostly research-based field, concerned with how humans and technology interact with one another.
It’s a study about how and why does human behaviour change in the online world. Everything from Internet to virtual reality to artificial intelligence makes the online world also known as “Cyberspace”.
Cyberpsychologist’s commonly study/investigate online personality development, online relationships, technology-related addictions and transference to computers. They attempt to find answers for some of the questions as follows:
- Why people behave the way they do on Internet, social media?
- What factors affect our drives and urges online?
- Why people display different identity when they are in the cybersphere?
- What is it that gets human addicted to cyber space – say internet or virtual games?
- How is internet, virtual reality, use of gadgets impacting human brain & behaviour?
- How do we deal with cyber-crimes & its impact on the victim?
Technology is the way ahead and cyber or virtual space is becoming integral part of our day to day lives. From toddlers to senior citizens everyone is using technology irrespective of the correct know how. The pace at which internet technology has entered our lives most of us are self-learning or self-exploring an unknown deep space without being aware of its impact.
Like every coin, internet technology also has two sides – benefits as well as risks and dangers giving rise to new age cyber-crimes and threats such as Cyberbullying, Hacking, Stalking, Harassment, Online Sex Offending, Trolling, Phising, Sextortion, Revenge Pornography and more. In fact we have come to a time phase where practically there is no crime which does not use technology & hence technically it becomes cyber-crime. The question here is “are we ready or aware of how to combat the effects of these crimes or threats?” Knowledge of traditional psychology alone may not suffice and needs new learning, investigations & research in internet psychology or cyber psychology. This study is a continuous learning as technology is ever emerging.
Some of the areas of study and work in cyber psychology are online identity, online relationships, personality types in cyberspace, negative & regressive behaviour in cyber space, addiction to internet & computers, online gender switching etc. There are some landmark researches done in Cyber psychology which help as guiding principle in understanding behavioural impact of internet technology on humans. For example: “Online Disinhibition” by Prof. John Suler, which tells us that what people do in virtual context that they may never do in real world. “Forensic Cyber psychology” by Dr Mary Aiken, which looks into behavioural evidence manifested in cyber context & helps in profiling online behaviour. “Internet Addiction” by Dr Kimberly Young and many more.
As a cyber psychologist my work involves understanding and profiling behaviour online, understanding the regressive behaviour in cyber space and providing intervention techniques with help of cognitive work and other therapies aimed towards behaviour modification. The following comprises of majority of my work
- Consulting tech companies whose products/services involve human-computer interaction. Such as Mobile App developers, Digital Communication Tools developers etc.
- Assisting in cyber-crime investigations
- Awareness seminars & talks on cyber-crimes & combating techniques
- Workshops on Cyber hygiene & etiquette
- Counselling and therapy for victims of cyber-crimes