The world has changed…the birth of computer technology and the Internet seems to be altering the way we live at a break-neck pace. Just take a look around at how our lives are changed…it’s truly mind-boggling! We are attached to our cell phones, google answers to questions that used to go unanswered or take weeks of research and luck, text our friends incessantly, are always “wired,” live in online fantasy worlds, tweet, have a vast network of friends that we connect with constantly on Facebook, create our own videos for millions to view, physically interact with video games, listen to music in new ways, subscribe to podcasts, find dating partners…and now the iPad and tablet computing might further reshape our lives in ways that are hard to predict.
How will all of these new technologies affect our lives? Do they make us happier or more stressed? Do we get more done…or do we just think we do? Are they addictive? Do they impair or enhance our friendships and relationships? Our sex lives? Our productivity? How do these technologies change who we are? These questions and others are the realm of cyberpsychology, which is the study of how the human mind, emotions, and behavior are affected by technology.
Cyberpsychology is a strong personal interest for me. I have always been interested in technology and how it affects our lives. I was entranced by the very first video games…Pong, the Atari 2600, and early arcade games such as Asteroids, Space Invaders, and Donkey Kong. I’ve continued to play video games over the years, and now play (age-appropriate) video games with my two sons (with limits set on the amount they can play and what games). As a graduate student, I was able to turn my passion into a scholarly pursuit – I conducted my dissertation research on the effects of video game violence on children. I also used to work as a usability specialist in the computer world (i.e., studying how to make websites more user-friendly).
Technology inherently is neither good nor bad. It just is. My hope is to use the amazing technology that we have available as a platform to talk about how technology is affecting our lives. We are all on this journey together. Perhaps through this process, we can learn how to better benefit from technology while mitigating some of the negative aspects.