The new and exciting field of cyberpsychology encompasses all psychological phenomena that are associated with or affected by emerging technology. Cyber comes from the word cybernetics, the study of the operation of control and communication; psychology is the study of the mind and behaviour.
Cyberpsychology is the study of the human mind and its behaviour in the context of human interaction and communication of both man and machine, further expanding its bounds with the culture of computers and virtual reality that take place on the Internet. However, mainstream research studies seem to focus on the effect of the Internet and cyberspace on the psychology of individuals and groups. Some hot topics include: online identity, online relationships, personality types in cyberspace, transference to computers, addiction to computers and internet, regressive behaviour in cyberspace, online gender-switching, etc.
While statistical and theoretical research in this field is based around Internet usage, cyberpsychology also includes the study of the psychological ramifications of cyborgs, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality amongst other things. Although some of these topics may appear to be the stuff of science fiction, they are quickly becoming science fact as evidenced by interdisciplinary approaches involving the fields of biology, engineering, and mathematics. The field of cyberpsychology remains open to refinement as well as new purposes including inquiry into the nature of current and future trends in mental illness associated with technological advances.
It was around the turn of the millennium that people in the United States broke the 50 per cent mark in Internet use, personal computer use, and cell phone use. With such a broad exposure to computers and their displays, our perceptions go beyond objects and images in our natural environment and now includes the graphics and images on the computer screen. As the overlaps between man and machine expand, the relevance of human-computer interaction (HCI) research within the field of cyberpsychology will become more visible and necessary in understanding the current modern lifestyles of many people. With the rising number of Internet and computer users around the world, it is evident that technology's effects on the human psyche will continue to significantly shape both our interactions with each other and our perceptions of the world that is literally "at our fingertips."