A demonstration and overview of how what 'virtual reality' is, and a tour of some of the latest applcations.
Psychology, Healthcare, Augmented & Virtual Reality
A fascinating and educational presentation by a panel who are truly at the cutting edge. Immersive VR therapies for pain management, treatments for PTSD, secure and meaningful treatment and supervision systems, and a look across the spectrum of reality to immersive virtuality. Multi-media, and 3D too! ;-)
Telehealth and Telepsychology Licensure - A panel of experts in U.S. licensing law and professional regulation across the US explain it all: systems, law, issues of access, protection, and jurisdiction... and the context and the implications for 21st Centuryy practice.
Life in the 21st Century increasingly involves multi-tasking, digital communication tools, social and professional networks, mobile technology, and an "app" or product for almost everything one might crave, on-demand. Our lives, on either side of the Digital Native Divide, become shaped and influenced by the ease and constancy of multi-tasking, new shared expectations and social norms, and widespread devotion to devices.
[ Freud called this cathexis or displacement. :-) ]
The dazzling shift in the ways most people now divide attention/focus and approach tasks - with greater or lesser success via multi-tasking - is important to recognize, and necessary to accommodate in areas of research and practice. The implications for psychotherapy and counseling are obvious, and equally so for education - informational, practical, and social. "Cyberpsychology" becomes an important concept and a useful
frame for exploring the interface between human experience and the role of digital tools of all colors and stripes.
Research with Virtual Reality (VR) has led, for example, to a treatment tool for PTSD which is being used now with returning soldiers and others. Work with augmented and virtual reality has been very promising, as research and practice demonstrate efficacy across a range of medical and psychological treatments, from anxiety & phobias to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to Pain Management. Modalities now include avatar-based immersive virtual environments as well as several variations of online cognitive behavior therapy (CCBT) and more. There is also a plethora of research to demonstrate the efficacy of online support groups.
This is being written at a time when brain science research (e.g., at MIT, Stanford University, and UCLA) is producing important findings at a structural level, while the social/behavioral science of psychology enters a second century of empirical and clinical exploration into the essential elements of human experience across time and situation- i.e., behavior, thinking, and feeling (in varying order).
Reflecting the challenges and complexities of daily life experience, psychology has become increasingly focused on those day-to-day experiences which influence our sense of self and our world,
and reflect the "real world" as experienced today, with issues ranging from violence to machine learning, social networking, multi-task processing and "Facebook addiction". Plus the timeless concerns of all people, such as success in school, work, relationships, and finding happiness.
For some, technology itself can facilitate or alleviate stress. Entire new lifestyles are emerging which range from casual work/social multi-tasking to "Online Addiction" to participation in online support groups, Tele-health/mental health treatment, and distance learning. List-servs, chat, forums and websites have become part of human experience. Not to forget widgets, gadgets, blogs, "apps", games, Farmville, Twitter, or YouTube!
Cyberpsychology.com will endeavor to present some of the hot topics in Psychology, or "cyberpsychology" as it relates to Internet-mediated experience as we are immersed in a new era of human information processing, with ubiquitous information, communication, and social networking tools.
Certainly the range of human cognition, emotion, and behavior has not magically transformed with the dawning of a new Millennium. However, technology and communication touch each of us--or we wouldn't be here now reading these words!
This site will offer discussion, resources, and references to help psychologists, students, and the curious, in understanding the interactions of (wo)man and environment, and how mental health is both affected by, and addressed by, the Internet. There will also be features on the basic life experiences which shape human psychology, which transcend time and place, and which are basic aspects of human nature. Welcome to the 21st Century! For those who enjoy forums, a Cyberpsychology-focused forum is now up and accessible (upper right of the page) and is hardly ever used. Are you a forum-lover? Feel free!! Post something about you or cyberpsychology, or your area of interest in the topic.
CYBERPSYCHOLOGY.COM Cyberpsychology.com was founded to serve as a clearinghouse for Cyberpsychology-related information, news, articles, and discussion. Look for new features and content "here", organized specifically around all things cyberpsychology related. There is also a Yahoogroups e-list companion
to this site, conveniently called "Cyberpsychology".
"Asynchronously Live" from Washington DC - Reports from the 119th APA Convention
"This is the Decade of the Information Revolution. At the beginning of the decade 4% of the public were connected to computers on a fast basis. [Now] it's 65%, 72% Total.
The Internet is all-encompassing. Most people use the Internet. It's led to search. It's led to social networks that shape ... the way people lead their lives that were unimagineable 10 years ago."
-- Andrew Kohut, Pew Research Group, on PBS (12/31/2009)
"In August for the first time ever Americans spent more time Facebook than on Google, and they spent 41 million minutes on Facebook in August. I am worried."
-- Katty Kay, BBC (on NBC, Chris Matthews Show, 9/12/2010)
"We learn that one in every 13 people on Earth is now signed up to Facebook, that 48 percent of young Americans said that they find out about news on the network, and also 2,700,000 photos are uploaded onto the site every 20 minutes."
=> For some powerful web metrics which describe 'generational waves' & our media/communication preferences, see the report on Larry Rosen's August 2011 APA presentation, Poke Me.
Relevant Articles from Current Topics in Psychology:
Online Psychological and Mental Health Interventions An asynchronously live report from the 118th APA Convention (2010), on the growing body of evidence regarding online interventions ranging from self-guided tools (ranging from CBT programs through "positive psychology" programs) to open or professionally moderated forums and support groups. (Fenichel)
Ru red e 4 ths? The Practice of Psychology in the Digital Age An asynchronously live report from the 118th APA Convention (2010), offering an overview of ethical considerations such as boundaries and dual relationships, along with some observations about the ubiquity of social media and other daily life experiences impacting both psychotherapists and their clientele. (Fenichel)
Virtual Psychology and Therapy An asynchronously live report from the 117th APA Convention (2009), on the development of effective virtual reality (VR) applications for use by psychologists and other mental health
professionals in both clinical and military settings. (Fenichel)
Internet: Pathway for Networking, Connecting, and Addiction Dr. Kimberly Young chairs a panel which includes her own study of effective treatments for Internet-related disorders, and presentations on
some diverse aspects of the Internet's potential: "digital altruism", social networking, and "the other's face on Facebook". (Fenichel)
The Latest FAD? Facebook Addiction Disorder Partly in jest, as so many online behaviors are said to be disorders and/or addictions - but whatever you call it, there are combinations of addictive, time-sponging activities which are taking up more and more time among people we know and love. (Fenichel)
Myths and Realities of Online Clinical Work Observations on the phenomena of online behavior, experience and therapeutic relationships. A 3rd-Year Report from ISMHO's Clinical Case Study Group
(Fenichel,Suler,Barak, Zelvin, Jones, Munro, Meunier, &Walker-Schmucker)
Here and Now in Cyberspace
Some thoughts about the nature of the here & now online, and the implications for both social and therapeutic interpersonal communication. (Fenichel) Click Here for full article.
Mainstream Media: Cyberpsychology Research & Cybersocial Trends
A new study from Stanford University suggests that the constant idealizing and positive spin we put "out there" on FB may contrast painfully with
our real-life daily experience away from the comfortable world of FB. There is a lot here which might be discussed on a number of sociological and psychological levels. Freud might
have called the undue "cathexis" (mental energy allocation) directed towards devices and self-entertainment "denial" or "displacement", while one's online wall offers the perfect place for projection, fantasy, and distortion. Others might address narcissism, or the role of attention and focus, or peer/social pressure. A lot to consider!
A discussion with the author of "Alone Together", who recognizes the potential for individual empowerment which the Internet offers, while highlighting too the way in which one may be seduced by, and fixated on, the devices rather than the RL situation at hand: "I go to a funeral and people are texting, hiding their phones under the order of service". Exactly. Why text or pull out a device now? Where are we now when we refer to being "in the moment" or in the Here and Now?
Getting a lot of publicity upon its release, this report from a Pediatric journal seems to suggest yet another new diagnosis: Facebook Depression. The "good news" is that the treatment "prescription" is increased family face-to-face time. The "bad news" is that Facebook dependency is a growing issue for parents and professional care-givers as well. Still true: Parents need to be available, and parent!
[Full Report: Clinical Report: The Impact of Social Media on
Children, Adolescents, and Families ]
Here is a reasoned, if somewhat skeptical, response to concerns over the "epidemic" of "Internet Addiction". While noting some valid research and practice findings, and providing some illustrative links, the point is made that causality is never proven by correlation. (Might it be that those with short attention spans are drawn to multi-tasking rather than multi-tasking leading to diminished attention span? Could it be that addictive personalities are simply drawn to FB and game apps and Twitter, rather than the sites being designed to be addictive?)
An annotated report on the Pew Research Center's in-depth study of "the ways that people navigate the digital news environment -- the behavior of what might be called the new news consumer." While the focus here is on
online consumption of "quot;the new news", clearly this also has implications for understanding how people approach and navigate the Internet in general, be it through circles of friends, social networks like Facebook, Twitter, favorite news/music/video portals, random Googling, or some combination.
Here is a look at one of the little-addressed phenomena which play a role in most students' lives: Wikipedia. In the U.S. teachers and librarians caution
against relying upon moveable and variable, unverifiable, often uncited, etc. information -- certainly as a primary source. In much of Europe there is a growing love afair with Wikipedia, and it has advocates as well. "It's a tool." Here's a brief look at Wikipedia, via the New York Times Technology page.
This scary-sounding story comes from Time's Facebook Blog at 2011's end. The story follows a Guardian story involving not the usual (student-teacher or doctor-patient or lawyer-client) relationships and their online boundaries. Moral? (Internet is powerful)
A pediatrician's perspective which describes social media as a "new environment in which kids are sorting through the process of becoming autonomous adults — the same things that have been going on since the earth cooled."
A report on research by a 'branding agency' reveals some demographics about the well-educated Generation Y: Entrepreneurs, Job-Hoppers, and personal life among Millennials. And their employers - including their largest employer, the military. 75% of the workforce by 2025......
"Wait a Second. No, that's too long." The Times is onto something here! From Google engineering to lifestyle and marketing, products and networks compete for our ever-diminishing attention. Cognitive research suggests that our cognitive life and limits are important to understand. While great attention is devoted to the social and marketing potential - good and bad- what are we doing to our thinking?
Creating some buzz and collegial discussion, a study highlights the link between 'narcissism' - in this case time spent at the Internet mirror, preening one's image, counting friends, & self promoting - and social impact among networked 'friends'. How is 'self-absorption' responded to, socially, online?
The first decade of the 21st century, into the 2010's, has seen the pervasive influence of social media, 'social commerce', professional networking, & American adoption of SMS (now embraced worldwide as "Twitter") and the landscape of popular print and broadcast media re-shaped with "like", "share", and FB/Twitter/RSS feed options seemingly everywhere. (You can broadcast exactly where via numerous 'apps' - my own nominee for 'word of the year'.)
For many today, daily life may include Foursquare check-ins at the airport or local donut shoppe, iPads, netbooks, and great amounts of time and energy invested in "device devotion", and sometimes dependency. All this new world of options and tools and popular trends comes without a standard guide on how to traverse this new world in a way which might be balanced rather than disruptive, helpful rather than harmful, efficient rather than creating fragmented and ever-shortening attention span and mono-task focus.
Cyberpsychology: Psychologists have been studying and using the Internet for several years now, and have been sharing their findings on the use of online technology in areas of self-help, education, and even direct treatment, such as telehealth, "e-therapy", support groups, and list-serv discussion groups.
Augmented and Virtual Reality:
One of the most promising and fast-moving aspects of 'cyberpsychology' is seen in the use of virtual reality (VR) to help with treatments proven to work with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), phobias, and other psychological/psychiatric disabilities, as well as areas such as pain management ...
You can see some of the positive uses in health and mental health in this article about technology and psychological treatments a decade into 21st Century. You can also learn about the spectrum of reality, from real to augmented to virtual. This extends from pediatric pain management on burn units to playing in virtual or augmented worlds online to distance supervision and even ABA protol implementation.
With or without immersive virtual reality, avatars have been around forever, or as long as humans existed to symbolize life in artistic rendering. (Right?)
Here are some of the variety of applications (in both the software and RL/experiential sense) which make use of Avatars in Psychological Treatment.
Gesture Technology: A New Wave
The implementation of this is already being seen in both gaming and iPad technology, as well as virtual reality applications. A merging of human movement and intent with computerized applications made to be one with human users. Check out the "wearable gestural interface", Sixth Sense, and the real-time campus Mood Meter from the MIT Media Lab.
Online Therapy: One of the most controversial topics, and an emerging area of training and discussion. Click Here to read a report from ISMHO's Millennium Group, describing the types of work being conducted online by a group of 16 mental health practitioners.
Asynchronously Live from Y2K: Some classic presentations relevant to online mental health, cyberpsychology, etc. - from the 2000 APA Convention, a report from a symposium with some of our leading experts on cyberpsychology, online communication, addictive Internet behavior, and "eTherapy", discussing the theory and practice of mental health online. (Click Here)
The American Psychological Association is a monolith of practitioners, academicians, and researchers. Their site offers an extensive collection of articles and reports on research across the spectrum of psychology, including new developments & applications.
A major force shaping lifestyles and sparking "People Power" in movements and causes worldwide, a wonderful (statistical) overview
of the rise and use of Facebook can be found in Alex Trimpe's engaging video:
The World is Obsessed with Facebook
This phenomenon, of people literally connected 24/7 to the beloved devices, is what I kindly refer to by this name (as opposed to 'phone addiction') because what is SMART about these 'phone' devices is how they have come to be an appendage, or external brain, without which many people are able to function, and which they cannot be without for long, before anxiety, withdrawal, etc. become intense. Seen any?