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 Century practice.
CYBERPSYCHOLOGY The Intersection of Technology and Human Experience
Life in the 21st Century increasingly involves 'multi-tasking' while making use of our digital tools, social and professional networks, mobile technology, wi-fi, and an "app" or product for almost everything one might crave, on-demand. Our screens have shrunken and our concepts of 'identity', 'friend', 'like' and 'connected' re-defined. Our lives, on either side of the Digital Native Divide, have become shaped and influenced by the ease and constancy of data sharing, by social marketing, by technology tools, and by shared expectations and social norms, increasingly centering around our devotion to devices . Freud might have viewed this 'fixation on objects' as an example of cathexis or displacement. :-)
The dazzling shift in the ways most people now divide attention/focus and approach tasks - with greater or lesser success at multi-tasking productively - 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.
Now is a time when brain science research is producing important findings at a structural level, linguistic level, cognitive and social levels. Today we see user-experience becoming a renewed interest in the fields of behavioral and social sciences as well as in the development and marketing of increasingly wearable and ubiquitous 'devices'. Psychology is beginning a second century amid empirical and clinical exploration into the essential elements of human experience across time and situation. Life - i.e., our behavior, our thinking (focusing, reasoning, employing working and long-terms memory), and our feelings (in varying order) - goes on. Seamlessly the young adapt to the gadgets which in turn adapt to them, as social psychology, sociology, and cyberpsychology researchers explore the challenges, benefits and complexities of daily life today. Foci range from violence to machine learning, gesture technology, 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. An app for that?
CYBERPSYCHOLOGY.COM Cyberpsychology.com was founded to serve as a clearinghouse for Cyberpsychology-related information, news, articles, and discussion.
"Asynchronously Live" from Orlando - Reports from the 120th APA Convention (2012)
"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."
-- France24, 2/26/2011
- 78% of teens now have a cell phone, and almost half (47%) of them own smartphones.
- One in four teens (23%) have a tablet computer, a level comparable to the general adult population.
- 95% of teens use the internet.
- 93% of teens have a computer or have access to one at home.
- Seven in ten (71%) teens with home computer access say the laptop or desktop they use most often is one they share with other family members.
"The nature of teens' internet use has transformed dramatically - from stationary connections tied to shared desktops in the home to always-on connections that move with them throughout the day."
-- Mary Madden, Senior Researcher for the Pew Research Center's Internet Project (3/13/13)
- "Teens are exhibiting changes in shopping behaviors that will likely reshape the way brands target this demographic..."
- "Teens have cited 'friends' as the strongest influence over their purchase decisions for the duration of our survey history, but 'Internet' is quickly rising in profile."
- Twitter and Instagram are important to teens, with Facebook "the most important..." But the popularity of Facebook is waning among teens with 33% citing it as the most important down from 42% six months ago."
- "Mobility and connectedness are driving nearly 91% of teens to purchase a smartphone for their next wireless device, with approximately 60% biased towards Apple and 21% likely to buy an Android device, consistent with our prior survey cycle."
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
The Anti-Social Network: Is Facebook Making Us Sad? (Slate, 26 Jan 2011)
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!
Author, author: Sherry Turkle (The Guardian, UK, 29 Jan 2011)
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?
Internet Addiction: A Public Health Crisis?
(Michael Friedman,LMSW, HuffPost Health, 22 April 2011)
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?)
Navigating News Online: Where People Go, How They Got There and What Lures Them Away
(Journalism.org, Pew Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, 9 May 2011)
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.
Worthy Online Resource, but Global Cultural Treasure?
(New York Times, 22 May 2011)
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.
Facebook Can Get You Fired, Ruin Your Marriage (Maybe)
(TIMETechland, 30 December 2011)
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 - and publicly sharable.)
What Will 2012 Mean for Social Media?
Another (2011) year's end perspective from Time Magazine's Techland, a bit more up-beat while referencing the topic of social unrest along with corporate and media trends.
Seeing Social Media More as Portal Than as Pitfall (NY Times, 9 January 2012)
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."
Where the Facebook Generation works, according to Facebook (Chicago Tribune, 12 January 2012)
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......
For Impatient Web Users, an Eye Blink Is Just Too Long to Wait (New York Times, 29 February 2012)
"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?
Social Media's Small, Positive Role in Human Relationships
(Atlantic Monthly, 25 April 2012)
A thoughtful perspective on the implications of life today, drawing upon psychology and sociology, the research on 'loneliness', online therapy, 'talking to bots', and the finding of Turkle and others regarding aspects of alienation or depersonalization. With links to some of the source material.
Google Glass and the Future of Technology
(New York Times, 13 September 2012)
Resident tech geek Pogue (NY Times writer/PBS Nova: Science Now host) looks at Google's 'smart approach' with 'Google Glass' - a "wearable gadget .... [with the] potential no other machine has ever had before." Includes links to demos.
Facebook Made Me Do It (The NY Times, 15 June 2013)
... and like it, too! Whether it's the power of the device or the social influence of peers and marketers, there is little doubt about the pervasive impact Facebook has had on lifestyles. Not only does Facebook make us do things, but it loves how we 'like' and suggest things for our 'friends' to buy. Next up, maybe? Facebook made me like it, share it, friend it....
Our Daily Cup of Facebook
(NY Times Bits, 13 Aug 2013)
Facebook and devices join the morning cup of coffee as an ingrained 'habit' of daily life. A brief snapshot from a demographic and marketing perspective.
Welcome to Internet Rehab (Huff Post, 25 Sept 2013)
Getting a great deal of press (Fall 2013), here's one of the better articles on the new 10-day inpatient treatment program ('rehab') for IAD - 16 beds, full medical staff, and a pricetag of $14,000 USD, not paid for (before or after ACA) by insurance. Serious treatment combining some now-familiar components of 'detox' support and cognitive-behavioral therapy. This program is at the Bradford Regional Medical Center in Pennsylvania, launched by Dr. Kimberly Young, a pioneer in the identification, treatment, and study of 'Internet Addiction'. This is the first inpatient program of its kind.
[An historical note: to be fair, Dr. Merissa Orzack launched the first hospital-based treatment program for 'computer addiction' in 1999, although it was on an outpatient basis.]
Scientists Used Facebook For the Largest Ever Study Of Language And Personality (Business Insider, 2 Oct 2013)
The article sounds a bit like Rorschach inkblot test meets 'positive psychology', or, as the article puts it, filtering all our 'shared' words through an 'open-vocabulary approach' so in the end we can acquire new vistas of understanding as "big data meets psychology". The headline declares the results 'groundbreaking' and - among the Facebook-connected world, which is virtually everyone - proclaims how word-use analysis can "provide an unprecedented window into the psychological world of people with a given trait.". Great for marketers and whom else? Facebook psychometricians? Social psychologists? Pollsters?
The Neuroscience of Facebook: It Makes Our Brains Happy (Salon.com, 5 Oct 2013)
This article takes a perspective emphasizing that our brains are inherently 'wired for social'. With a bit of neuroscience to suggest how connection - via Facebook, of course - is making the collective brains of the planet 'happy'. [Can brains feel happiness without an owner?]
Doctors' Rx: Make a Plan to Manage Kids' Media Use (USA Today, 28 Oct 2013)
A report on the new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics which proposes family 'media plans', given how "exposure to TV, smartphones, computers, tablets, and all forms of social media play a dominant role in the lives of American kids and teens..." - and adults too! Includes several resources including a link to healthychildren.org where one can learn How to Make a Family Media Use Plan.
Zero to Eight: Children's Media Use in America (CommonSenseMedia.org, 28 Oct 2013)
A report on the "results of a large-scale, nationally representative survey, the second in Common Sense Media's series on children's media use", examining the two-year trend lines in digital media use.
A pause to pay tribute to one of the true pioneers of cyberpsychology, who we have recently lost (2 Nov 2013). Below is a sample of pure Clifford Nass, at a recent Ted-X event. Amazing, prescient, and engaging. On managing multi-tasking (or not), and screening out (or in) distraction and what seems like man-made ADD. Here's a true pioneer in the area of human/computer interaction, with a look at 'habits of the mind' - as it interacts with digital technology.
"Emotional Intelligence = Attention"
Clifford Nass was one of the few truly focused researchers on focus itself, 'mindfulness' if you like. He studied human ability to focus, and be attentive to a processing task while receiving 3 simultaneous data streams, such as the typical 24/7 experience for many people. According to Stanford University, Nass and 2 fellow researchers found that "people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory, or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time." Psychometricians and teachers see this every day. When they're not too busy multi-tasking, of course.
If You Love Immersion You'll Love this Reality (New York Times, 2 Apr 2014)
A report on the state of Immersive Virtual Reality (VR) and its positioning as both a professional tool and consumer entertainment system. Includes an overview of the state of research and marketing implications (such as Facebook's purchase of Oculus) as well as an introduction to the state of the art at Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab.
Cyborg glasses save users the need to control emotions (BBC, 16 April 2014)
Described as both the basis of an 'emotional cyborg' and as a means to help read or display context-appropriate expressions. If our eyes are the mirror to our souls, this may be a solution for some, or create 'a hole in the soul' by presenting false emotions which a device deems 'proper'. One new step towards artificial emotional intelligence?
Positive & Negative - 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, Pinterest, or YouTube! Is it 'all good' all the time, or are we embracing lifestyles with just TMI (too much information) or too many tasks for the mere human brain? What is a good balance? Technology: Do we own it, or does it own us?
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!
Across the first decade of the 21st century we clearly felt and witnessed the pervasive influence of social media, 'social commerce', professional networking, & American adoption of SMS (now embraced 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 daily life may include Foursquare check-ins at the airport or local donut shoppe, iPads, netbooks, texting (&/or 'tweeting'), sharing photos, music and 'likes' with Facebook and friends, and generally devptomg massive amounts of time and energy into a daily routine of 24/7 "device devotion" - and sometimes dependency. Not to mention permanent attachment to, and focus on, every bit of data streaming in via our beloved devices. Some cite the powerful addictive quality of online everything-on-demand, as others note the power to keep us 'connected' due to
Or FOMO - Fear of Missing Out.
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. (Some research such as Turkle's suggest that 'multi-tasking' and focus compete for our attention.)
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.
Aside from processing our data, running our apps, and parsing our preferences, artificial intelligence seeks to emulate human decision-making. One of the things distinguishing humans is learning from experience, sometimes requiring judgment as well as probability calculation. Today we do have 'Brainlike Computers, Learning From Experience'
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 protocol 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" from Sixth Sense, the Glasses-Free 3D project at the MIT Media Lab, and the latest in 3D Gesture Technology from Leap Motion.
Here is an area with direct lineage to the early use of the term 'cyber', the converging of technological and human tools, or Cybernetics ["the scientific study of control and communication in the animal and the machine."]
Here is an example of both that combination of the human and the machine, and a healthy dose of AI/VR evolution here as well: A PBS Documentary on a medical application, one of many coming on line in hospital and educational settings, addressing and assisting those with special needs.:
A tech writer notes the stream of new wearable technology (particularly the wrist device), but sees deployment in daily life as still a ways off, describing most new wearable gadgets as More Beta than Chic (NY Times, 1/2014)
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)
Organized Psychology: 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