Read The Cyber Effect: A Pioneering Cyberpsychologist Explains How Human Behavior Changes Online by Mary Aiken Online


Dr Mary Aiken is the world's leading expert in forensic cyberpsychology - a discipline that combines psychology, criminology and technology to investigate the intersection between technology and human behaviour. In this, her first book, Aiken has created a starting point for all future conversations about how the Internet is shaping our perception of the world, developmentDr Mary Aiken is the world's leading expert in forensic cyberpsychology - a discipline that combines psychology, criminology and technology to investigate the intersection between technology and human behaviour. In this, her first book, Aiken has created a starting point for all future conversations about how the Internet is shaping our perception of the world, development and behaviour, societal norms and values, children, safety and security.Covering everything from the impact of screens on the developing child to the explosion of teen sexting, and the acceleration of compulsive and addictive online behaviours (gaming, shopping, pornography), The Cyber Effect also examines the escalation in cyberchondria (self-diagnosis online), cyberstalking and organized crime in the Deep Web. Cyberspace is an environment full of surveillance, but who is looking out for us? Full of surprising statistics and incredible-but-true case studies of the hidden trends that are shaping our culture, this book raises troubling questions about where the digital revolution is taking us.Upending your assumptions about your online life and forever changing the way you think about the technology that you, your friends and your family use, The Cyber Effect offers a fascinating and chilling look at a future we can still do something about....

Title : The Cyber Effect: A Pioneering Cyberpsychologist Explains How Human Behavior Changes Online
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781473610231
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 400 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Cyber Effect: A Pioneering Cyberpsychologist Explains How Human Behavior Changes Online Reviews

  • Brian Clegg
    2019-01-22 14:28

    This is a weird one - it's a book with huge flaws, yet I'm giving it five stars because the content is really important. It's generally considered that the big change in environment moving from forest to savannah had a huge impact on the development of early humans. Similarly the industrial revolution changed lives immensely. Mary Aiken's book describes the way that a much more recent change in environment could have an equally huge effect.The book is about the impact of the internet and ever-present e-devices on human behaviour. This is not one of those 'screens fry your brains' books we've seen before - it's about the way that living in this very different environment is changing the way we interact with each other and behave generally. And some of it is downright scary. Aiken describes a scene on a train where she watches a mother feeding a baby. Rather than giving the baby eye contact and interaction during the process, the mother is looking at her phone. Contact and interaction is absolutely fundamental in early child development, yet Aiken shows how time and again - from parents' own obsession with screens, to plonking infants in front of TV and tablets - we are taking away this hugely important environmental contribution.Similarly, in chapter after chapter (it's quite repetitious), Aiken shows how we are living more and more of our lives in the cyber-environment, where we feel safer than in the physical world, so counterintuitively we put ourselves at risk more. Whether we're talking constantly checking phones and Googling - Aiken points out that searching is a natural human tendency, essential for a hunter-gatherer, and a lot of our obsession could be tied into the build-in rewards we get from a successful search - spending many hours on immersive computer games (to the extent some users have died), cyberbullying, the darknet or other risks to our behavioural norms, there's a lot to take in. Aiken is not saying 'go and live in the woods and never touch tech'. She accepts the benefits - but argues we need to be more aware of the risks and to act accordingly, particularly when it comes to protecting children and teenagers.So that's the good part. There are, however, three issues with the book. One, which may be the fault of the publisher, is that it is presented in a very show-off fashion - Aiken mentions narcissism as an issue for teen users of the internet, and yet seems unaware of the way it threads through the book from the use of 'Dr' on her name, through the subtitle identifying her as a 'pioneering cyberpsychologist', through a totally irrelevant story about her going on a police raid to repeatedly bringing herself into the picture. Although glaringly obvious, that's a relatively minor issue. A bigger worry (although it's fascinating in itself as an exposé of some aspects of psychology) is the unscientific nature of some of her arguments. She is positive about Freud, despite a total lack of scientific basis for his theories. She worries about radiation from tablets. She emphasises correlation is not causality, but then follows it up with 'no smoke without fire' responses, totally undoing the scientific bit. And one sees time and again the way psychological theories and definitions of mental conditions are made up by experts and then clung to, rather than being derived from good, evidence-based science. When she strays outside psychology, the facts can suffer a little too. She calls Tim Berners-Lee the 'father of the Internet' confusing the internet and the web, and calls Stephen Hawking 'the worlds foremost physicist,' something that would have most physicists rolling in the aisles.Finally, though the book is very strong on the problems of our cyber-culture, it's all rainbows and unicorns when it comes to offering a solution. In a vague final chapter, Aiken suggests that the UN can sort it out, China might have a good idea in censoring web content and we'd be okay if there was a web-in-a-web where children were safe (despite all her previous arguments that children are going to outsmart parents' attempts to control their use). She suggests rightly that those who make lots of money from the internet, and are great at technology, should be devising solutions - but doesn't describe any incentive system for making this work. And then, finally, she seems to suggest that what we really need to do is live in the Irish countryside like she does and go for a walk.As you might gather, I had real problems with a lot of this book. But I feel that the central information and observation of our changes in behaviour as a result of the internet and e-devices is so powerful, that the rest can be forgiven.

  • Laura
    2019-01-08 13:15

    2.5 starsI feel like a better title for this book might have been 'Cyberpsychology for dummies who also want to be frightened out of their wits'. It's an overview of the drastic effects that the internet and technology are having on human brains and societies; however, it was very unbalanced. The author even says at the beginning that she just wanted to highlight the negative impacts of the internet, since there was already lots of information out there on the positive impacts. The result is a book which selectively highlights dangers in a way that sometimes borders on fearmongering. Aiken covers areas as diverse as the effect of screens on the developing brains of children, the impact of freely available pornography on sexual appetites, the seedy (and genuinely scary) 'dark web', and the rise of cyber bullying. She has extensive experience as an academic in the field, and I was expecting a rigourous approach to the topic. Unfortunately, I didn't find her arguments particularly compelling and didn't feel like I learned much. The book reminded me of the kinds of conversations that have been happening in pubs and living rooms all over the world in recent years - 'Smart phones are giving people ADHD!', 'Porn is giving young men a skewed idea of sex!', 'A mother was so addicted to a game that she neglected to look after he real-life baby!'. In many cases, I didn't think that this book went any deeper than those kinds of conversations, with the added difference that it was very one-sided (after all, most of these conversations would usually include one person who's willing to point out the positive aspects of the internet).The tone is accessible and conversational but at times I think the author 'mis-speaks', making casual asides which fall a bit flat. For example, when defining frotteurism "...a disorder in which a person derives sexual pleasure or gratification by rubbing himself or his genitalia against another person - usually in a crowd (a good reason to avoid overly crowded subway cars at rush hour)" [emphasis my own]. OK, I know it was a throwaway comment and probably wasn't meant to sound so victim-blamey, but it did make my eyebrows shoot up. I for one won't be late to work every day because I'm worried someone's going to rub their crotch on me. Mostly, I found that the arguments in this book were based more on subjective opinion than on rigorous evidence and logic. For example, it sounded as if she was arguing that BDSM sites which matched dominant and submissive partners were a bad thing because a young woman in Ireland was killed by someone she met on the app... I feel like if you're going to make a compelling case against something like that then you need a bit more than anecdotal evidence. It's a shame because I actually think I agree with Aiken's main hypothesis, which is that we need to stop thinking of the internet as a lawless final frontier in which governments shouldn't meddle and it's every person for themselves. The internet plays a huge role in our everyday lives and it's important that it's safe. There are ways of reducing internet bullying, making women and minorities feel safe, reducing illicit activity and protecting children, and these things need to happen. These are valid points but I don't think Aiken argues them convincingly, or at least not in a way which would convince someone who didn't feel that way in the first place. Instead, I think this book will frighten some people and infuriate others, which is a shame.With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley who provided me with a free ARC in return for an honest review

  • David
    2019-01-03 11:25

    Aiken starts off by promising to keep the science light, and then adds a book with only the barest possible nods to any evidence or investigation at all. Light isn't the word.I got this for research, and I don't think I found anything in it that added to my knowledge at all.Lots of (very) tired examples that have been in the psychology public domain for generations. Lots of anecdotal stories presenting the worst possible scenario as somehow demonstrating what's likely to happen.Worse still, for a book about psychology, lots of subjective judgement statements about how "bad", "unfortunate" or "difficult" something is. I don't need a writer telling me that an anecdote about online child abuse is troubling. I can work that out for myself.Early in the book, Aiken talks about S&M, and mentions reading fifty shades. I gave up on that book because it was so badly written. She gave up on it because she found it too disturbing.Seriously? If her threshold is so low, is she in the right job?Random example 1: A case study about children who were influenced to commit murder by movies are held up as evidence that computer games can lead to violence. Random example 2: a suggestion that we might be breading a nation of mentally deficient babies because mums use their phones whilst feeding them, rather than making eye contact with their babies. Because before the internet, mums never used to watch TV or read books or anything.In summary - plenty of shrill scaremongering and hand wringing. Plenty of out-of-context (and tired) anecdotes inviting us to be shocked, and warning that things are going to get worse - probably. Possibly. Quite a useful resource if you're the sort of person who gets most of your science from Daily Mail or Daily Express headlines, but if you want a reasoned and analytical review of measurable behaviour changes since internet 2.0, you'll need to look somewhere else.

  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    2018-12-26 13:20

    “There are risks that reward us and risks that ruin us.”I found myself thinking about Cyberspace as a world unto itself. Rich with information and communication, more and more impossible to avoid we step into it as through a doorway, or a rabbit hole. I admit, the depravity is disturbing and this book had me thinking about things I never even imagined about the internet. It is another world, it isn’t crazy to think of it as an alternate universe, because it is. The addictions, the abuse, the hackers, criminals- sometimes being in cyberspace is a disappearing act. As with all things, there is good and bad but the balance may be off here. Lack of inhibition, pushing further than you would have otherwise gone in exploration of the forbidden is shocking! As adults, we think we’re safe but the issue is, are we safe from ourselves? When Mary Aiken brings children in cyberspace into the conversation, it changes everything you thought you knew.This isn’t a book trying to scare you out of cyberspace, because as times change we are growing far more dependent on it, even for simple things such bill paying, education, you name it. We certainly are far more connected than ever, and that isn’t all negative. Never before could we instantly communicate with loved ones so far away or travel with the tap of a finger to the far corners of the world. News can ‘inform us’ but who better to tell it then the people there, experiencing and showing the truth through our devices? We’ve broadened our horizons, we’re learning to open our eyes to the rest of the world, to people different from us. There is nothing we can’t look up or search for, no question too big to find answers too. It’s not all predators, it’s not all sorcery and madness- but there are limits we should be setting, questions we need to be asking. There are dark things lying in wait too, some corners better left locked behind cells. We are manipulated in cyberspace just as we are in the walking day. It’s far more lawless than the solid world. I took more horror away with the effect it is having on children. Heartbreaking is the need for attention children are going without as so many parents have their noses buried in screens. Far more horrifying is the child predators and human trafficking. This is a must read for everyone, because even if you somehow are off the grid, off the internet- the rest of us are floating in the cyber-world.Very provocative, and I think there will be a lot of conversation about the issues brought forth. I am appalled there were so many things I hadn’t even considered, because some are obvious. Any world where monsters can roam free isn’t safe for any of us, it is a utopia for the corrupt, and as cyberspace continues to expand, we need safety measures. But how?Random House Publishing Group- Random HouseSpiegel and GrauPublication Date: August 23 2016 visit my blog

  • Sarah Galvin
    2019-01-15 16:16

    Incredibly moralistic, and a lot of off the cuff assumptions since there are no longitudinal studies. Also, most instances the writer uses are very well known. I dont feel like I really learned anything new from this book.

  • Clare O'Beara
    2018-12-24 10:29

    This is a nicely written book which can be easier to read than you might expect. A psychologist looks at human behaviour in a variety of ways but puts cyber in front of them. So cyber bullying, stalking, porn addiction, prurience, rule breaking, crime, drug peddling, self diagnosis, Munchausen, Munchausen by proxy. Not all bad. Some include learning, art, creativity and sharing as well as plain communicating. I particularly like when this lady, who lives in Ireland, gives her own observations. She sat opposite a mother giving a baby a bottle on the train and noticed that during the 15 minutes or so, the baby kept looking up at the mother but the mother never took her eyes off her phone screen. She speculates that lack of social contact and connection will make kids raised on tablets a different kind of person. Reference the 1930s experiment with the wire monkey and cloth monkey mother replacements. The author also says that women are expected to use the internet although it is largely designed and programmed by men, many of whom can't make eye contact. Then hacking; she told a room of Europol policemen plus a white hat hacker that hacking could come from risk taking or a desire to explore but her favourite theory was a desire to penetrate. The expert hacker said 'Respect!' and fist-bumped her. So... what about women hackers, not discussed? We are told that the author regularly assists Europol with understanding cyber crime and the criminal. For instance a late chapter deals with the deep web, much of which is just storage but which contains a corner known as the dark net. She discusses the ease of buying drugs when someone thinks they won't get caught and that it is not a really real transaction. The Silk Road illicit market and Pirate Bay torrent file sharing without paying copyrights are discussed. As is buying services like prostitution and murder. If it is happening elsewhere it is happening more easily here because there is no easy way for the law to police it. She explains that we would not walk into a bad area of town at night in case of being robbed, but do not always recognise a scam e-mail which steals from our credit cards. And a curious teen, out to explore, coming up against someone with criminal intent in an area not policed, will lead to crime. She suggests we need to start thinking more like hackers and be more aware of cyber gang behaviour in youth.Provided a look at mindsets and behaviours is what you want, not a technical book, this will be a good read. Teachers, parents, police and others will be interested. The end pages contain a glossary, list of footnotes and an index 17 pages long. I counted 69 names which I could be sure were female. This is an unbiased review.

  • C. Hollis Crossman
    2019-01-06 17:13

    As other reviewers have pointed out, there are some major flaws in this book. The biggest one in my opinion is that Dr. Mary Aiken doesn't seem altogether savvy about the technology of which she speaks—she often accepts pop-culture definitions or understandings uncritically. For instance, in the chapter on the Deep Web, her default language when speaking about hackers is negative, as though "hacking" is inherently criminal or immoral. (To her credit, she does acknowledge the benefit of thinking like a hacker, but this seems a bit like crumbs to the dogs.) She also refers to her work as the expert consultant for the TV drama CSI: Cyber, a show so fraught with cybersecurity-related faux pas and inaccuracies that one wonders how this is meant to bolster her resume.Despite all that, the issues Aiken raises in The Cyber Effect cannot be ignored. To put it in crass terms, her evaluation of human behavior online is essentially that people act drunk in the cyber environment—that inhibitions are lessened, extreme behaviors become more frequent and more pronounced, and any laws or rules that may happen to exist are blatantly disregarded. This has led to an Internet where crime is rampant, bad behavior is rather encouraged than curtailed, and the most vulnerable members of society are routinely subjected to cruel, risky, and otherwise dangerous content and activity. The Internet, in other words, is not safe for those who aren't capable of looking out for themselves, and therefore we need to think seriously about how to protect them without completely eradicating the freedom that the Internet enables.Children are Aiken's primary concern. Out of nine chapters, three are devoted exclusively to the online behavior of toddlers, young children, and teenagers respectively. Admirably, Aiken's position is not alarmist: she never says children should not be exposed to computers or other digital devices, or that video games are inherently evil, or that teenagers should never be exposed to challenging material. Instead, she argues for wisdom—since we don't know yet how the young are affected emotionally, psychologically, or developmentally by extensive online activity, and since the dangers of early exposure to adult pornography and other moral and social detriments are very real, let's err on the side of caution when it comes to our greatest future assets. Kids need supervision in the real world, she argues, and they require it just as much in the online environment.Other chapters examine the nature of sexuality online, digital addiction, online romance and dating, "cyberchondria," the Deep Web, and a final chapter on what can be done to ensure a brighter online future for ourselves and the world. Interestingly, Aiken eschews some of the more lurid examples in each chapter, opting rather to look at stories or trends that are disturbing but not completely on the fringes of the worst humanity has to offer. For instance, in the chapter on the Deep Web, she focuses on cybertheft, drug retail a la Silk Road, and criminal hacking; she doesn't talk much about human trafficking, extreme pornography, or snuff films. In the end, this approach makes her warnings much more plausible and worthy of attention—the examples aren't meant to titillate or shock anyone into being terrified by the very thought of going online.Aiken herself acknowledges that there is much more to be done in the field of cyberpsychology, and that her research is the mere tip of the iceberg. It doesn't feel like that's the case when reading her book: it's filled with study after study and example after example, which can make some passages seem a bit repetitive and tedious. For the most part, however, the book is fascinating enough to keep the reader moving forward at a quick pace. Regardless of interest, however, it's an important contribution to the growing body of literature asking us to think twice before we uncritically accept the many blessings of the Digital Age without first considering what risks might be inherent in them. For anyone with kids and an Internet connection, or for anyone interested in the ethics of online behavior, this is a valuable and important book.

  • Shana Yates
    2019-01-06 14:19

    Interesting but uneven book. On the pro side, the author clearly has spent a great deal of time and effort in her field, and has thought deeply about a number of issues. Her passion for her subject area is obvious and it gives the book a sincerity and vitality. Some sections are very interesting, especially discussions of how social interaction on the internet can act to normalize various behavior, the impact of digital life on sex, romance, pornography, and human relationships, and medical websites and interplay with whether we see ourselves as "well." The book is also very thought provoking as it explores how technology connects us in one sense, but leaves of alone in a very real, physical way.The author's true mission in life is protecting children from digital harm - whether that is protection from online predators or it is protection from the side effects of technology. As a result, at least a third of the book catalogs the state of research on these issues and can, if you do not share the interest as passionately (and especially if you are not a parent), drone on a bit too long. That said, she highlights some studies that appear to be definitive but which are mostly ignored - including that children under the age of 2 should spend as little time as possible (and none, ideally) in front of screens because it can and does negatively impact their mental development, can slow language acquisition, and does not help them develop in any way whatsoever (basically, Baby Einstein and any app or show aimed at the under-2 set is a lie). On the negative side and what made the book a bit annoying at times is that she comes across as overly idealistic. She makes sweeping statements about what should be done, but completely ignores whether or not those changes are feasible. She blithely discusses curating internet content in a way that ignores freedom of speech and proposes intricate and far reaching regulations for technology developers that seem at the very least legally tenuous. She also sometimes has flimsy evidence to back her claims. I give this somewhat of a pass because, as she rightly points out, controlled studies take years or decades to carry out (especially when you are studying developmental effects on children), and not only can we not afford to wait decades before making educated guesses and putting in place protections, but we also cannot do controlled studies on any technology that we believe is harmful (as you can't knowingly put child subjects in harm's way). That said, she sometimes takes this understandable paucity of hard facts as an invitation to opine without recourse to any evidence where there should be some. She also seems to cherry pick the opinions of others who support her without fully putting forth the opposing view, and she lost some real credibility when she referred to Stephen Hawking as the world's foremost physicist as an intro to his well-publicized (and not unfounded) warnings about technology as an existential threat.In short, the book is very interesting despite its shortcomings and worth the time.

  • Virginia Beam
    2019-01-05 15:28

    The Cyber Effect purports to be a scientific look at the interaction of technology and psychology--an examination of the way human behavior changes online. Ms. Aiken assures us in the introduction that she isn't anti-technology. Unfortunately, literally every chapter aside from the introduction is devoted to all the ways that technology could be harming humanity. Positives are glossed over; we get a few passing references to positives, but frustratingly, these aren't explored at all. Okay, so the marketing department should have been more upfront about the fact that this is a book about all the possible dangers of technology. It still could have been interesting, had it been done well--especially had it actually been done scientifically. But most of the chapters boiled down to “This case study says X, and that could mean Y and Z down the road. Do you really want to wait and find out the hard way?” Or, more often, "Once there was a girl named Laura, and she used the Internet to fuel her hypochondria. We can extrapolate from this case that the Internet is creating new mental disorders." Lots of speculation, lots of tired anecdotes that are far from normative (the Slender Man girls, really?), not a lot of science. If you make it all the way to the last chapter, where she reiterates that she’s not anti-technology (just in favor of unspecified technological reforms that will force breastfeeding moms to look at their babies instead of their phones and keep people from becoming addicted to World of Warcraft), she’ll probably lose you with this:“Fragmentation of the Internet, as China has done, does not have to be considered a negative; for some countries this may be the best way to preserve and maintain culture.”That's right--China may be manipulating and controlling its citizens by squelching any discussion that questions it, but hey, at least they got rid of the porn.(I received this book for free through a Goodreads giveaway.)

  • Emmy Gregory
    2018-12-25 11:20

    This is the shoddy level of science I expect from a tabloid, not a scientist. Holy shit - where to start? Well, Aiken starts with kink, which is all bad apparently. This is because life-wrecking and criminal versions of kinky behaviour appear in the DSM-V. Which means that anyone who is interested in any form of kink is mentally ill in some badly-defined way, and probably dangerous in some even more badly-defined way. My eyebrows were on the ceiling by this point. Someone met someone else on Fetlife and got murdered. Is one case the best she can do, or the best she feels she needs to do given that she's already made her mind up? Obviously kinky people are not like nice married vanilla couples - who do also murder each other pretty damn frequently, but that's different. Somehow.It's disappointing because there are valuable questions to ask about the ways in which online behaviour is different from offline. But the very first questions a psychologist needs to ask herself are: what are my biases? Where are my beliefs about the world, and how are they getting in the way of doing good scientific research? Followed by: Who examined this, what was their methodology, how sound are their results? Am I taking the existence of a disparate handful of vanishingly rare outliers - such as murderers or extremely abusive parents - to suggest that there is something wrong with commonplace behaviour which is harmless in almost everyone else?Otherwise you can end up with what is basically a few hundred pages of Daily Mail headlines. That's what this book is. It's not badly researched so much as not really researched at all. It's an opinion piece. It isn't a scientific book with flaws. It's not science at all; the fact that a good book in this subject area is needed makes this piss poor one's existence more, not less disappointing.

  • Atila Iamarino
    2019-01-18 17:30

    Uma boa leitura para saber as implicações morais e éticas do que a tecnologia tem mudado. Além do primeiro livro que ouvi a discutir bem o quão cedo introduzir tablets e afins para crianças – não tão cedo, bem pouco e dando muito mais atenção para a socialização, segundo ela. Tem uma boa coletânea sobre problemas atuais, de bullying, narcisismo, ansiedade e afins.O lado ruim é que achei o livro muito alarmista. Talvez pela autora pensar o tempo todo nos piores cenários, ela acaba pintando sempre uma imagem de que o pior está para acontecer. Ou sou eu que não consigo me preocupar com algo mais sério do que me parece. A parte sobre dark net dela é bem sensacionalista, focando só nos crimes e possibilidades para o mal – o The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld cobre isso bem melhor. Juntando tudo, uma boa leitura para pais e professores em especial. Para o público em geral, acho mais proveitoso e legal ouvir o podcast Note to Self, que recomendo bastante.

  • Jennifer
    2019-01-15 15:12

    I was terrible about writing reviews last year. TERRIBLE. I'm sorry. My hope is to keep better records in 2017.The first book that I finished had some interesting details, and particularly significant things to say about technology and child development. Ultimately, despite its length, the work felt slight, as though the author deliberately avoided overtaxing the reader. So it's a good starter book for those interested in the intersection between the online world and psychology, and raises some significant questions. But, like Mary Aiken, I hope there will be more research and thoughtful discussions of the subject, and soon.One item of note: In her discussion of the Uncanny Valley, Aiken notes that, like humans, other primates also have a visceral, negative reaction to computer-generated images of their species that are close, but not quite exact, copies of the real thing. I'm not sure what it means, but the implications are intriguing.

  • Tracey Ryan young
    2019-01-04 16:30

    Feels a bit like 'Granny says be wary'. I found it interesting but annoying, information and studies are presented before huge presumptive leaps are made: a baby/toddler who looks at screens becomes a drug addict in just four easy stages. I do recommend this book with warning to beware of the warnings.

  • Russell
    2018-12-26 11:14

    It's an important book for the content it discusses no doubt. Yet it would probably be of much utility to get a better perspective of said content if you read the comments on this Goodreads page; or wherever, really. The insight that she provides into how widespread use of the Internet and its enabling devices and its impact on children is illuminating to an extent (an acute observer very well may have been able to come to the same conclusions (I came to a good many of them myself prior to reading Aiken's book, and I don't have children. What about parents whose position of observation are in towers higher than mine?)) What I do find troublesome to sift through is the sensationalist conclusions she does arrive at. While it is true that Japan has ageing population and diminishing birth rate, to continue and attribute modern amenities as the primary cause to the fear towards getting into relationships and arrive at: "By 2060, if current trends continue, Japan's population will have shrunk by 30 percent."This clearly shows Aiken's moot claim in this context. It is not so much the subject matter in this instance that she has used inappropriately to prove a point, rather than it is her way of doing so; her process, if you can call it that. It quite clearly shows that while there is evidence present, there has been little analysis of external factors and even attempt at cultural understanding. Repeat this throughout and you can understand why I have my qualms with a book that does not examine existing evidence contrary to the initial claim. No matter how lucid and eloquent the argument she presents may be.I should also mention this is one of the few example where Aiken actually provides concrete evidence, examples and anecdotes to back up her findings. In many other instances where I won't bother listing, the conclusions reached are as wild as a Super Mario Bros. speed run, jumping and whizzing about. And for that, the 20/20 vision of retrospect I have upon finishing this book has made me wonder whether I have to go back and scrutinise it further to come to a more balanced perspective. While she has succeeded in bringing my attention to the necessary action we need to take towards our self-regulation of the use of technology, to fuel the call to action with arguments such as hers only takes us at the same breakneck speed of the rate technology is advancing - not exactly the least disastrous route. It's a reminder that psychologists do what they do; make generalised assumptions on human behaviour. Now, extrapolating it to the worst-case scenario while neglecting externalities such as the policy limitations at attempts at regulation, cultural preferences and leaving wide gaps in her argumentative process, does not succeed at convincing me entirely. A book to be taken with a pinch of salt. Perhaps Aiken knows that preying on people's fears sells well. P.S. Getting featured on the front page of Daily Mail is often not a good thing. P.P.S. To call Spike Jonze's "Her", "melodramatic" leaves me questioning whether I should, a) give this book two stars, and b) what characteristics a psychologist should have. I thought they were meant to be understanding.EDIT: 2 stars it is. I went through the final chapter again to review the suggestions she made on what to be done to mitigate harm mentioned in the book... not inspired or illuminated whatsoever.

  • Sherrie
    2019-01-10 15:10

    I expected this to be an interesting but technical slog however I was pleasantly surprised that it was not. It was very easy to read and graspable. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it gave me so much to consider. It’s incredibly important information to have, for anyone. I would highly recommend that anyone who has a child age 0-18, or works with kids in any capacity, should read at least the third of the book that pertains to children. It came up as a Goodreads Giveaway from an alert via my Goodreads Want to Read list, I entered and I won an AUP copy.

  • Rita Sophie
    2019-01-01 18:19

    It's amazing to see how great minds think alike. You don't have to be a famous cyber psychologist to have an idea on all the things Mary Aiken is talking about. Her merit is to put it all on a piece of paper for everyone to acknowledge it. We're living interesting times, and it will be fascinating to see how much of TERMINATOR or I AM ROBOT become living reality.

  • Barbara Michalski
    2018-12-28 16:18

    The Cyber Effect by Mary Aiken, PhD was an eye opening book. It challenges one's view of how one approaches time on the internet. It has become easy to casually spend time surfing the web, buying items or chatting online. Mary gives the reader another side to one's casual approach to show the reader the dangers that are lurking on the web. What stood out to me was the effect Facebook and other social media is having on developing teens today. She states that we do not know all the ways a teenager is affected, but there are some outcomes we are already seeing. I think one of her main points is that most of us are not sinister in our approach to internet use but we need to remember that there are many who are. Don't forget they are out there.

  • Toki
    2019-01-17 16:27

    "The internet is clearly, unmistakably, and emphatically an adult environment." (p. 159)...She actually uses the phrase "cyber-feral children." (p 160)Takeaway about kids and internet use:Kids take too many selfies. Selfies make kids narcissistic and heartless and potentially cause youngsters to "lose interest in others (or never develop it in the first place!") (p 171) Filtering selfies leads to sexually provocative clothing choices (p 178) and body dysmorphic disorder (p 182) and sexting (p 189) and sextortion/blackmailing (p 192), plus cyber pimps (p. 199) all of which contribute to a rise in self harm/suicide among teens! So, parents, if your kids use the internet, watch out for them to be heartless, narcissistic little slutty sluts or pimps who bully (or get bullied by) everyone they know (and STRANGERS!) and probably kill themselves. (Or others! Let's not forget that Slenderman can cause kids to kill!) They will probably get preyed upon by the very worst of the internet if they themselves don't fall victim to the deepest, darkest, most sordid corners of the web. But don't take computers away from them! Then you're depriving them of their ENTIRE SUPPORT SYSTEM! (p. 205)UGH. 2 whole chapters devoted to all the ways the internet can negatively impact your child with no focus on the positive aspects of internet usage. Aside from the chapters on kids and internet, the author seems to have a moral problem with sexual fetishes and took literally the most extreme case of a fetish (which resulted in a murder) and basically said, "SEE WHAT CAN HAPPEN WHEN YOU INTERNETS?!"She also said that you can "come across communities and practices that are new and interesting. Over time, as you are 'cyber-socialized' in this community, you can adopt the belief system of the group." (p 38)OH WOE! You mean, you could have your ideas challenged and maybe form a more well-rounded opinion on something you'd previously not understood? Like, say, LGBTQIA issues? Or understanding mental illnesses? Or, god forbid, fetish play between consenting adults? *gasp!* WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO?! If you are looking for new reasons to be afraid, eat this up. Otherwise, there are plenty of other books to roll your eyes at.

  • Allisonlcarter
    2019-01-17 12:31

    This is perhaps the only book I have ever reviewed without finishing. I was only able to make it through the first chapter. It reads like a "Reefer Madness" for the digital age. It feels like it was written in 2000, not 2016.Not sure who this book is written for, but it's definitely not for a digital native.

  • Tamara Evans
    2019-01-11 18:15

    This is a very informative book about how people lose their inhibitions when online. Aiken provides insight on how online environment has impact all ages of people from children to adults. Although it is an interesting read, at some points she uses scare tactics as a way to shake the reader into action. While I think that technology companies should create more safeguards to prevent children from being exposed to improper content, I also feel that parents should also be vigilant regarding their child's online experiences. Some of the more interesting facets of this book include the idea that due to smartphones and the internet, this has had a detrimental effect on how children are raised. Aiken comments that parents are so focused on their smartphones that they no longer make eye contact with their kids. By not making eye contact in the early stages of a child's life, this can lead to a lack of knowledge in how to establish relationships. A second interesting concept was presented in how the online environment has colored dating and also created avenues for those with illegal habits am easier way to find each other. While Aiken does provide good information and food for thought, readers may be turned away due to the amount of jargon used in the book and the fact that each chapter ends with a cautionary tale of someone harmed through online interactions.

  • Dave
    2019-01-15 14:18

    *I have received a copy of this book as part of a goodreads giveaway*“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two CitiesThe Cyber Effect is a welcome but broad overview of the consequences the rapid expansion of the internet and its accessibility has had for modern psychology, and by extension society.Although Dr. Mary Aiken often repeats her mantra that the technology itself is neither good nor bad, barring sections of the Cyber-Romance chapter, occasional proposed solutions and the call to arms in the concluding remarks, the majority of the book focuses on the negative effects. The bias is perhaps understandable as Aiken has advised several investigative bodies on cybercrime, has clearly seen some horrific things and is very good on potential remedies. The sections are illuminating, well-written and easy to comprehend, but I wished it had been balanced a little more by the positive attributes like community, charity and crowdfunding. Though I suppose these have been espoused enough elsewhere, the book does create the impression that we are living in the worst of times when, as Dickens says above, it always appears to be both the best and worst of times and a period of great change. As a consequence of this, Aiken seems certain that the invention of the internet has changed everything and is an unprecedented social experiment. This is evidenced by the Aiken’s tendency to adapt words to include prefixes like 'cyber' or 'techno'. Obviously her subject is ‘cyber’, but personally I think this is overplayed as I do not think there is much new under the sun. It is the prevalence of the medium that has exacerbated certain psychological traits that have always existed. What is unprecedented is the scale rather than the psychology, which, as many of Aiken's historical examples show, is very much precedented.Having recently read Lucy Worsley’s ‘A Very British Murder’, I was struck by the similarities between the introduction of the internet and the urbanisation and mass migration to cities during the industrial revolution.There were several references in the chapter “Frankenstein and the Little Girl” that reinforced this idea to me. Aiken refers to how industrialisation affected child labour and how laws were eventually implemented to protect them as they need to be with the internet. She quotes John Suler as saying “You wouldn’t take your children and leave them alone in the middle of New York City, and that’s effectively what you’re doing when you allow them to go into cyberspace alone.” But New York City has the NYPD to protect its citizens, while early 19th Century London didn’t even have a Metropolitan police. The escalation in crime eventually led to its formation. Obviously I am not advocating that it is okay to leave a child alone in NYC because of the NYPD but rather that the internet, like the growing urban cities of the past, is generating a level of crime that is going to require the creation of a special group tasked to protect people online. The Metropolitan Police have recently set up such a unit, but it is hardly enough to tackle the scale of the problems. She refers to the Bystander Effect, or Diffusion of Responsibility, which is the idea that the more people who witness a crime or emergency, the less likely anyone is to help or respond. Have you ever seen someone in distress in a public place and walked on by? Policing the internet faces the same issue.Perhaps nothing solidified this correlation to urbanisation for me as much as the story of the two girls who committed murder in the name of Slender Man. You would think such a story would be incredibly modern. One murder some propose as the first of Jack the Ripper’s took place 2 days after the stage play of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde took place in London, some theorising that he drew inspiration from this. Aiken notes the influence of the film Child’s Play on the murder of Jamie Bolger. You could bring up other examples: the Aurora shooting at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises or the man who was inspired to buy ricin from the Dark Web after watching Breaking Bad. As Oscar Wilde once said, “Life imitates Art more than Art imitates life.”A recent study has even suggested the media reporting on mass shootings actually increases the amount of mass shootings in the following days through the contagion effect. Behavioural contagion often studies crowds, which became more prevalent during periods of urbanisation. I am reminded of Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The Man of the Crowd”, in which a man seems to be constantly part of the crowd. Maybe if Poe were alive today he would have written a story called “The Man of the Internet” about a man who seems to be constantly on the internet. The original story even has an epigraph from 2 centuries earlier, from “The Characters of Man” by Jean de La Bruyère: “This great misfortune, of not being able to be alone.” Perhaps Wordsworth might have begun a poem about the city “I wandered lonely in a crowd.” Sherry Turkle’s TED Talk on being “Connected, but Alone” has the same resonance.The psychology of the internet is very similar to the concerns people voiced about urbanisation: the proliferation of anonymity where people previously had known the whole community, the disinhibition provoked by this and the accessibility of a wide variety of experiences, not always morally virtuous. Maybe it was because psychology was not yet a discipline when mass urbanisation was happening we do not have the concepts that could be derived from that, but it wouldn't surprise me that had psychology been an accepted discipline before mass urbanisation that Aiken would have amended the words to begin with 'urban' or 'metropolitan'. I think some of the psychological effects go back even further. Here’s a quotation put into the mouth of Socrates by Plato in his "Phaedrus":“Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.”Doesn't that description sound like somebody describing the malignant misinformation of the Internet nowadays? As Jorge Luis Borges wrote in “Borges and I”, the written self and the actual self are always different. Such is it with the cyber self and the actual self. The section on “Cyberchondria” notes how the internet can exacerbate health concerns, but there is a precedent for this as well. At the beginning of Jerome K Jerome’s “Three Men in a Boat”, the narrator goes to the British Museum to find out what his ailment is and diagnoses himself with everything except Housemaid’s Knee. It is a clear case of hyperchondria similar to that described in The Cyber Effect, and Aiken mentions Gray’s Anatomy as previously being potentially used for such a purpose, as well as the fictional example of Hungry Joe in Joseph Heller’s Catch 22.If we are going to refer to the prevalence of the current problem as ‘cyberchondria’, should we not also retroactively refer to the hypochondria influenced by books as ‘bibliochondria’? If we refer to Munchausen by Internet should we not also refer to Don Quixote as suffering from Munchausen by book? If we refer to the ‘technosomatic effect’, should we not also refer to the bibliomatic effect?One final minor bugbear: Aiken at one point says “All gathered knowledge of human civilisation is available by using search engines” or will be, but this is hyperbole. There are things in printed books that are not on the internet yet and may never be because of disinterest, people who choose not to record things, or some other factor and all the while information is constantly expanding.The Cyber Effect tackles such a wide range of issues that I think it is invaluable as a source of information about the psychological repercussions of the internet, but it is far from comprehensive and I wished some subjects had been explored in greater detail. However, as you can see from the above, it was incredibly stimulating and thought-provoking, often with explanations that make you feel like you've turned toward the light from Plato's cave. It has whetted my mental appetite and some subjects I will investigate further, so despite the aforementioned personal gripes, I would recommend it to anyone who wants a little insight into where the world with is wide tangled web that has been woven might be heading.*This review has also been posted on my very occasional blog,*

  • Daniel Gusev
    2018-12-24 16:19

    Rather a (good) blog about the assorted new forms of behavior due to omnipresent webWeb indeed forms a new behavior and there are a number of stories to it. Where the author build for herself a formidable career out of it, it has not been demonstrated well how the knowledge allowed to be involved in all the activities that are reported in the book (starting with the the very SWAT team activity at the beginning). Covering stories well reported in other books, blogs and podcasts does not bode well for the originality of this one.

  • Christy
    2018-12-22 17:26

    It is a book that briefly touched the different aspects of cyberpsychology, but do not have much to back up theories or provide any deeper insight. Mostly, it felt more like Aiken's own speculations and opinions about the cyber world and its impact on the society with a few news articles to 'prove her point'. All and all, it's a good book for a light read, but if you are truly curious about the topic, I genuinely do not recommend this book.

  • Stephanie
    2018-12-25 16:25

    I won an ARC of this in a Goodreads' Giveaway.I commend the other reviewers--especially Brian Clegg--who have so thoroughly and eloquently expressed precisely what I thought of this book, per the negative and the positive. There is no need for me to repeat these points. Suffice it to say that this book is chiefly a cautionary "tale" of the deeply addictive and other alarming effects of our no-turning-back obsession and dependence upon all things "cyber." Most disturbing are the deleterious effects on children and youth who are the most vulnerable and susceptible, and who are now so indiscriminately dependent on and tethered to their devices, with no end in sight. That adults are equally caught up in the virtual vortex makes it that much worse.What bothered and annoyed me the most about the book was not its relentless alarmist tone--the points of which are well taken--but that Dr. Aiken allowed herself to be reduced at every turn to "there's not much we can really do about it" hand wringing over the subject, which is, admittedly, a runaway train. Of course, as a "good" scientist, she could not (or didn't have the courage to) violate the dictum to remain objective and take any firm or deliberate stand which would place her on the slippery slope of philosophical moralizing or telling people what she thinks they could or should do--other than the insipid advice to monitor your children's and your own cyber use as best you can--that is, IF you can. Good luck with that.All her what-if and if-only suggestions and calls for change aimed at marketers, programmers, watchdogs, users, etc., were good and well meaning ideas, but naive and untenable, simply because none of it will ever happen, unless it is all regulated to death, which of course will call into question the freedom of, well, just about everything. So what, then, is the point of it all? There's not much one can do about what is happening "out there." At the end of the day it takes personal responsibility and hyper vigilance to control the cyberworld and to not let it control you--in other words, turn off and tune out, and (horrors!!) toss it out if you have to.

  • Samuel
    2019-01-14 10:16

    The field of cyberpsychology (the impact of new technologies upon human behaviour) is of real fascination to me. As someone who was brought up in one of the first generations into which the Internet became second nature, as a child already basically computer-literate by the age of six or seven, this book made me realise that some of the psychological traits and problems that I have battled with over the years may have been a result of the Internet. So to read Dr. Mary Aiken's easily accessible yet thorough introduction to this ever-increasing field of study was refreshing, enlightening and consoling. Aiken details the behaviours and disorders that have arisen or been worsened by the freedom and anonymity offered by cyberspace. There's sex and porn addiction, cyberexhibitionism, antisocial behaviour, the normalisation of bizarre (and sometimes criminal) fetishes, body dysmorphia, cyberchondria (hyperchondria induced by online medical advice sites), cybercrime, cyber altruism (our propensity to be more generous than we'd usually be in real life to online charities and crowdfunding schemes), the eeriness of the deep web... And these are complete with really juicy anecdotes and a few horror stories that are often quite shocking. Occasionally however Aiken can get a little shrieky about the negative aspects of cyber life. Plus she's overly pleased with her profession, starting far too many sentences with 'As a forensic cyberpsychologist...' or 'When I was working on CSI: Cyber...' Overall though a really good place to start for anyone interested in the internet and how it continues to impact the way we live and think.

  • Joy-Ann Chua
    2019-01-08 11:36

    In this book, Mary Aiken discovers the possibilities and dangers of the cyber world we live in. She uncovers aspects of the online world that one may be new to and never knew existed and puts into perspective the escalation of disorders due to the use of technology. As an amateur in the area of Cyberpsychology, I could identify with some of the points she made and could easily follow her through the book. It was a relatively easy read which made me more aware of certain ways I behave online and how to look out for others' behaviors. In the online sphere, people tend to act rashly and are more open because they feel they can remain anonymous. This, as pointed out by Aiken is incredibly dangerous because our instincts, which are honed for the real world, cannot guide us. This being said, some of Aiken's views may seem a little pessimistic as she seems to undermine all the positive aspects that technology has brought to our society. Her opinions of the online sphere are practical and may seem skewed towards the negative. From sexual disorders to addiction and body image issues, these issues already existed before technology came into play, but perhaps was heightened by the introduction to online communities which normalises such behaviour. I think it's important to take what she says into consideration and apply the knowledge to our daily lives, but it is also important to remember all the other positive effects that the cyber world has brought.

  • Lee
    2018-12-27 17:26

    The proliferation of digital technology and its impact on our lives is a familiar topic, but The Cyber Effect offers insight by examining the fundamental transformation of the human behaviour as a result of the cyber experience. The book is comprehensive and accessible, as it discusses commonplace topics of childrearing, fetish, teenager behaviour, and cyberchondria. However, the reader who is expecting robust analysis would likely be disappointed as there is a lack of strong and new evidence.The most significant, and laboured, point that Aiken makes would be the warning of the danger of excessive or inappropriate exposure to digital technology on the young - from the time one is a baby. For example, it is the habitual and casual checking of the mobile phones, or the lazy and indifferent recourse to the mobile device to pacify a wailing child, that have significant repercussions on the child. If done repeatedly or consistently, these actions shape the “emotional attachment style” and “connectivity patterns” of the child. Aiken also points to the vulnerability of almost any one towards the Internet. The Internet provides an optimum setting such as its “continuous feedback loop”, anonymity, and enhanced disinhibition, that normalises several kinds of dysfunctional behavior. At the end, Aiken also offers solutions to mitigate these changes from digital proliferation, emphasising the need for a transdisciplinary approach towards tackling the cyber frontier.

  • Arun Karthik
    2018-12-31 16:16

    Aiken labels herself as a pioneering cyberpsychologist, who specializes in the impact of technology on human behaviour. In the book, Aiken highlights several areas where technology might either be creating or exacerbating problems, from handing toddlers iPad to allowing teens unrestricted access to the Internet. While the problems that Aiken lists are definitely real, she frequently uses the most extreme incident of a problem, such as video game addiction leading to death or suicide. It gets to the point where it feels like she is simply fear mongering. I was hoping for a more nuanced perspective on technology and how it affects us, but all these extreme situations she portrays makes me wonder who exactly she is targeting with this book, as most young adults and youth will be able to tell that these situations she portrays are outliers. Aiken also indulges in some form of self-praise in every chapter, to the point where the book almost feels like a resume of sorts. Even if you can look past these problems, I wouldn't really recommend reading this book past the first few chapters, which are definitely the strongest. Towards the end, the problems and solutions she describes become more hypothetical and long winded. All in all, it's a mediocre book, and I recommend making your own judgement as parents when it comes to the internet and your children.

  • Scotts Lin
    2019-01-13 14:14

    I found this an interesting book because I grew up alongside the emergence of the Internet. The author mentioned in the beginning that while she acknowledges the positive aspects of the Internet, the core of this book will be focused on discussing the negative parts. Hence, do not feel frustrated if you think that the book is being one-sided.There were a few sweeping overstatements made that I am not fully convinced by. This is compounded with some irrelevant and inapplicable matching of cause and effect. To some people, this book might seem to serve as a scare tactic to warn the public about the imminent destruction of the world by the evil Internet.As the disruption caused by technology is going to affect everyone regardless of age and occupation, I believe this is a good casual read for non-technical users to learn about the dark side of the Internet. The topics covered by the author are real pressing issues and are undeniably important to be discussed in societies. Perhaps, these issues had been magnified with the invention of the Internet. Perhaps, the Internet had indeed replaced money as the root of all evil. These are good doubts, and reasonable ones, that we should keep in the back of our mind. On a side unrelated note, I felt that the author was a little bit arrogant and cocky but that did not affect the quality of the content.

  • Elise Taylor
    2018-12-26 15:29

    DNF'd at 50%.To begin with, I'm also an internet researcher. And not just in the "I Google a lot of stuff" point; I have a graduate degree and expertise in this. So I picked up this book in hopes that I'd learn something new that I could use in my dissertation.That is, until I started wanting to stab things. Did you know we should keep our kids offline until they're around 16 because PREDATORS? I didn't. Did you know that finding other people who share your sexual kink online - including, by the way, pretty normal things like spanking - is a sign of the downfall of society? I didn't. Did you know that the answer is the government? Let's pass some laws and it'll all be okay! I didn't.I decided to DNF this when she made the point that children in the Philippines and in Africa are at special risk because they don't have good parents who care about their online activities. It just oozed patronizing white colonization B-S. It felt like she was saying, "Those poor little brown children with parents who are too stupid to know there's a problem, they need protecting by us white people." And that, in a nutshell, is the reason for African colonization and the destruction of the continent as a whole. I don't feel like listening to a book filled with subtle racism anymore than I already have, thank you very much.