Social bookmarking and social networking sites, such as MySpace, Digg and Facebook, have found their way into mainstream Internet society. With this social setting, many in the psychology world are turning to study the growning phenomenon of Internet psychology has a whole new and different behavioral and cognitive study approach.
Internet psychology is the term used to describe the study of the behaviors and interactions of individuals on the Internet and other electronic mediums for communication. Compiling components of not only learning and behavior, psychologists have also incorporated other key psychological factors, when studying Internet psychology, in terms of addiction and communication.
What is fascinating about social networking and social bookmarking, is the ability of individuals, in our society, to communicate and influence a massive number of individuals with one form of communication. Because this communication can be synchronized, or not synchronized, psychology is interested in how this communication variance, or communication “at will”, will ultimately impact our personal relationships with one another.
In addition to the advancement, or inhibiting of personal relationships, the issues involving Internet psychology are also looking at how the Internet allows each individual to set, respect and violate boundaries. Beyond this, many studies are now focused on the effects of anonymity in Internet communication and the issues surrounding blog communications which are, often, very opinionated. In fact, the preliminary findings of Internet psychology have found that individuals who generally do not understand, and respect the boundaries in everyday one-on-one communication, often, will more easily, and aggressively, disrespect boundaries on the internet; such is the case with child sex predators.
Because the Internet is a crucial medium in which to obtain information, handle business transactions and even learn, through online learning portals, those studying Internet psychology are looking at ways in which society is using the Internet on a more constructive level, rather than the social impact.
And, yet, there is also a growing need to study the cause and effect of a growing phenomenon known as Internet addiction. Because many children, teenagers and adults are showing signs of great influence in terms of Internet addiction this may be one of the key areas of research in the next few years.
As with any area of psychology, the study of Internet psychology is a broad and all encompassing project. For many psychologists, the focus, right now, is on the impact of communication and addiction with the hopes that study results may lead to an awakening of our society into not only the benefits of the World Wide Web, but also in the potential complications.