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

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  1,100 ratings  ·  187 reviews
A groundbreaking exploration of how cyberspace is changing the way we think, feel, and behave

"A must-read for this moment in time."--Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics - One of the best books of the year--Nature

Mary Aiken, the world's leading expert in forensic cyberpsychology, offers a starting point for all future conversations about how the Internet is shaping
Audio CD, 14 pages
Published September 20th 2016 by Random House Audio (first published August 18th 2016)
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Keith I just read The Dark Net, a book written by a journalist, and found it actually talked more about the psychology of people online than The Cyber Effec…moreI just read The Dark Net, a book written by a journalist, and found it actually talked more about the psychology of people online than The Cyber Effect did but the only research is interviews, nothing clinical.

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Brian Clegg
Sep 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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-pr
Jul 16, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars

I 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 b
Lolly K Dandeneau
“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 hac
Sarah Galvin
Sep 19, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pop-psych
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
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. S
C. Hollis Crossman
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 ...more
Shana Yates
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 webs ...more
Jake Goretzki
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018

Picked this up from my dad, who was at a conference where Mary Aiken was a celeb guest speaker of sorts.

Enjoyable in its breadth, but very subjective and speculative - a lot of the warnings about future threats and harms being based on a handful of case studies (e.g. cyberchondria, dark web, etc). In some respects it can feel like a polished up version of Daily Mail-level scaremongering.

What I disliked most was the seam of puritanism and disapproval running through it. 'Kids were playing C
Oct 19, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Your dad the next time he starts complaining about cell phones making people ignore each other
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 th
Emmy Gregory
Nov 27, 2016 rated it did not like it
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 Fet ...more
Kara Sabbagh
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This took me years to read and it was all the hell out of order but it was really really good. I love the insanely weird range of topics covered here 😂 I feel like I really did learn some useful stuff that I will apply to my parenting in the future, but I also came across many points that nailed things that pertain to my own life that I otherwise wouldn’t have put in that perspective or known about. Love the writing style, love her voice. Really not that hard of a read I just infinitely dragged ...more
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-won
I won a copy of this book.

Next time you're in a restaurant, look for a family with children. How many of the adults are on their phones? What are the kids doing? My guess would be adults are on their phones and children are either (a) on a device themselves or (b) looking to interact with the someone.

The next time you go to Target, pay attention to the parents who have kids with them. How are the kids interacting with the adults and vice versa? Aiken makes some compelling points as to why we sh
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
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 Goodread
Tracey Ryan young
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Jul 27, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: selfhelp, audiobooks

Confounded associations presented as information and argumentation. Sensationalism.

She equates 9/11 to nazi concentration camps and less over protective european upbringing to making kids work in coalmines, topping it of with a tired „throwing them into the deep end of the pool“.

This is a horrible book!
Please don‘t read it!
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 readi
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is abook that makes you want to go finish your life in a hidden inaccessible cave! The kind of reading that once you finish, you cannot pretend you didn't know. And this kind of knowledge is deeply disturbing. Realizing that the virtual dimension is actually bigger than real life is scary. The little control we have over it is very distressing. The Internet has and will continue to change humanity at every single level of its existence. This reads like a very gloomy picture of the book, but ...more
May 21, 2020 rated it liked it
When I bought this book, I was very intrigued and hopeful to learn a lot about how internet changes human behaviour.
Unfortunately, it was quite disappointing. Author provides some interesting examples on how internet impact kids, romance, norms, but in 95% of cases from a negative point of view. She really views internet as a big threat and is only worried about the impacts, which feels weird given how much she talks about her passion for cyber psychology.
Anyways, it’s an interesting read, but
Ibtisam Amin
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was wishing for more neuroscience and the cool brain hormonal system, but I was disappointed in this regard. Generally an insightful book with important issues shedding light on potential dark future if not contained and regulated. I enjoyed it. with some modifications it can work as a dystopian novel.
Rita Sophie
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Fahed Aln
Why it is easier for us to open up to strangers and make new friends online than real live?
Do you want to be scared of the internet? Then this is the right book for you.
Barbara Michalski
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 teenage ...more
Nov 28, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"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 18
Feb 16, 2017 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 27, 2017 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Jordan "this-guy-reads" Matelsky
With respect to the author, I appreciate that publicly-accessible scientific writing is a challenge, and spanning computer science and psychology is particularly tricky. The internet has changed a lot since the book was written, though I'm not sure every issue I found was due to that alone.
Much of the neuroscience of this book was made up, or wildly inaccurate. (Neurotransmitters don't fire. Brain areas show up on an MRI whether or not they're actively contributing to a behavior. There is no "lo
Sep 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
*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, t
Daniel Gusev
Rather a (good) blog about the assorted new forms of behavior due to omnipresent web

Web 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
Oct 31, 2016 rated it liked it
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. ...more
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Mary Aiken is an associate professor at the University College Dublin, Geary Institute for Public Policy, and academic advisor (Psychology) to the European Cyber Crime Centre (EC3) at Europol. She is a lecturer in Criminology and research Fellow at the School of Law, Middlesex University and a Fellow of the Society for Chartered IT Professionals. Mary is a sense making Fellow at the IBM Network Sc ...more

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