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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Psychology and the internet: a social ecological analysis.

  • Author(s): Montero, Maria
  • Stokols, Daniel
  • et al.

This paper proposes a research strategy based on a social ecological analysis of the Internet and its psychological impact as an option to generate original research to answer the follow ing question: What is the psycho-environmental meaning of the Internet? This paper has two objectives: first, to analyze Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) linked to the use of the Internet from a social ecological approach, and second, to propose some relationships among variables from a social ecological perspective, which can help to clarify the variability and magnitude of the psychosocial effect associated with the Internet. This article is divided into three sections. The first briefly describes the origins and development of the Internet. It identifies some technological features and specifies some of the cutting-edge breakthroughs that have facilitated its expansion. The second section proposes a conceptual scheme from the social ecological perspective, which analyzes the subject-environmental binomial associated with the Internet. It identifies the basic assumption, the conceptual richness, and possibilities for research on the Internet, using a social ecological approach. Finally, the last section describes the scope and limitations of this perspective, and discusses its heuristic utility for the development and consolidation of a new area in psychological research: "digital psychology or cyber psychology."

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