As convenient as the drive-up window at your favorite fast-food restaurant, online sex requires little effort short of booting up and logging on. With its easy access comes an increasing number of people who are banging away at their computers for some electronic satisfaction.
A survey of Canadian college students found that 87 percent of more than 2,500 respondents 'fessed up to technology-assisted sex via tools like instant message, Web cams, and text message.
But what does the online sexual revolution have to say about the future of intimacy, relationships, communication, and honesty? Experts provide cyber perspective to those seeking sex in cyberspace.
Noah Gurza is one of the founders of CampusKiss.com, Canada's largest online dating community for university and college students. He posted a survey on the Internet, with 2,684 students from more than 150 universities and colleges in Canada responding.
"Primarily it was an opportunity to gauge the views of students nationwide on their views on sex, their sex lives, practices, and desires," Gurza tells WebMD.
He posed questions like, how many times a week do you have sex? Do you practice monogamy? And the heavy hitter, do you have virtual sex?
"We were expecting a high number of students to respond to this question as having engaged in virtual sex," Gurza says. "A number approximating around 50 percent was our expected guess. We knew it would be high, given that students were filling this survey anonymously and as such would feel comfortable being truthful about their sexual habits."
Gurza was surprised to find 50 percent wasn't even close.
"Eighty-seven percent having had virtual sex was astonishing to us, but upon reflection it is very much a testament to the demographic we are dealing with," says Gurza, of the 18- to 22-year-olds who responded to the survey -- many of whom grew up in an online world. "Given the Net has infused many aspects of their lives, it is only fitting that this would be extended to social elements of their interaction and by proxy to the sexual dimensions of their lives."
New Technology, New Choices
Email, instant messaging, the ever-handy text message via cell phone, Web cam, chat rooms, and the tried-and-true telephone -- all the technologies of choice for those looking for cyber pleasure.
With a new generation well-versed in the language of high-tech love, what about those who think of an online world as foreign? And what does virtual sex have to say about the real deal? Is old-fashioned hanky panky a thing of the past? And intimacy and honesty -- too much of a hassle?
"Virtual sex infiltrated the culture about five years ago when it wasn't just the techies anymore -- it was anyone who was interested in this type of sexual stimulation," says Louanne Cole Weston, Ph.D., a board-certified sex therapist in Fair Oaks, Calif. "The average person could participate without having to be technologically fluent."
For the "average person," explains Weston, online sex offers a new option to an act as old as humans.
"This provides a good option to people who are not as sexually desirable because of their physical appearance," says Weston. "Now, people who were disenfranchised by virtue of their appearance have an outlet to be sexually active in a nondiscriminating marketplace."
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