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The Impact of Technology on Human Sexual Behavior Sam Wallace, M.S.,LPC & Jason Thorne, B.S.

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Presentation on theme: "The Impact of Technology on Human Sexual Behavior Sam Wallace, M.S.,LPC & Jason Thorne, B.S."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Impact of Technology on Human Sexual Behavior Sam Wallace, M.S.,LPC & Jason Thorne, B.S.

2 The Internet “The Internet is transforming the experience of growing up in America. The Internet brings the world-the good, the bad, and the ugly-to the American family’s doorstep. It brings the ruins of ancient Athens to that doorstep, but it also brings the red light district of Bangkok.” (The Third Way Culture Project report, 2005)

3 “Closer” (2004)

4 Rationale Schneider (2000) qualitative study: Lack of information about the power of online experience of cybersex Lack of information about types of online sexual activities Underestimated the effect on the user Failure to make it a priority to stop illegal or self- destructive behavior

5 The Internet As of 2004, 164 million active users of the World Wide Web in the U.S. 60% of U.S. Population As of June 2008, there were 220 million active users of the World Wide Web in the U.S. (Internet World Stats, 2008) (Internet World Stats, 2008) 72% of U.S. Population

6 The Internet Internet sales 70 billion dollars; up 26% 2 billion web pages available, 200,000 added daily 9.8 hours average use per week (Computerworld, 1998, in Cooper, Delmonico, & Burg, 2000) Issues of human sexuality remain the most searched topic (Dew, Brubaker, & Hays, 2006)

7 The Internet: The Triple “A” Engine Three Uniquely Distinguishing Factors Affordability Accessibility Anonymity (Cooper, 1998, in Cooper, Griffin-Shelley, Delmonico, & Mathy, 2001)

8 (Delmonico & Griffin, 2004)

9 The Cyberhex Integral: Nearly impossible to avoid (public availability, work related, research, email) Imposing: Amount of general information Inexpensive: Relatively small fee for an intoxicating amount of material Isolating: Escape into interpersonal relationships requiring less social skills than offline behaviors Interactive: Approximation of relationships which fuel fantasy life Intoxicating: Summation of previous five elements makes this a medium very difficult to resist (Delmonico & Griffin, 2004)

10 Cyber User Categories Discovery Group: Were psychologically healthy and had no identifiable symptoms of sexual or mental health disorders Upon discovery of cybersex became almost immediately compulsive with the OSA (Carnes et al., in Delmonico & Miller, 2003)

11 Cyber User Categories Predisposed Has significant history of identifiable sexual or mental health disorders, but for the most part have been able to control their sexual feelings, fantasies, and urges Has learned to establish internal controls that help prevent inappropriate sexual behavior Discovery of the OSA seems to remove some pre- established controls and compulsivity ensues (Carnes, et al., 2000, in Delmonico & Miller, 2003)

12 Cyber User Categories Lifelong Sexually Compulsive Struggled with their sexual behavior their entire life Internet sex becomes extension of pre-existing compulsive behaivior Have history of problematic sexual behavior May have had legal, educational, or relational consequences as a result of their general sexual compulsivity (Carnes et al., in Delmonico & Miller, 2003)

13 Sex and the Internet 20%-34% of adult internet users have engaged in some form of online sexual activity (OSA) Online Sexual Activity is defined as the use of the Internet for any activity that involves sexual activity (e.g., text, audio, or graphics) Sharing images Purchasing materials Downloading erotica Sexually explicit discussions Searching for sexual partners (Dew, Brubaker, & Hays, 2006)

14 Sex and the Internet Individuals who used the Internet and had an extramarital affair were 3.18 times more likely to have used Internet pornography than individuals who used the internet but did not engage in affairs. Individuals who engaged in paid sex were 3.7 times more likely to use Internet pornography than those who did not engage in paid sex. (Stack, Wasserman, & Kern, 2004 in Manning, 2006)

15 Escalation Relationships that begin on the net often extend beyond the Internet into face-to-face encounters (Whitty & Gavin, 2001) The Dew, Brubaker, and Hays (2006) study found that 78% of men had at least one face-to-face sexual encounter in the past 12 months resulting from an internet encounter

16 Online Sexual Activity Females 1. Chat Rooms 48.1% 2. World Wide Web 22.9% 3. Email 13.3% 4. Other 12.6% 5. Newsgroups 3.1% Males 1. World Wide Web 51% 2. Chat Rooms 21.% 3. Newsgroups 13.8% 4. Email 7.6% 5. Other 6% (Cooper, Delmonico, & Burg, 2000)

17 Understanding Online Attraction Physical Attractiveness-little to no emphasis in web relationships Similarity-attraction increases when a potential partner is perceived being attitudinally similar to oneself (Brehm,1992 in Cooper and Sportolari, 1997) The internet increases one’s chance of connecting with like-minded people Self Disclosure-The sufficient distance of Internet communication makes it safer to reveal more (Cooper & Sportolari, 1997)

18 Understanding Online Attraction Interpersonal Space/Intimacy-Heightened sense of interpersonal space that exists between people; one that in face to face interactions may collapse given the press of the other person Erotic Connection-Develops out of intimate, less inhibited sharing and emotional sharing vs. lustful attraction of physical attributes (Cooper & Sportolari, 1997)

19 Social vs. Isolating Two Primary Cybersex Behaviors Social: chat rooms, email text messaging; engage in flirting, seducing, being seduced Isolating: viewing, exchanging pornography, typically download files and view it offline (Delmonico & Miller, 2003)

20 Internet Chat Rooms Dynamic of being able to enjoy the stability of a marriage and the thrills of the dating scene at the same time Chat rooms Any subject imaginable Any time of the day or night Yahoo: Married and Flirting MSN: Married But Flirting Lets give it a try (Mileham, 2007)

21 Internet Chat Rooms Internet chats violate norms of Western culture where: Exclusivity is expected in relationships and endorsed by public opinion Online chats occur in secrecy, even if just restricted to the computer and constitute deception in the relationship. Most spouses feel as or nearly as betrayed, angry and hurt by online infidelity as they would if skin-to- skin adultery had taken place (Mileham, 2007)

22 Internet Infidelity “Thoughts, feelings, and behaviors outside of a committed sexual relationship in such a way that it damages the relationship, and then pretending that this drain of energy will affect neither partner nor the relationship, as long as it remains undiscovered” (Shaw, 1997)

23 Internet Pornography and Martial Relationships Threatens stability of relationships Decreases sexual satisfaction and sexual intimacy in couples Perceived as a act of betrayal that is as real as offline infidelity (Manning, 2006)

24 Marital/Relational Satisfaction 15-20% of marital vitality and satisfaction attributable to functional sexuality in relationships (McCarthy, 2003 in Reid & Woolley, 2006) Barry McCarthy says…. Some self-reports suggest that sexual problems account for 50-70% of distress in relationships (McCarthy, 2003 in Reid & Woolley, 2006)

25 Computer Human Interaction (CHI) Computer human interaction refers to all the ways that humans and computers, or more broadly technology, interact with each other.

26 Outline Cybersex/Pornography Second Life Teledildonics VirtualFem

27 Cybersex/Pornography Men are more likely to view online pornography. Women are more likely to engage in erotic chat. Individuals with high risk… People with low self esteem People with distorted body images People with untreated sexual dysfunction

28 Cybersex/Pornography Internet can be viewed as a safe sexual outlet to fulfill their underlying compulsive- habit. Typically not the individuals that go to strip clubs or rent dirty movies. Why engage in cybersex?

29 Online Identity Anonymity-Give users a greater sense of perceived control over the content, tone, and nature of the online sexual experience. Disinhibiting-It is clear the internet makes people less inhibited. Online users can conceal their age, marital status, gender, race, vocation, and appearance.

30 Consequences Severe depression Suicidal ideation Low self-esteem Shame Hopelessness/Helplessness Intense anxiety Loneliness Genital injury-Beware of SSRI’s Loss of job Financial and legal

31 Second Life Second Life is a virtual online game created in 2002 by Linden Labs. Users, called residents, customize Avatars to represent themselves in their “Second Life”. Users have to purchase linden dollars to buy for changes to their avatar and environment.

32 Avatar

33 Environment

34 Avatar


36 Second Life Residents are able to buy, sell, and trade real estate. Today there are more than 65,000 acres of virtual land. Other assets, including products and services can be bought and sold. In order to have sexual contact with other residents a bed must be purchased. In order to have sexual contact both members must have purchased beds.


38 What age group uses second life the most?

39 Demographics 84% of the population is 25 years and older. 45 and older: 70 hrs per user per month 35-44: 66 hrs per user per user per month 25-34: 56 hrs per user per user per month 18-24: 38 hrs per user per user per month Teen grid: 25 hrs per user per user per month Females spent nearly twice as long online in Second Life as males. Females make up 46% of the Second Life population. Total user hours for April 2008 totaled 29,069,684 hrs, down some from March’s record 30,625,176, but still better than any other prior month.

40 Teledildonics Defined Teledildonics defined--"Sex in a computer simulated virtual reality, especially computer- mediated sexual interaction between the presences of two humans.“ An easier way of thinking about it is using a sex toy where someone else is controlling the toy, and they aren’t in the room. Teledildonics could be considered an extension of cybersex that brings in a tactile interaction between two people.

41 Oh Mi Bod iPod iPhone “Podnography” Share your playlist

42 Hugs! The Hug Shirt is a shirt that makes people send hugs over distance! Embedded in the shirt there are sensors that feel the strength of the touch, the skin warmth and the heartbeat rate of the sender and actuators that recreate the sensation of touch, warmth and emotion of the hug to the shirt of the distant loved one.


44 VirtualFem VirtualFem You interact with the on-screen girl (represented with video and text chat plus optional speech synthesis and voice recognition) and she follows your every command. Don't like what she says or does? Just change her via interactive brain- editing!

45 Choice of Girls Sign up now and enjoy VirtualFem Emily. She's a beautiful girl who will take good care of you! Emily is installed with the VirtualFem software.

46 A Theory about How Someone Becomes Addicted New Online User New Online Activity Enchantment (obsession) Disillusionment (avoidance) Becomes Normal (Balance)

47 Questions or Comments Is virtual sex real sex? Is engaging in an online relationship cheating? Can cybersex be an addiction?

48 References Carnes, P., Nonemaker, D., & Skilling, N. (1991.) Gender differences in normal and sexually addicted populations. American Journal of Preventive Psychiatry and Neurology, 3, 16-23. Griffiths, M. (2001). Sex on the Internet: Observations and implications for internet sex addiction. The Journal of Sex Research, 38 (4), 333-342. Guigliamo, J. (2006). Out of Control Sexual Behavior: A Qualitative Investigation. Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity, 13, 361-375. Keane, H. (2004). Disorders of Desire: Addiction and Problems of Intimacy. Journal of Medical Humanities, 25, 189-206. Orzack, M. H., & Ross, C. J. (2000). Should Virtual Sex be Treated Like Other Sex Addictions? Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 7, 113-125.

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