College-Aged Students May Become Desensitized to Real-Life Relationships Due to Cybersex

Why has cybersex grown so rapidly in recent years from a somewhat obscure term into a common part of many people’s conversations? A recent blog on the Winnipeg Free Press says the answer is found in one word – anonymity. This may be affecting more young teens and college-aged students than ever before. Not only are students in these age groups more likely to participate in risky behaviors, but they’re also more likely to consider sexual activities online as "normal" ways of communicating with others.

Communicating with another person online about sexual fantasies or exchanging sexual photos has become a multi-billion dollar industry to which no age group or demographic is immune. Research indicates the first viewing of a pornographic image online in the U.S. occurs around age 11, and it is estimated that three to five percent of U.S. adults are addicted to sex.

However, the post suggests that young teens and college students may spend more time on computers than people in other demographic groups. Other research indicates this could make these groups even more vulnerable to online pornography addiction or Internet sex addictions.

Researchers in the study, conducted at the University of New Brunswick, said nearly two-thirds of students attending college or universities are participating in sexual behaviors online. When students engage in sexual activities online, they may feel even more uninhibited because they often believe their identity can’t be found out. The reality, however, is that sexual photos or interactions are never truly private online and cannot be removed from cyberspace. They can also be used as bullying material or appear years later across the Internet.

Additionally, without the ability to receive cues from another human in one-to-one contact, the majority of the value of a conversation is missed, say researchers. As students participate in sexual games online or develop more online relationships, they may be more likely to become desensitized to the value of sincere human relationships. This could put them at higher risk for real-world sexual encounters with multiple partners.

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