Internet Safety -- Know the Risks of Online Sex

How Cybersex Can Get You Into Trouble

Internet safety is something that everyone needs to be aware of. Part of the attraction of cybersex, or online sex, is that it can feel safe and anonymous to the user. In reality, it is anything but. Your activity on the internet is very accessible to others, many of whom do not have your best interests at heart.

Some kinds of internet sex sites are particularly high risk. Here are some real life risks that have happened as a result of people seeking sex online. These situations could be a sign of sex addiction:

Health Problems

Anxious women having medical test considers internet safety
Internet safety includes avoiding health risks, such as STDs, which have higher rates among women who seek sex online. BURGER/PHANIE Getty Images

One study of online sex showed that more women have real life sexual encounters with people they meet online than men. However, another study showed that women who do this take more sexual risks and have higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

Another study of youth showed that young heterosexual men who met partners online were less likely to use condoms. Gay and queer young men are more likely to seek sexual partners online when they have multiple partners, older partners, and partners with a history of STDs. People accessing online sex report that it can quickly become compulsive and lead to problems with sex addiction.

Online sex can lead to other health problems. A happily married man with children and an excellent career became obsessed with internet sex. He pretended to work late as an excuse to come home later and to stay up late on the computer. Lack of sleep and the stress and guilt of lying and covering up took it's toll on his health, and eventually, he suffered an unexpected heart attack. Only at this point did he disclose his cybersex addiction and distress to the hospital chaplain.

Public Embarrassment and Judgements

Accessing porn can cause problems, even if you aren't doing for sexual gratification. A male parole officer who worked with sex offenders accessed online porn at work to try and understand more about his clients. But the increasing number of hours spent online was noticed by his boss, who gave him a warning.

Sexting can also bring about embarrassment. You might think your nude picture is just for your boyfriend, but many young women have found themselves humiliated by the sharing of such pictures once the relationship goes sour. Some have even found themselves implicated in child pornography.

Violence and Abuse

Meeting people for sex online, through sites such as Tinder, can pose a risk of violence and abuse. A married woman, who had cheated on her husband throughout their marriage, discovered internet chat rooms. She became infatuated with her online life, spending her evenings having online affairs with men online. She gave out her phone number and engaged in phone sex with them.

She arranged an in-person meeting to have sex in a hotel with a man she felt was irresistible. They met and had sex, after which she was attacked, beaten unconscious, and left for dead. Two days later, she woke up in hospital with no idea how she got there. Her belongings had been stolen, the hospital staff had no means of identification, and her distraught husband had filed a missing persons report. She immediately sought help for sex addiction.

Legal Problems and Arrest

Many people dabbling in online sex have found themselves experiencing legal problems as a result.

A well off single man discovered chat rooms, and decided to set up sex with a 15 year old girl. After discovering she was planning on meeting another chat room user for sex, he went to the appointed place to watch the action. He saw the other man show up, and be arrested, as the scene swarmed with police squad cars and FBI agents. Realizing how close he had come to arrest, he sought help the next day.

Another man who stumbled upon a cybersex site by accident began spending more and more time online, until he was spending fifteen to twenty hours per week online, trying to "hook up" with young girls. He was arrested for trying to meet an underage girl he had connected with online, who turned out to be an adult male FBI agent.

A man who downloaded a child pornography image to a chat room was arrested through an undercover operation, and lost most of his savings and retirement funds on legal fees. He lost his job and his home, as well as the respect of the community. He faced house arrest and a potential prison term of 220 years.

Financial Problems

The cost of online sex can also lead to financial problems. A man in his thirties discovered he had run up credit card charges of over $12,000. He had lost track of how many cybersex sites he had registered for. Costs can quickly be incurred through going past your free minute limit in chat rooms, and through online sex work services.



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Carnes, P., Delmonico, Ph.D., G.riffin, E., Moriarity, J.. In the Shadows of the Net: Breaking Free of Compulsive Online Sexual Behavior. Center City, MN: Hazelden. 2001.

McFarlane, M., Kachur, R., Bull, S., & Rietmeijer, C. (2004). Women, the Internet, and Sexually Transmitted Infections. Journal Of Women's Health (15409996), 13(6), 689-694.

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