Internet Safety Risks Associated with Cybersex

The Dangers of Internet Sex

Internet safety is something that everyone needs to be aware of. Part of the attraction of cybersex, or internet based sexual activity, 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.

"In the Shadows of the Net," by Patrick Carnes et al, outlines some real life scenarios that have occurred as a result of people engaging in cybersex:

Risk of Public Embarrassment

A male parole officer who worked with sex offenders accessed online porn at work to try and understand more about his clients. After his increasing number of hours spent online was noticed by his boss, he was warned to watch himself, and be careful his other responsiblities were not being neglected.

Risk of Arrest

A pair of handcuffs
Being arrested for illeagl online behavior is an internet safety risk. Freeimages

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.

Risk of Attack

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.

Risk of 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 prostitution services.

Risk of 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.

Risk of Losing It All

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.



Carnes, Ph.D., Patrick, Delmonico, Ph.D., Griffin, M.A., Elizabeth, with Moriarity, Joseph. In the Shadows of the Net: Breaking Free of Compulsive Online Sexual Behavior. Center City, MN: Hazelden. 2001.

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