- Too much time spent surfing Internet
sex sites can damage your mental health, a study has found.
- It found that individuals who spend 11
hours or more a week visiting such sites are more prone to psychological
difficulties such as sexual compulsivity.
- It also noted differences between men
and women in how they used the Internet for sex.
- While women prefer to use sex chat rooms,
men enjoy looking at pictures.
- Web survey
- The findings come as a result of a questionnaire
posted on the MSNBC Web site. It was completed by 13,529 individuals.
- Dr Alvin Cooper, who led the study, published
his results in the journal Professional Psychology: Research and Practice.
- The study sought to determine who was
using the Internet for sexual pursuits, where they were going, what they
were doing there, and how it was affecting their lives.
- He found that while most of those who
visit sexually oriented sites without any negative impact, the sites do
pose risks for some people.
- Those who spend 11 hours or more surfing
sex sites show signs of psychological distress and admit that their behaviour
interferes with some areas of their lives, it found.
- Time spent online for sexual pursuits
may be an indicator of other problems that exist in users' lives, or may
even create further dependence, according to the study's authors.
- Online survey
- The study was conducted over a seven-week
period during March and April of last year. Its main findings were:
- Men are the largest consumers of sexually
explicit material on the Internet - male respondents (86%) outnumbered
female respondents (14%) by a ratio of six to one. Women favour the use
of chat rooms, which offer more interaction and the development of relationships
(49% females to 23% males) Men favour visual erotica (50% males to 23%
females) Most individuals (64%) were either married (47%) or in a committed
relationship (17%) Of the single individuals (36%), half were dating and
half were not
- The researchers found that time spent
online for sexual pursuits was a strong predictor of both sexual compulsivity
- They said that although online sexual
compulsivity is a relatively rare condition, 8% of the survey respondents
were found to be most at risk.
- This compares to the estimated 5% of
the general population who are affected by sexual compulsivity.
- However, most of those surveyed (92%)
spend under 11 hours a week in online sexual pursuits, and half spend less
than one hour a week for online sexually-related activities.
- Having a laugh
- Most people appear to use sexual material
on the Internet as a source of entertainment more than for sexual release
and reported that online experiences were satisfying but not particularly
arousing, the researchers said.
- But honesty did suffer - 61% said they
occasionally "pretended" about their age while on the Net.
- Thirty-eight per cent admitted presenting
themselves as a race different than their own.
- And three out of four respondents said
they were secretive about how much time they spend online for sexual pursuits,
although 87% said they felt no guilt or shame about the time they spent
- Dr Cooper, of the San Jose Marital and
Sexuality Centre, said: "This study provides the first step in understanding
the common use of the Internet and can help mental health professionals
to develop guidelines to prevent, diagnose, intervene and treat sexual
compulsivity and related disorders.
- "In addition it may be useful in
the identification of other issues that may be going on in users' lives
for which they wish to escape by turning to their keyboards."