There are at least two factors that allow cybersex activities to escalate quickly in a person’s life—with the person doing risky behavior they have not done before or maybe never knew existed.
Anonymity is a huge factor. We can be anyone we want on the Internet. We don’t have the risk of being seen in a porn shop. We can download all the porn we want for free. Whatever we can think or fantasize about can be found on the Internet.
Denial is another factor. Impaired thinking allows us to excuse and justify our behavior. We tell ourselves that pornography isn’t real. It is “virtual” and no one is being hurt—including ourselves. We may think that we can stop whenever we want to with no problem, but have found out we can’t.
The Risks of Cybersex
Pornography and online activities can quickly become time-consuming. Hours can pass on the Internet in which there is a loss of time—and reality. The Internet has a great capacity to induce a trancelike state. Sexual thoughts and obsessions are involved in a repetitious process. This whole cycle leads inevitably to sexual compulsion and more loss of control.
Carnes made several observations about adults in his book Facing the Shadow, but these observations can apply to teens too. He identified five critical points about the accelerating power of cybersex to become an obsession and a compulsion:
- Compulsive cybersex involves rapid escalation of the amount and variety of sex. Some teens have rapidly moved from viewing pornography to sexting.
- The escalation of cybersex becomes more and more obsessive with new behaviors becoming quickly learned and established. In some cases, it has taken years in the past for these new behaviors to develop, but not so anymore with the riveting power of cybersex. Teens are fast discovering new sexual practices that were not in their awareness.
- Compulsive use of pornography involves significant harm to real relationships. Pornography exposes teens to unrealistic and damaging views for both men and women and sexuality.
- Compulsive behaviors online can result in sex addiction offline. While it doesn’t happen to every person, cybersex can serve as a stimulus and gateway to compulsive sex.
- The computer and Internet become sexualized. For example, using the keyboard, specific websites, and the webcam become arousing sexually. Anything can be a trigger.
[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#rhc”]We tell ourselves pornography isn’t real. It is virtual and no one is being hurt. We’re blind to the truth.[/tweetthis]
Pornography and online activities have increased in a relatively short time along with the number of adults and teens struggling with sexual compulsivity. While the Internet has been a great boon to the expansion of knowledge and relationships, it has also led people very quickly down a path of pain and even nightmares.