Technology and Sexual Addiction

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“I initially noticed tech-related sexual issues in the early 1990s, when online bulletin boards (BBS) and porn sites first hit the web. Prior to that, my clients were mostly hooked on real-world sexuality—serial affairs, prostitutes, sex clubs, and adult movie theaters, plus the occasional guy hooked on phone sex (the old-fashioned kind of phone that plugged into the wall). But when home computers and ubiquitous Internet connections came along, my clients were suddenly and primarily engaging in tech-driven sexuality. And this tech-sex trend continues unabated, with current-day sex addicts hooked on digital pornography, virtual sex games, webcam sex, hookup apps, teledildonics, and whatever else R&D departments can dream up.”

—Robert Weiss, Sex Addiction 101

The simple, sad truth is that with every advance in digital technology, more and more people are challenged by sexual addiction. Consider that research conducted in the 1980s (pre-Internet) suggested that anywhere from 3 to 5% of the adult male population was sexually addicted. By 1999, which was still the very early days of Internet usage, research showed that percentage had approximately doubled, to 8.5%. Nineteen years later we don’t have an updated number, but anecdotal evidence strongly suggests the percentage is still climbing. Today, it would be difficult to find even a single sex addict who hasn’t been involved in some way with online sexuality.

Without doubt, porn is the “industry leader” when it comes to cybersex addiction. This is hardly a surprise, given the recent online porn explosion. And no, we’re not exaggerating when we use the word explosion. In their book, A Billion Wicked Thoughts, researchers Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam write:

In 1991, the year the World Wide Web went online, there were fewer than 90 different adult magazines published in America, and you’d have been hard-pressed to find a newsstand that carried more than a dozen. Just six years later, in 1997, there were about 900 pornography sites on the Web. Today, the filtering software CYBERsitter blocks 2.5 million adult Web sites.

Of course, pornography is just the tip of the sexnological iceberg. In today’s world, it is possible to meet someone on a dating site or a hookup app, to flirt with that person via text and sext, to have sex with that person via webcam and teledildonic devices, and to brag about this hot new relationship on social media. All without ever being in the same room (or even the same country).

Hookup apps are especially problematic for digital-era sex addicts, primarily because they present an entire universe of readily available potential sexual partners, helpfully arranged, thanks to geo-locating software, from nearest to furthest away. And a person’s marital status, hobbies, job, religion, goals, and worldview don’t matter on these apps, because they’re all about the quick encounter. No muss, no fuss, just the sex, thank you very much. Many sex addicts post profiles on multiple apps simultaneously, staying logged in to all of them 24/7 and checking them constantly. Sometimes they’re looking for the next sexual encounter before they’re even done with the current sexual encounter.

If you or someone you know is struggling with digital sexual activity, you may want to consider installing a filtering and accountability software on your digital devices. For information about which products work best, click here.