By Elizabeth Hayen
The anonymity and accessibility of online communication has encouraged a surge of all forms of activity. People can do business without needing to meet in person. You can trade stocks, get information, trade recipes. You can play Scrabble with someone on the other side of the world. You can even start an online relationship.
Sometimes, online anonymity encourages people to explore in ways they would not in real-life. For example, you may tell someone online your deepest secret because you don’t have to face them in the morning. That feels safer. And for example, some men and women engage in sexual fantasies that otherwise would not occur. Some may engage in cybersex in a chat room or through email. Maybe someone will visit pornographic sites more consistently. Someone may engage in or look at sadomasochistic material.
For some, this kind of usage become problematic. About 3% to 6% of Americans have sexual addiction. And although the Internet provides an endless amount of valuable information, it has also become a dangerous pitfall for the estimated 2 million sexually addicted Internet users, both in and out of recovery. Often an individual seeks out sexual material out of curiosity. They will start to visit a sexual site more and more or other sites like it. Are you aware that this is happening to you? Have you wondered if you or a friend of yours has a problem?
Answer the following self-quiz questions to see if you may want to take advantage of the services listed below:
- Do you regularly spend significant amounts of time looking at sexual material online or in online sexual chat rooms?
- Do you spend more time than intended looking at sexual material on the internet?
- Do you have a difficult time stopping your online use of sexual material once you started?
- Have you ever made a promise to yourself that you would quit spending as much time on the internet with sexual material and then broken that commitment?
- Have you noticed your grades slipping or your attendance at class or work decreasing due to your online use?
- Do you masturbate while online looking at sexual material or engaged in sexual behavior with others online?
- Do you use anonymous online communication in order to engage in sexual behavior otherwise not typical in real-life?
- Are the sexual images that you seek becoming more graphic than those you viewed before in order to gain similar excitement levels?
- Have you ever been caught using sexual material online?
- Has anyone ever suggested that you may spend too much time online?
- Has your online use ever interfered with time spent with family, friends, or romantic partner?
- When you are offline, do you think about or plan your next online experience or think about your most recent online experience?
- Do you try to hide your online behavior from others (for example, by logging on late at night)?
If you have answered yes to several of these questions, you may want to seek help or more information at one or more of the following places:
In the Shadows of the Net: Breaking Free of Compulsive Online Sexual Behavior – Patrick Carnes (ed.)
As UWEC’s Computing and Networking Usage Guidelines point out, using your University computing privileges for harassment or viewing sexually explicit materials or spamming (among other uses) are prohibited. See Student Services and Standards for further information about appropriate use.