Source: 365

Surfing the Net for gay porn? Spending half your day in Chat Rooms? You could be a Cyber-sex addict.

A California sexologist says most of us surf for sex, but about 6.5% of male internet users are compulsive about it, so much so that Dr Al Cooper of the San Jose Marital and Sexuality Center says it is affecting their lives.

These are the people who live out their fantasies online to the exclusion of real relationships.

Cooper, who has conducted a series of surveys probing the growing world of Internet sex conducted this study for MSNBC. “We know a lot of people are using the Internet for sexual activity. We need to figure out how people get in trouble with it,” said Cooper.

He examined a random sample of some 7000 male respondents to an online survey and father narrowed the group down to 384 who indicated they had problems with online sexual activity.

These respondents reported that they engaged in cyber-sex for an average of about 5.7 hours per week, or twice as much time as the rest of the sample. Spending more hours trolling the Internet’s porn sites and sex Chat Rooms was only one signifier of online sexual compulsion, Cooper said.

Most of those who reported cyber-sex addiction said they went online to relieve stress, rather than for entertainment or sex information.

“People do it again and again and again, instead of running or talking to their partner,” Cooper said. “There are alternate ways of relieving stress that are probably healthier.”

They also said they spent time engaging in cyber-sexual activities that they would never attempt in real life.

Cooper said his next survey, due out in several months, will take a broader look at cyber-sex compulsion and would include data from women – statistically believed to have a lower rate of cyber-addiction than men. Recent statistics show that between December 1999 and February 2001, the number of individual visitors to sexual sites grew by more than 27% to nearly 28 million from 22 million. Over the same period, retail sites showed growth at less than half that rate.

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