Sexual Addiction and Technology: What You Need to Know
Technology has changed and evolved so much over the past several decades, it’s almost hard to keep track. New advances have brought us smartphones, laptops, and computers that make life easier in ways we never could have imagined, from using Google to figure out the name of an actor in a movie to making reservations at your favorite restaurant without ever picking up the phone.
However, advanced in technology has its disadvantages as well. Smartphones, apps, computers and the internet make infidelity and sexual addictions easier than ever. From dating apps to webcams, temptation and the ability to cheat is constantly available.
Before we get too far into discussing technology’s role in sexual addiction and infidelity, we should define what “addiction” is.
Signs of addiction — for anything — include:
- Loss of control over use, including the inability to stop
- Negative life consequences, such as missing work or school, or negative relationships, due to continued use
- An ongoing obsession or preoccupation with the addiction
These signs are true for sexual addiction as well.
So how does technology play into sexual addiction? As we discussed earlier, technology has made finding ways to sustain a sexual addiction easier. Whereas someone addicted to sex or porn would have had to actively go out to purchase or seek out pornography or sex, now people have much of it available at their fingertips. Studies show the invention of the internet has caused an increase in sexual addiction. One study in the 1980s showed that about 3 percent to 5 percent of people considered themselves to have addictive sexual behaviors, in contrast to a recent study where 8.5 percent of internet users said they had addictive sexual behaviors. Only 1 percent of those said they were addicted to sex in the pre-internet world.
Some may be wondering — what’s the difference between a casual cybersex user and an addict? While there are safe, healthful ways to use pornography or online sex, it is important to recognize signs of at-risk behavior or addiction. Here are a few quick definitions:
Casual cybersex user — uses online sex or pornography intermittently and is driven by curiosity or novelty. A casual user still has a sense of self, and use of online sex or pornography is not sustained over time.
At-risk cybersex user — has begun keeping secrets, and might have a history for addiction, as well as reacts emotionally to stressors.
Addicted cybersex user — keeping significant info secret from loved ones, and appears to live a double life. This user might have a history of intimacy issues, such as replacing intimacy with porn, casual sex or masturbation, and might lack empathy.
Is your spouse addicted to cybersex? Or are you realizing you yourself have at-risk behaviors? The first step is to talk to a counselor about your feelings. This can either be one-on-one or with your significant other.