New Research: What Exactly IS Cybersex?

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New research on the area of online sexual activity is providing insights into the relationship and potentially positive outcomes of this common act.

It's Magic

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Online sexual activity is an understudied area that is quickly expanding.

What exactly IS cybersex, anyway? Well, research shows that people really vary in terms of what behaviors fall under the category. Most people say that cybersex is an interactive, real-time activity that occurs between at least two people through the Internet.

Research has also pretty much ignored any positive outcomes of online sexual activity…and come on, there have to be some, right? Well, some researchers at the University of New Brunswick are interested in this and have been working on not only the definitions of cybersex (see Shaughnessy, Byers, & Thornton, 2011) but also the outcomes of online sexual activity and the relationship contexts in which the behavior occurs in.


Despite the fact that we know all age groups are using the Internet (women over 55 are the fastest growing Facebook user group), the minimal research that is out there tends to heavily focus on adolescents’ activities (such as sexting) and the risk associated.


No research to date has asked anything about the relationships involved with cybersex encounters. It is often assumed that the person with whom online sexual behavior is engaged in is a stranger prior to the encounter. Yet, researchers at the University of New Brunswick think this may not be the case.


Those University of New Brunswick researchers are currently recruiting participants who have ever used the Internet for sexuality and/or intimacy. Inclusion criteria includes:

  • You must have used the Internet for sexuality and/or intimacy
  • You must be 18 years of age or older

If you’re interested, the researchers ask that you follow this link ( to register and obtain more information. If there are any questions, contact the primary researcher at

The study was approved by the UNB Research Ethics Board (#2011-033/034)

Kristen Mark, PhD, MPH

completed her PhD in Health Behavior and her MPH in Biostatistics, both at Indiana University. Kristen is an Assistant Professor in Health Promotion at University of Kentucky. Kristen's research focuses on sexual pleasure, sexuality in long term relationships, sexual function, and women's sexuality.
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