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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Cybering - Scary or Safe?

Cybersex, computer sex, or Internet sex describes a shared sexual experience between two people (or more) connected via the Internet. I guess this is the next generation of phone sex. This experience, sort of like a fantasy, can be verbal, visual, or written, and include pictures, webcams, the use of avatars, or actual masturbation while participating. These experiences could be within intimate relationships, like lovers separated geographically, or with strangers within chat rooms or via instant messaging.

The safer part is there is no sharing of body fluids, and no disease or pregnancy risk. I suppose we should actually consider this is as alternative to early sexual participation given the only risk is getting attached emotionally to a stranger, but I have trouble imagining that I could encourage emotionally detached sexual expression for teens.

The scary part is that the participants are sharing very sexually explicit words, images, and in some cases vivid fantasies and role-playing situations that may be "beyond their years." The use of web cams also may give a sexual predator clues about identity.

Another great reason to keep computers in public spaces!

Photo credit: Leonid Mamchenkov
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.