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Health & Sex

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Virtual Sex: Threat to Real Intimacy?

The online sexual revolution may be having an impact on real-world relationships.
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

As convenient as the drive-up window at your favorite fast-food restaurant, online sex requires little effort short of booting up and logging on. With its easy access comes an increasing number of people who are banging away at their computers for some electronic satisfaction. A survey of Canadian college students found that 87% of more than 2,500 respondents 'fessed up to technology-assisted sex via tools like instant message, webcams, and text message.

But what does the online sexual revolution have to say about the future of intimacy, relationships, communication, and honesty? Experts provide cyber perspective to those seeking sex in cyberspace.

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Noah Gurza is one of the founders of, Canada's largest online dating community for university and college students. He posted a survey on the Internet, with 2,684 students from more than 150 universities and colleges in Canada responding.

"Primarily it was an opportunity to gauge the views of students nationwide on their views on sex, their sex lives, practices, and desires," Gurza tells WebMD.

He posed questions like, how many times a week do you have sex? Do you practice monogamy? And the heavy hitter, do you have virtual sex?

Surprising Answers

"We were expecting a high number of students to respond to this question as having engaged in virtual sex," Gurza says. "A number approximating around 50% was our expected guess. We knew it would be high, given that students were filling this survey anonymously and as such would feel comfortable being truthful about their sexual habits."

Gurza was surprised to find 50% wasn't even close.

"Eighty-seven percent having had virtual sex was astonishing to us, but upon reflection it is very much a testament to the demographic we are dealing with," says Gurza, of the 18- to 22-year-olds who responded to the survey -- many of whom grew up in an online world. "Given the Net has infused many aspects of their lives, it is only fitting that this would be extended to social elements of their interaction and by proxy to the sexual dimensions of their lives."

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