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Sexually Oriented Internet Sites Are Popular And Non-Problematic For Most People, But Pose Risks For Some

Eight Percent of Site Visitors Found to be Most at Risk

WASHINGTON-While approximately 15 percent of the 57 million Americans logging onto the Internet visit sexually oriented sites without any negative impact, these sites do pose risks for some people. Those individuals who spend large amounts of time on the Net in sexual pursuits may be at risk for developing psychological difficulties, such as sexual compulsivity, according to new study in the April issue of Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, a journal published by the American Psychological Association.

While it is clear that large numbers of Americans use the Internet for sexual pursuits-previous studies suggest that 'sex' is the number one searched word on-line-this survey-based study sought to determine who was using the Internet for sexual pursuits, where they were going on the Net, what they were doing there, and how it was affecting their lives.

The study found that although on-line sexuality appears to be a form of sexual exploration or recreation without negative consequences for most people, those who spend 11 hours or more time on line in sexual pursuits show signs of psychological distress and admit that their behavior interferes with some areas of their lives. Time spent on line for sexual pursuits may be an indicator of other problems that exist in users' lives, or may even create further dependence, according to the study's authors.

The study, a 59-item questionnaire, was conducted over a 7-week period during March and April of last year. The questionnaire was posted on the MSNBC Web site and was completed by 13,529 individuals. After discarding surveys which were incomplete or filled out by people under 18 years of age, a final simple of 9,177 respondents (all anonymous) was evaluated.

According to the study, men are the largest consumers of sexually explicit material on the Internet. Male respondents (86%) outnumbered f
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Contact: Rhea Farberman
public.affairs@apa.org
202-336-5700
American Psychological Association
29-Mar-1999


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