Cybersex is a virtual sex encounter in which two or more persons connected remotely via a computer network send one another sexually explicit messages describing a sexual experience. It is a form of roleplaying in which the participants pretend they are having actual sexual interaction, possibly sexual intercourse, by describing their actions and responding to their chat partners in a mostly written form designed to stimulate their own sexual feelings and fantasies. The quality of a cybersex encounter typically depends upon the participants' abilities to evoke a vivid, visceral mental picture in the minds of their partners; imagination and suspension of disbelief are also critically important.
Cybersex is sometimes colloquially called "cybering". Media used to initiate cybersex are not necessarily exclusively devoted to that subject, and participants in any Internet chat may receive an invitation to "cyber."
Cybersex is most commonly performed in Internet chat rooms (such as IRC or web chats) and on instant messaging systems. The increasing popularity of webcams has also resulted in an increase in couples using two-way video connections to "expose" themselves to their on-line chat partners, enhancing the act by giving it a more visual aspect. The act of exchanging sexually explicit email may also be considered cybersex. It is often used for the purpose of enhancing masturbation or as an introduction to arranging a meeting for sexual intercourse. While these activities are common, it is difficult to make precise statistical claims, and the prevalence of cybersex of course depends highly on the availability of Internet access. Similar roleplay and chat may be carried out over SMS.
Cybersex is different from phone sex in having a higher degree of anonymity and the ease of finding a partner. Cybersex often happens between strangers or people who have just met on-line. Unlike phone sex, cybersex is rarely commercial.
One approach to cybering is a simulation of "real" sex, when participants try to make the experience as close to real life as possible. Alternatively, it can be considered a form of role playing that allows a couple to experience unusual sexual sensations and carry out sexual experiments they can't try in reality. Amongst "serious" roleplayers, cybering may occur as part of a larger plot - the characters involved may be lovers or spouses, or a character could be raped to initiate a plotline. In situations like this, the people typing often consider themselves separate entities from the "people" engaging in the sexual acts.
Cybersex is often ridiculed because the partners frequently have no knowledge whatsoever about each other -- the person at the other end could be male or female. Since the primary point of cybersex is the realistic simulation of sexual activity, this knowledge is not always desired or necessary.
Debate continues among moralists on whether cybersex can be infidelity. While it does not involve physical contact, critics claim that the powerful emotions involved can cause marital stress or emotional separation, especially when cybersex culminates in an Internet romance. In several known cases Internet adultery became the ground for divorce.
There is also the separate risk factor of Internet addiction, which is perceived to be a cause of social isolation and loss of work productivity.
- Second Life A virtual world