Virtual sex

Virtual sex

Virtual sex is a form of non-penetrative sex where two or more people gather together via some form of communications equipment to arouse each other by transmitting sexually explicit messages. Virtual sex describes the phenomenon, no matter the communications equipment used. Also called hot chat.

Increases in Internet connectivity, bandwidth availability, and the proliferation of webcams have also had implications for virtual sex enthusiasts. It's increasingly common for these activities to include the exchange of pictures or motion video. There are companies which allow paying customers to actually watch people have live sex or masturbate and at the same time allow themselves to be watched as well. Recently devices have been introduced and marketed to allow remote controlled stimulation. Thus the distinctions between real and virtual sex may become increasingly blurred.

Sociologists have compared virtual sex to being a cyborg, because a natural human activity (having sex) is being mediated by technology. Thus, in some sense, the technology becomes part of the person's identity.

This is a relatively new phenomenon although there are stories of telegraph operators exchanging sexually explicit messages at the fin de siecle (end of the century).

As with many other aspects of human sexuality this one is controversial, with opponents branding it as a form of pornography and often trying to infer some correlation to pedophilia and/or child pornography. There is not yet any clear consensus about the psychological implications of cybersex. As with other forms of paraphilia cybersex is scrutinized as a possible symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Meanwhile proponents are quick to point out that any activity can be symptomatic of OCD and that cybersex between or among consenting adults is essentially no different from any other form or erotica, pornography or sexual activity.


The chief risk of virtual sex is posed by child molesters attempting to engage children in these activities and, conversely that police may be posing as juveniles in order to catch them. This is a different issue from child pornography, which involves the exploitation of minors in the production of pornographic material, rather than the exposure of children to such materials.

In any event the most significant risk posed by virtual sex is in establishing that all involved parties are consenting adults. In The Sims Online, an online roleplaying game, one scam was to entrap another player into having virtual sex with a minor, and use this for blackmail purposes.

Of course other forms of harassment and exploitation are possible via any communications medium and there are stories of people who have been victimized in scams by succumbing to their emotions.


Virtual Sex also refers to the genre of CD-ROMS and DVDs directed by Joone and released by Digital Playground in which the viewer can "command" a famous porn actress by selecting from a menu of explicit scenes.


  • Deuel, Nancy R. 1996. Our passionate response to virtual reality. Computer-mediated Communication: Linguistic, Social, and Cross-Cultural Perspectives, p. 129-146. Ed. by Susan C. Herring. John Benjamins Publishing Company, Philadelphia.

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