Editorial: Internet sexualityAnna Sevcikova1, Kristian Daneback2
2 Department of Social Work, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
Dear researchers, colleagues, and readers interested in research on cyberspace,
we are delighted to present the special issue of Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace on Internet Sexuality. This special issue marks the end of a process that started in November 2012, almost a year and a half ago. When we launched the call for abstracts in late January 2013, we had titled the special issue “Sexuality and Digital Media” which we believed to be a broader approach to the topic. We hoped that this would generate a somewhat more diverse collection of studies than just those limited to the internet. The response to our call was overwhelming, and we received a much greater number of abstracts than we had ever anticipated. However, when we reviewed these abstracts and subsequently the full papers, we realized that each could fit within the topic of Internet Sexuality. With the benefit of hindsight, we should probably have used this title in our call for abstracts as some relevant and interesting studies may not have been submitted because of our choice to go broader. However, taking risks in social sciences may, by definition, sometimes lead to better results and sometimes not.
From the almost 20 abstracts that were invited to submit full papers, 9 made it all the way to publication (the others that for various reasons did not make it may hopefully be published at a later stage). The articles in this issue represent work from both Europe and North America. We have studies from Sweden, Estonia, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, and the United States (including some cross-cultural collaborations). The topics are diverse, but we believe that we are able to discern a trend towards sexting; sexual interaction/communication online and production of sexual images, and the relation between online sexual behavior and offline sexual behavior. We also notice that the predominantly quantitative work in the field so far has been balanced out and there is a healthy mix between both qualitative and quantitative approaches included in this special issue. We also see some exciting and new methods of using technology to collect data and to understand internet sexuality. In our opinion this issue takes us to the research front and displays the current “state-of-science” in the field of internet sexuality. Perhaps the use of “big data” which is already out there in cyberspace and which grows on a daily basis will help us expand and understand human sexuality in the future.
The issue of defining internet sexuality and how to measure it has been present for the almost 20 years that have passed since the field was established in the mid 1990s. In this issue, the measures used in prior research are analyzed and discussed by Eleuteri, Tripodi, Petruccelli, Rossi, and Simonelli. They critically evaluate the available instruments, point to their limits and propose new directions in developing new measures in order to enhance identification of online sexual problems.
Tiidenberg takes an ethnographic approach in her study on “self-shooters” and blogs, an increasingly more common activity on the internet that had not been available before the introduction of Web 2.0. By analyzing pictures and making interviews, this study shows how, thanks to the internet, users may voice their perception of body aesthetics or sexiness. The article enhances our knowledge about how individuals may maintain control over their bodies and how they are portrayed.
The powerful role of the internet is discussed in a study by Jonsson, Svedin, and Hydén who interviewed young women who sell sex online. They suggest that psychological health and communication style are important factors to consider, as these aspects affect the young women. However, perhaps the most important finding is that these young women claim the internet is the reason they offered sexual services. The results of these studies may be empirical examples of how the internet may change or influence sexual behavior.
The special issue also provides a closer look at users who buy sexual services through the internet. By using data from websites combined with interviews, Langanke, Månsson, and Ross are able to show how John’s purchasing of sexual services are not spontaneous, but rather well planned activities.
Several studies are focusing on the flow, or perhaps transition, from online to offline interaction and sexual behavior. Rice and Ross studies the process of meeting someone online to an offline sexual encounter. They find that the process is different from meeting someone in real life and that the process involves more steps. Some negotiations about risks are done online prior to meeting sex partners offline. This study shows that while the internet is part of everyday life, it is possible to chisel out the specific characteristics of the internet and how this may impact sexual behavior.
Sorbring, Skoog, and Bohlin explore the link between sexual and romantic activities and wellbeing among adolescents. They suggest that there is an association between sexual and romantic activities online and offline and that there are gender differences in sexual activities on the internet. Their analyses show that vulnerable girls are more likely to use the internet for sexual purposes. Another study by Kerstens and Stol presents findings about adolescents´ experiences with receiving and publishing sexual images on the internet. They found that receiving sexual images is more common than their publishing. They also showed that whether adolescents´ experiences with sexting are pleasant or rather bothersome depends on a variety of situational factors. Sexting is also the topic for Döring, who finds sexting to be more common among adults within romantic relationships, i.e., in the form of shared intimacy. She suggests that safe sexting should be taught to emerging adults instead of scare messages.
The last article of the special issue is a study by Byers and Shaughnessy focusing on attitudes towards online sexual activities. They found that most of their respondents were neutral or positively inclined, but that there were some differences between types of activities and that less traditional individuals were more positive towards online sexual activities than more traditional individuals. They suggest that their results may be seen as a sign of the growing acceptance of online sexual activities in general.
We hope that you will enjoy reading this collection of papers and that it may be useful for generating new research questions, but also to be of use for clinicians and educators who work with the issue in their everyday practice. Last but not least we would like to thank all the contributors, authors and reviewers who have made this special issue possible. We would also like to thank our Editorial Assistant, Lenka Dedkova, for preparing the online version of the special issue. It has been a great pleasure to work with all of you.
Anna Sevcikova & Kristian Daneback
Editorial and issue information
Anna Sevcikova and Kristian Daneback
Questionnaires and scales for the evaluation of the online sexual activities: A review of 20 years of research
Stefano Eleuteri, Francesca Tripodi, Irene Petruccelli, Roberta Rossi and Chiara Simonelli
Bringing sexy back: Reclaiming the body aesthetic via self-shooting
"Without the Internet, I never would have sold sex": Young women selling sex online
Linda S. Jonsson, Carl Göran Svedin and Margareta Hydén
Planning for pleasure: Time patterns in the use of Internet forums of female sex workers' clients in Germany
Harriet Langanke, Sven-Axel Månsson and Michael W. Ross
Differential processes of ‘Internet’ versus ‘real life’ sexual filtering and contact among men who have sex with men
Shelia R. Rice and Michael W. Ross
Adolescent girls’ and boys’ well-being in relation to online and offline sexual and romantic activity
Emma Sorbring, Therése Skoog and Margareta Bohlin
Receiving online sexual requests and producing online sexual images: The multifaceted and dialogic nature of adolescents' online sexual interactions
Joyce Kerstens and Wouter Stol
Consensual sexting among adolescents: Risk prevention through abstinence education or safer sexting?
Attitudes toward online sexual activities
E. Sandra Byers and Krystelle Shaughnessy
The 'Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace' is a web-based, peer-reviewed scholarly journal. The first peer-reviewed issue was published in September 2007. The journal is focussed on social science research about cyberspace. It brings psychosocial reflections of the impact of the Internet on people and society. The journal is interdisciplinary, publishing works written by scholars of psychology, media studies, sociology, political science, nursing, and also other disciplines. The journal accepts original research articles, as well as theoretical studies and research meta-analyses. Proposals for special issues are also welcomed.
The journal is indexed with EBSCO Academic Search Complete, the Directory of Open Access Journals, SCOPUS and the Czech Database of Scientific Journals.
Assoc. Prof. David Smahel, M.Sc. et Ph.D., Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Assoc. Prof. Kristian Daneback, Ph.D., University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Guest Editors of Special Issue "Internet Sexuality"Anna Sevcikova, Ph.D, Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Assoc. Prof. Kristian Daneback, Ph.D., University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Lenka Dedkova, M.A., Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Prof. Kaveri Subrahmanyam, Ph.D., California State University, Los Angeles, USA
Prof. Herbert Hrachovec, Ph.D., University of Vienna, Austria
Prof. Dr. Micheline Frenette, Universite de Montreal, Canada
Prof. Alexander E. Voiskounsky, Ph.D., Moscow State University, Russia
Prof. Michael W. Ross, Ph.D., DrMedSc, MPH, MPHEd, University of Texas, Houston, USA
Prof. Petr Macek, CSc., Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Prof. Olle Findahl, World Internet Institute, Uppsala University, Sweden
Prof. Jochen Peter, Ph.D., University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Prof. Veronika Kalmus, Ph.D., University of Tartu, Estonia
Assoc. Prof. Joshua Fogel, Ph.D., Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, USA
Assoc. Prof. Gustavo S. Mesch, Ph.D., University of Haifa, Israel
Václav Štětka, Ph.D., University of Oxford, UK
Andra Siibak, Ph.D., University of Tartu, Estonia
Birgit U. Stetina, Ph.D., University of Vienna, Austria
Lukas Blinka, Ph.D., Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Prof. Bente Traen, Ph.D., University of Tromso, Norway
Prof. Charles Ess, Ph.D., Drury University, USA
Prof. Dr. Ilse Kryspin-Exner, University of Vienna, Austria
Prof. PhDr. Jan Jirák, Ph.D., Charles University, Czech Republic
Prof. Vasja Vehovar, Ph.D., University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Prof. Dr. Larry D. Rosen, California State University, USA
Prof. Patricia M. Greenfield, Ph.D., University of California, USA
Prof. Peter K Smith, University of London, England
Prof. Nicola Döring, Ilmenau University of Technology, Germany
Prof. Kimberly Young, Center for Internet Addiction Recovery
Prof. Jos de Haan, Ph.D., Erasmus University, Netherlands
Prof. Zbyněk Vyb íral, Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Prof. Monica Whitty, Ph.D., Nottingham Trent University, UK
Assoc. Prof. Alfred Choi, Ph.D., Wee Kim School of Communication and Information, Singapore
Assoc. Prof. T. Ramayah, Technology Management Lab, School of Management, Universiti Sains Malaysia
Assoc. Prof. Neil Coulson, Ph.D., The University of Nottingham, UK
Assoc. Prof. Kenneth C. C. Yang, Ph.D., University of Texas at El Paso, USA
Assoc. Prof. Sun Sun Lim, Ph.D., National University of Singapore, Singapore
Assoc. Prof. Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D., Florida Atlantic University, USA
Assoc. Prof. Jana Horáková, Ph.D., Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Assist. Prof. Alexander Schouten, Ph.D., Tilburg University, Netherlands
Assist. Prof. Ewa S. Callahan, Ph.D., School of Communications, Quinnipiac University, USA
Assist. Prof. Regina van den Eijnden, Ph.D., Utrecht University, Netherlands
PhDr. Ing. Petr Soukup, Ph.D., Faculty of Social Studies, Charles University, Czech Republic
Alistair Duff, Ph.D., Napier University, Scotland
Janis Wolak, Ph.D., University of New Hampshire, USA
Francesca Romana Seganti, Ph.D., American University of Rome, Italy
Jeffrey Gavin, Ph.D., University of Bath, UK
Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt, Ph.D., University of Tartu, Estonia
PhDr. Radim Polčák, Ph.D., Faculty of Law, Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Michael Fenichel, Ph.D., New York, USA
Leslie Haddon, Ph.D., London School of Economics, UK
Monica Barbovschi, Ph.D., Babes-Bolyai University, Romania
Jan Sirucek, Ph.D., Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Masaryk University, Faculty of Social Studies
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