People who reported having higher rates of anxiety and depression were more likely to make use of emerging digital sexual technologies – also known as “sextech” – including uploading sexually explicit images or videos and visiting erotic sites. This is the main finding of a new study by the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University (USA).
According to the researchers, the results suggest that individuals with affected mental health may resort to sexual technologies such as way to experience temporary relief from your psychic suffering.
The team also explains that these new technologies, including virtual reality, artificial intelligence and shared online environments, already offer opportunities for users to new forms of social interaction and sexual fulfillment.
depression and anxiety
The study, published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, attended by more than 8,000 Americans and examined the associations between mental health concerns and online sexual behavior, especially in relation to engagement with new forms of sexual technology.
The findings showed that most of the participants who reported higher levels of depression were the same ones who used more sextech – this included men of all sexual orientations as well as heterosexual women. Among lesbians and bisexuals, depression was not a factor significantly related to the use of these new technologies.
In the same way, the increase in anxiety was linked to the increased use of various types of sextech for the general sample, men of all sexual orientations, lesbian and bisexual women. However, heterosexual women’s anxiety was not associated with the use of these resources.
What is the most used form of sextech?
The most used form of sextech was sending sexually explicit images or videos – that is, the sexting – reported by 30% of study participants. Almost one in five (18%) visited a “camming”, platform on which models (men and/or women) show themselves via webcam in live chat rooms.
Other ways of sextech the attendees got involved in included: play sexually explicit RPGs or online video games (14%), participate in a broadcast of “camming” (12%), accessing virtual reality pornography (11%), using virtual vibrators (9%) and exchanging sexually explicit messages with a chatbot (9%).
Within the sample, 79% of men and 51% of women reported using some type of sextech. In addition, 61% of heterosexuals and 83% of gay/bisexual participants used this type of technology.
unrelated to loneliness
The researchers also sought to analyze the common belief that online sexual experiences can be an alternative to social engagement. a behavioral response to feelings of psychological loneliness.
Contrary to this expectation, the study found that participants who reported high levels of loneliness were less likely to engage with sextech, different from the pattern reported among those with high levels of anxiety and/or depression.
According to experts, a common misconception is that people turn to the internet for affective or sexual connectionbecause they are unable to form one-on-one relationships.
The results suggest the opposite and show that online sexual spaces are not working as a “last resort” for those who are unable to have sex in real life.
Instead, it is likely that many users of these spaces have adequate social support and social networks, but they are turning to online sexual technologies for relief from their mental health.