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Children may also suffer as a result of increasing conflict between the parents or breakup of the marriage.
And even if the marriage survives, children may lack adequate parental attention when one parent is preoccupied with sex on the computer and the other is preoccupied with the cybersex addict.
A 44-year-old man married 26 years to a woman who became hooked on cybersex wrote: '' At first we had sex more than ever as I desperately tried to prove myself. I get strong pictures of what she did and lusted after, and I get repelled and feel bad.'' Women who become cybersex addicts may face even greater risks than their male counterparts.
Women, who tend to pursue relationships, are inclined to visit sexually oriented chat rooms rather than the pornographic Web sites that men prefer, Dr. As women become increasingly hooked on online sex, they are more likely to progress to off-line meetings, which can prove dangerous.
Children, too, often become victimized by cybersex addiction in a parent. Schneider noted, children can stumble upon the pornographic material left on or near the computer or walk in on a parent masturbating at the computer.
Several mothers in her survey were worried because their husbands surfed the Net while supposedly watching their children, who got to view the pornography and sometimes the masturbation.
Many companies now monitor employees' online activities, and repeated visits to sexually oriented sites have cost people their jobs.
And some people, including two physicians, have landed in federal prison for two years because they downloaded child pornography when authorities were watching, Dr. Still, most who pursue cybersex consider it harmless and safe to do so.
They're not risking disease or death,'' Dr.Mark Schwartz of the Masters and Johnson Institute in St. '' Sex on the Net is like heroin,'' he said.'' It grabs them and takes over their lives.The survey found that as many as a third of Internet users visited some type of sexual site.Projected to the country as a whole, this would mean that a minimum of 200,000 men and women have become cybersex addicts in the last few years, Dr. And, he added, because the respondents were self-selected and because denial of the symptoms of sexual compulsivity is commonplace, there are likely to be many more cybersex addicts than the survey indicated.'' This is a hidden public health hazard exploding, in part, because very few are recognizing it as such or taking it seriously,'' Dr. Young of the Center for Online Addiction in Bradford, Pa., wrote that ''partially as a result of the general population and health care professionals not being attuned to the risks, seemingly harmless cyberromps can result in serious difficulties way beyond what was expected or intended.'' According to Dr.
As with other addictions, tolerance to cybersex stimulation can develop, prompting the addict to take more and more risks to recapture the initial high, Dr. Online viewing that began as a harmless recreation can become an all-consuming activity and even lead to real sexual encounters with people met online.