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Cybersurvey: Internet sites ease sexual inhibitions

graphic June 14, 1998
Web posted at: 10:47 a.m. EDT (1447 GMT)

SAN JOSE, California (CNN) -- An online survey indicates that while men are the predominate users of sexual Web sites, young women surf them in higher numbers than expected.

During March and April, some 13,500 people answered 47 questions designed to probe their sexual habits on the Internet. They survey was written by Alvin Cooper, clinical director of the San Jose Marital Services and Sexuality Centre. Cooper analyzed the results of roughly 9,000 questionnaires.

Fifty-nine percent of the women who answered the survey were between the ages of 18 and 34, according to MSNBC's Web site, where the poll was conducted.

Cooper told CNN his findings indicate that people surf Internet sex sites for recreation or entertainment, not for sexual gratification.

"I think the Internet has the potential to revolutionize sexuality and I think it's having a major impact on sexuality in our society. And, I think it will more and more in the future," he said.

Cooper also found that five times more men than women surf sex sites.

Some Internet users say they feel more free to explore their sexuality on the Internet.

web site
Some prefer the Internet's anonymity to visiting a porn shop  

"It's a lot more private," said Web surfer Susan Taylor. "Nobody knows or needs to know what you're doing, so you can feel free to do whatever you want."

Male Internet surfers agree.

"You're not in a sleazy porno shop, somewhere where people are watching you in a seedy part of town. You're in your own private space," Joseph Fridgen told CNN.

Critics of the survey note that Cooper has no way of telling whether the questionnaires were answered truthfully.

"We certainly don't know how accurately people filled out information on this," said Richard Brandt, editor of Upside Magazine. "It's certainly a big part of Internet culture, because of its anonymity, for people to go on(line) and pretend they're somebody else. And it's even something that came up in the survey results ... that people go on and pretend that they're someone else. Something like 60 percent."

Cooper says his findings are preliminary and that he plans to continue studying sexual habits of Internet users.

MSNBC's Web site noted that the survey was nonscientific.

Correspondent Susan Reed contributed to this report.

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