The influence of technology on human sexuality

The influence of technology on human sexuality

Technological progress has generated important changes over time, which are apparently imperceptible. However, when comparing different periods, the transformations that human beings have undergone in the way they relate to each other, communicate, behave, etc., are evident.

Likewise, it is notorious the adherence that has been produced towards technological devices, Internet, social networks and applications that become a primordial part in the life of each individual. The own acceleration of the times offers today to the individuals new spaces and, possibly, new forms of social dynamics (Pérez, 2010).

Sexuality, being one of the most important facets of the life of most people, has also been influenced by this technological transformation. This is what we will focus on next.

How technological changes have transformed sexuality

The common use of the Internet and the possession of mobile phones , along with the combination of both with smartphones, is occurring at an unexpected speed. In this way, people are able to communicate and distribute information immediately, provoking the intercommunication of people and a new model of social relations (Agustina, 2010; Ryan, 2010).

In addition, it is important to consider the consequences that technological progress can have in the long term, taking into account that it is increasingly rapid and unpredictable, as permeates different areas of life, including sexuality .

The following are recent changes in our way of relating and living, based on the relationship between new technologies and sexuality.

1. Internet

Today, the main source of information of all kinds is the Internet, an abbreviation of the English words Interconnected Networks, which means "interconnected networks" and refers to the union of all networks and computers distributed around the world (Arranz, Eskoriatza, 2007).

It is common for young people and adults to use this medium to obtain information about doubts or concerns they have regarding sexuality . However, in doing so, they may come across different types of information, which may be reliable sources containing consistent data or sites where the information is not accurate and causes more confusion in browsers.

2. Adult Content on the Web

Pornography, having free access to its content, can be seen by people of all ages, and thus, affect their sexual identity, self-image and interpersonal relationships .

According to Klaus Beier, professor of sexology at the University Clinic Charité in Berlin, 30% of children between the ages of 8 and 13 have already seen pornographic content, generating ideals that are difficult to achieve in real life, such as unrealistic sexual encounters and exaggerated expectations of the couple , also creating a preconceived idea of how they should act.

It is evident that the Internet has influenced the sexuality of the new generations, there are people who can distinguish between fiction and reality, using it as another source of eroticism without suffering any damage, however, this does not happen in all cases.

3. Grooming

Another technological practice that has had a strong impact on sexuality, mainly in minors, is Grooming, defined as the way in which some people approach children and young people in order to gain their trust, create emotional bonds and be able to abuse them sexually (Villacampa, Gómez, 2016).

Often, the groomer (person who seeks to harm the child) uses technological means such as social networks to initiate the bond , offering understanding and advice while obtaining information or images of the child in sexual or pornographic situations.

Obtaining such images is essential to control and frighten the child, with the aim in the future of achieving physical sexual contact with the child or introducing him/her to environments of sexual exploitation and prostitution.

4. Sexting

However, technology, by making new and diverse social practices possible, together with people’s search to express their sexual desire, gives rise to sexting, a term that refers to the act of sending texts, photographs and videos with content of a certain sexual level , taken or recorded by the protagonist of these, by means of the mobile phone.

Alluding to D.H. Lawrence’s phrase “Be silent when you have nothing to say, when genuine passion moves you, say what you have to say, and say it hotly”, Sexting can be useful in adult sexual life, since it expresses a game of seduction between two individuals, who at the moment of sending and receiving erotic images, texts or videos stimulate their imagination by increasing sexual desire.

This practice can be considered by some people as a sexual relation transferred to the screen of the mobile device . On the other hand, according to research carried out at the University of Michigan, United States, Sexting is becoming a regular part of courtship.

However, there are different risks in carrying out this practice, since material with sexual themes can end up in unwanted hands and be disseminated very easily and widely, so that the initial sender loses control over the dissemination of such content.

Bonding through mobile applications

In terms of how to initiate relationships, technology has a strong impact through different mobile applications, through which the romantic love of past centuries has remained there, in the past. Currently, a large number of people know each other virtually, love at first sight comes from a photo, you have a first conversation within a social network chat and establish links through a screen.

An example of such mobile applications is Tinder , a geosocial application (it specifies the geographical distance between one individual and another), through which, according to compatibilities about personality, interests, age and common friends, men and women are shown with different photos that are observed by the users and based on that they approve or disapprove of the other. Once two people approve of each other, the application puts them in touch so that they can talk and arrange appointments or meetings (Bonavitta, 2015).

According to Espinoza Rojas (2015), Tinder and other similar applications or platforms, seek to fill the gap produced by the loneliness of a society connected in digital networks , but not in human networks, in a society that has worn out the collectivity and superimposes individuality and distance from others.

Haptic technology

In addition to mobile applications, there are also devices based on haptic (touch) technology, i.e., that allow physical contact between human-machine or human being with another human being, in which a device mediates the relationship with the aim of producing real sensations while two people are at a distance (Bonavitta, 2015).

An example of devices based on haptic technology is Lovepalz, designed for technologically mediated sex. This instrument consists of two devices, for the man it takes the name of Zeus and for the woman, Hera. Both are designed according to the physiology of each sex. Zeus, like a vibrator with a phallic form and Hera with the form of a masturbator, imitating the vaginal cavity.

People can feel their partners’ sexual movement by simulating intercourse by transmitting in real time what a person is doing on a muscular level with their sexual organs. LovePalz is mediated by an iPhone application that will connect via Wi-Fi what happens in one device and transmit it to the other, finishing building a complete platform for virtual sex.

More technology does not mean better intimacy

As a conclusion, this type of technological applications and devices, enable communication with others without the need to resort to face-to-face relationships, reducing social skills and tools to generate a lasting emotional bond. The fact that the number of means of maintaining communication has increased does not mean that communication, contact and interaction between people has improved.

The ways in which people form bonds have changed over time. The way in which sexuality is lived as well as the stories and their contents have also changed, generating conflicts such as distrust in couples because of a “I like” in social networks, perhaps as a subject of an endless discussion to hear the “I like”, or the distancing in the couple because of the preference to satisfy their sexual needs only through digital media such as pornography or virtual realities.

Bibliographic references:

  • Angustina, J.R. (2010): Minor offenders or victims of child pornography? Electronic Journal of Criminal Science and Criminology. Retrieved September 5, 2017 from: http://criminet.ugr.es/recpc/12/recpc12-11.pdf
  • Arranz, J. & Eskoriatz, C.S. (2007). Internet, Pediatrics and the Web. Jornadas de Pediatría de Álava. Retrieved September 5, 2017 from: http://www.avpap.org/documentos/jornadas2007/internet.pdf
  • Bonavitta, P. (2015). Love in the Times of Tinder. Culture and Social Representations. Retrieved September 6, 2017 from: http://www.scielo.org.mx/pdf/crs/v10n19/v10n19a9.pdf
  • Espinoza, J. (2015) Reconfiguring Love: Technological Mediation and Affective Relationships. Question Académica magazine. Vol. 1, No. 45 (January-March 2015).
  • Pérez, G. (2010). Cybersocialization and adolescence: a new binomial for reflection in social education. Revista de Educación Social. Retrieved September 7, 2017 from: http://www.eduso.net/res/?b=14&c=129&n=367
  • Villacampa, C. & Gómez, M.J. (2016). New Technologies and Sexual Victimization of Minors by Online Grooming. Electronic Journal of Criminal Science and Criminology. Retrieved September 6, 2017 from: http://criminet.ugr.es/recpc/18/recpc18-02.pdf

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