CyberWatch Column


Online Dating and Cybersex


Professor of Computer Information Systems

Norwich University, Northfield, VT

This is another in a continuing series devoted to how ordinary people can protect themselves when using the Internet.


There are thousands of sites on the Web specializing in helping people meet each other.  Dating service sites usually explicitly restrict participation to people over 18 years old, but most of them depend on possession of a credit card as their sole mechanism for authenticating age.  It is very difficult to exclude teenagers or a younger children from such sites if they have access to credit card numbers.

It might be an eye-opener for parents and teachers to type in “online dating” in the search field of a search engine such as Google < > and then visit a few of the sites to get a sense of what’s going on.

In addition to match-making, users of the Internet can also get involved in cybersex.  People chatting online can describe themselves or each other in sexual situations or interactions that are age-inappropriate and may be disturbing for youngsters.  Many divorces have resulted from cybersex when the one spouse gets upset about their beloved’s intimacy with a stranger, even via the Internet.

Practical Guidelines for Parents and Teachers:

Practical Guidelines for Cyber-Daters of All Ages:

“10 tips for online dating safely” < >

  • “Cyberdating tips from  7 things everyone should know about online personals” < >
  • “Cybersex and online relationships” < >
  • “Cyborgasms:  Cybersex amongst multiple-selves and cyborgs in the narrow-bandwidth space of American Online chat rooms:  MA dissertation” (1996) <  >
  • “Online dating advice from the experts:  information on how to play it safe.”  < >
  • “Safety tips for cyber-dating” < >
  • “Teen Advice Online:  Dating” < >