Dating and Cybersex
M. E. Kabay, PhD, CISSP-ISSMP
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 < http://www.google.com
> 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:
- Discuss online dating with kids so they understand what’s involved.
- Ensure that kids understand why it is inappropriate and even dangerous for
them to masquerade as adults in online dating services.
Practical Guidelines for Cyber-Daters of All Ages:
- As you are getting to know someone online, ask questions about lots of things
you are interested in; e.g., hobbies, politics, religion, education, birthdate,
family background and marital history and status. Keep the answers you receive
and beware of self-contradictions.
- Be suspicious of anyone who seems to be too good to be true, such as agreeing
with your taste on every single preference or interest. Trying too hard to
please may mark a manipulative and potentially dangerous personality.
- Be honest about yourself; state your own interests and characteristics fairly,
including things you think might be less attractive than stereotypes and cultural
- If you get to the point of exchanging pictures, be sure that you see the
person in a wide variety of situations and with other people to make it harder
to send pictures of someone else.
- Talk to your new friend by phone; be suspicious of resistance.
- Don’t rush into face-to-face contact.
- Before you agree to meet, get your date’s full name, address and telephone
number. Be suspicious if the person refuses to give you a home number: could
they have a spouse or a current live-in friend they are deceiving? Call the
home number a couple of times to see if someone else answers.
- Be suspicious of anyone who tries to pressure you in any way, including
demanding money or insisting on a meeting before you feel confident of their
- Give your contact’s name, address and other identifying information and
the exact details of where and when you are going to meet to friends and family.
Do not meet anyone who wants to keep the location and time a secret. Meet
in a well-lit, public place such as a coffee shop.
- If you like your new friend a lot, have a background check done using a
professional service such as < http://www.whoishe.com
> or < http://www.whoisshe.com
“10 tips for online dating safely” < http://www.spankoz.com/online_dating_safety.htm
“Cyberdating tips from Dateable.com: 7 things everyone should
know about online personals” < http://www.links2love.com/dating_sites_links.htm
“Cybersex and online relationships” < http://chatting.about.com/internet/chatting/cs/cybersex/
“Cyborgasms: Cybersex amongst multiple-selves and cyborgs in
the narrow-bandwidth space of American Online chat rooms: MA dissertation”
(1996) < http://www.socio.demon.co.uk/Cyborgasms.html
“Online dating advice from the experts: information on how
to play it safe.” < http://www.joylight.com/dating.html >
“Safety tips for cyber-dating” < http://whoishe.com/safety.html >
“Teen Advice Online: Dating” < http://www.teenadvice.org/dating/ >