Cybersex is a growing concern in the Australian workplace with more people seeking treatment for the addiction than ever before, according to research from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne.
Doctoral candidate Marcus Squirrell surveyed more than 1300 internet users who regularly frequented online sex, fetish and swinging sites to engage in online sexual activities, which included accessing erotic pictures, as well as interacting with others using chat rooms and webcams.
Squirrell said a "fairly large percentage" of respondents admitted to taking part in cybersex activities outside the comfort of their home.
"A lot of people who have got problems with compulsive online sexual behaviour can't actually control themselves and end up doing it at work as well.
"These people are putting so much energy into cybersex - in some cases up to 10 hours a day - that it is detracting from their relationship with their partner. It can also adversely affect other areas of their lives, such as their education and employment," Squirrell told iTnews.
Breaking an addiction to cybersex can cause similar side-effects to those experienced by smokers attempting to quit, explained Squirrell.
"They typically experience withdrawal symptoms," he said. "They often become irritable and angry and usually very anxious. They become preoccupied with not being able to access it.
"People actually use cybersex to regulate their mood so when they're stressed they jump on the internet, look at porn for a while or chat with people online. So when they stop doing it they have all sorts of difficulties," he said.
More than half the participants who engaged in cybersex were married or in a serious relationship, and 65 percent admitted to meeting their cybersex partners offline.
The study also found the typical cybersex participant was male, well-educated 41 years old.
Squirrell hoped the study would help psychologists better understand the psychological characteristics of cybersex addicts and improve treatment.