Digital Technologies and Sex: Internet and Smartphone Influences on Pornography Viewing and Other Sexual Behaviors

Document Type

Book Section

Publication Date


Publication Title

The Oxford Handbook of Digital Technologies and Mental Health


Oxford University Press



First page number:


Last page number:



The Internet has revolutionized the way in which we consume and participate in sexual activities. Digital technologies are shaping the ways in which people interact with one another romantically and sexually. This chapter reviews some of the ways in which digital technologies are potentially shaping sexual behaviors, especially those of adolescents and young adults. Evidence suggests that technologies are facilitating increasingly more sexual activities among young people and adults, yet our understanding of these remains incomplete. The Internet has made pornography highly accessible to most individuals around the world, but the effects of frequent pornography use on individuals’ sexual beliefs and practices remain largely unknown. Sexting is also common among adolescents and adults, with some initial evidence finding that sexting was a partial mediator between problematic alcohol use and sexual hookups. More work on sexting behaviors is needed, particularly among vulnerable populations or groups at risk for exploitation. The wide use of smartphone applications designed to help users find casual sex partners are becoming more common, mirroring the increasing acceptability of having relationally uncommitted sex among young adults. More research is needed to investigate the influences of digital technologies on shaping the sexual practices of adolescents and emerging adults who may be spending increasingly more time online. Furthermore, more research is needed to examine both the potential benefits and risks associated with digital technologies that may facilitate sexual behaviors.


Digital technologies; Sex; Pornography; Smartphones; Hookups; Casual sex


Clinical Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences



UNLV article access

Search your library