Boomers Are Surfing Online Sex Communities
A study done in June 2015 by a Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researcher in Israel found that older adults are surfing online communities for sex information and discussions.
According to a release from the university, BGU’s Dr. Galit Nimrod and Dr. Liza Berdychevsky of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U of I) maintain that websites geared toward older adults “are providing this population with new opportunities to discuss and explore its sexuality.” The paper, which was published online in the Journal of Leisure Research, notes that senior communities offer notable potential for helping people cope with the three primary sexual vulnerabilities that occur in later life: health issues and life circumstances that affect sexuality, difficulties communicating with health care providers about sex-related problems and limited access to sexual health information.
The release quotes Dr. Berdychevsky, who completed graduate and undergraduate studies at BGU and is now an assistant professor in the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism at U of I, as saying, “Many older people preserve both a high interest in sex and a high involvement in sexual activities. The popularity of sex-related discussions in seniors’ online communities suggests that in a reality of limited alternatives for open and direct sex-related communication, seniors are finding channels to satisfy their needs for information and support.”
Dr. Nimrod, an associate professor in BGU’s Department of Communication Studies and a research fellow at its Center for Multidisciplinary Research in Aging, and Dr. Berdychevsky conducted an online ethnographic study – or netnography – in which they examined discussions of sexual topics in 14 online communities geared to adults with a mean age of 64.5. Seven of the websites were based in the United States, four in the United Kingdom, two in Canada, and one in Australia.
The researchers leveraged an existing data archive of all the boards’ messages for a one-year period and filtered the posts using various keywords related to sex. While sex-related discussion threads were a small portion of these messages, the researchers found that the threads with sexual content were quite popular, with some posts viewed as many as 5,000 times.
The anonymity of cyberspace enabled some seniors to overcome shyness or embarrassment and share their uncensored thoughts about sex for the first time, according to their posts. For people who received little or no sex education during their youth, online consultations with peers enabled them to expand their sexual knowledge and overcome obstacles to sexual fulfillment.
Seniors’ discussions of sexual subjects were lively and wide-ranging, the researchers found, with participants swapping opinions and information about topics such as age differences between sexual partners, taboos, same-sex marriage, pornography, prostitution, and the use of sexual aids, toys and sex-enhancing drugs.