It's ten p.m. Do you know what your college student is doing…or looking at…online? You might be surprised. Do you have a sense of what they're doing behind closed doors? In some cases, it's surprising them. And it just might be connected to what they're seeing online.

The topic at hand is sex. And relationships––or lack thereof. And pornography. And it's the ways that sexuality, social networks, and porn are increasingly intertwined across America. For Internet Pioneers, questions of what's acceptable, what's publicly acknowledged, what's socially the norm when it comes to sexual behavior, are changing. Nowhere, it seems, is this more apparent than on the college campus.

Dating and relationships among college students have changed dramatically in recent years, and continue to do so. Students now flirt with each other through text messages, announce commitments on Facebook, and relationships are often developed via engaged texting. But the changes go even deeper, affecting Internet Pioneers' overall view of commitment and long-term relationships. It's likely that the shifts in attitude among today's college students will be reflected in the attitudes and actions of future generations of Internet Natives.

It may seem to parents of Internet Pioneers that serial monogamy is extinct. To the casual observer on today's college campuses, the traditional dating relationship––and its accompanying string of monogamous relationships––may seem to have gone the way of the dodo bird. At colleges and universities across the United States, the weekend ritual of dinner and a movie seems to have largely been replaced by no-strings-attached, spontaneous sexual encounters commonly known as "hookups."

However, though recent research reflects growing numbers of college students engaging in casual sex on a regular basis––in lieu of traditional dating relationships––studies also show increasing numbers of students who describe themselves as virgins or abstinent.

These conflicting results paint an ambiguous picture of college students' attitudes toward sexuality, as well as a shift in behavioral trends over time. The situation is further complicated by the influences of the Internet and social networking on cultural factors––such as gender, ethnicity and religious belief systems.

Shifting Attitudes and Behavior

College students can peer into each other's lives through Facebook, seeing revealing pictures and finding out what they did last weekend. Instead of waiting for the phone to ring, college students use texting as a mating ritual. Flirting is often done by text, and dates are set up through text messages. Internet Pioneers rarely make a phone call except to their parents. While many young professionals grew up on AOL Instant Messenger and MySpace, Internet Pioneers grew up on Facebook. This social media site opened to high school students in 2005 and to everybody in 2006, so most Internet Pioneers have had a Facebook account since they were young teens.

One area of the Internet that this cohort of college students hasn't really gotten caught up in is online dating. Student Torrey A. commented, "My mom found her second husband on an online dating website and that turned me off forever. In college, there are plenty of people my age to meet on campus, so I don't need online dating."

Her perspective is representative of the overall feeling of people her age, that real-world connections are a much better place to start when looking for a relationship or a hookup. College campuses provide plenty of connections that make it easy to meet someone.

Students interested in casual hookups used to hang out exclusively at bars, nightclubs and house parties, a challenging environment to many. Today's students can supplement their dating opportunities by scoping out flings on the Internet. Websites such as CampusHook, LikeALittle, DateMySchool and Craigslist are used with the express purpose of finding consenting partners.

An alternative version of online dating is getting connected with people in the real world but allowing their relationships to unfold largely over the Internet. Students rarely become Facebook friends without having a trusted connection, being introduced by a mutual friend, or meeting at an event. Once they are "friends," the door opens up to having a relationship mediated by the Internet.

The traditional obstacle of exchanging phone numbers or e-mail addresses has become moot, replaced by finding and "friending" a new acquaintance on Facebook. These relationships allow couples to get to know each other mostly online and start dating in person when they agree the relationship has potential. Today's college students find people with whom they are compatible without having to go on many in-person dates; however, this practice can also perpetuate relationships in which participants exhibit habits and mannerisms that aren't evident online.

Modern Courtship

This phenomenon of getting to know each other remotely is something that we once saw in couples who would be introduced and write letters back and forth as a form of courtship. The Internet is bringing it back in a different, more modern and accelerated form that includes photos and videos posted on Facebook and YouTube.

Advancements in technology have made a huge impact on the college dating scene. College students' casual approach to dating and reliance on easy-access technology to form connections has resulted in a generation that prefers short-term relationships to long-term commitments.

"These kids want a partner to be sexual with, romantic with and have fun with. But they are not looking for someone for the longer term right now."
Dr. Fran Walfish
(www.drfranwalfish.com), Adolescent and Family Therapist, Beverly Hills, CA

The Internet and technology play a large role in this shift in attitudes. "The regular use of computers has taught these young adults to expect a fast result," said Dr. Walfish. "They have been trained to expect a fast response, a fast engaging and a fast everything."

College students consider themselves exclusive and in a committed relationship only when both partners make the relationship "Facebook Official" by changing their Facebook relationship status to announce their boyfriend or girlfriend. A first-year college student says, "Facebook makes it so easy for me to find out if a guy I have my eye on is available or not. As soon as we're Facebook friends, I can check out his status and even see photos of him with his girlfriend if he has one."

The relationship status feature on Facebook also forces a couple to clarify their relationship, even if it's a confusing one. Couples can be "in a relationship," "in an open relationship," or the elusive "it's complicated" option. "Your Facebook relationship status really defines your relationship," said Caroline Radaj, a University of Wisconsin at Madison senior. "And there is huge pressure when you break it off with the person because it is now a very public thing."

Social networking and other online platforms can also be utilized to educate college students about the risks inherent in spontaneous sexual activity, especially when alcohol is involved. Social media presents an invaluable method of communication for healthy-sex education––such as to promote the use of contraceptives or increase awareness of date rape.

As a whole, U.S. culture has grown more open about sex since the 1970s, according to a 2010 article from the Kinsey Institute. A 1997 survey of 1,752 college students found that 75 percent of both males and females were sexually active. In contrast, by 2009, 90 percent of college students were sexually active by the time they reached their senior year, according to the University of Connecticut's College Health Advisor.

Alcohol also figures prominently in many college students' sexual reality. A 2011 survey from the University of Montana indicated that drinking plays a role in sexual encounters, especially spontaneous hookups. Psychology Today's Suzanne Zalewski notes that the span between ages 18 and 24 is associated with both the highest increase in heavy alcohol consumption and the greatest number of sexual partners. She suggests that drinking is used to ease communication about sex; in fact, some studies show that simply holding a drink is perceived as an indicator of sexual availability.

Alcohol and casual sex seem to go hand in hand. According to the University of Connecticut, a study of 446 undergraduates revealed that 49 percent of female students had unplanned, spontaneous sex as a result of binge drinking, as compared to 25 percent of non-binge drinkers. Events such as spring break, where college students gather and consume an average of ten alcoholic drinks per day, tend to encourage sexual encounters as an integrated part of the social experience.

The Hookup

Though college students commonly use the term "hookup," it doesn't have a clear definition. Students use "hooking up" to describe a range of behavior from kissing to intercourse, but a common factor in these spontaneous encounters is their short-term nature. In fact, the author of a 2011 study in "Health Communication" entitled Talk About 'Hooking Up' says the term is strategically ambiguous and notes that students use it so they can talk about sex without having to reveal too many details.

This deliberate ambiguity makes hooking up a difficult behavior to analyze. In an interview with USA Today, Leah, a 19-year-old sophomore at Harvard University, says that hooking up is intentionally vague and notes that it allows college students to satisfy sexual desires without entering into long-term, committed relationships.

Recent media reports and studies support the trend towards casual relationships among college students, especially hooking up. A 2011 research study by the University of Montana defined hooking up as "a sexual encounter between two people who are not in a dating or serious relationship and do not expect anything further." The study found that 54 percent of the students surveyed said that they had hooked up with someone outside of a relationship in the current school year.

A March 2011 USA Today article highlighted the trend toward hooking up replacing committed relationships, or at least preceding them, for many students.

"For the majority of students, they're not going to dinner and a movie unless they've hooked up with someone. Some physical interaction comes before the dating. Often dates happen after a relationship, rather than before."
Justin Garcia, Doctoral Fellow
State University of New York

The statistics surrounding college students' sexual behavior reflect a range of results. A Stanford University study of more than 17,000 students found that 72 percent of students had experienced at least one hookup by their senior year. Men had, on average, 9.7 hookups while women had an average of 7.1.

Some college students mourn the loss of a more innocent time, but others enjoy the more laid-back approach to dating. In some ways, it's hard to call the present arrangement dating, for many students never actually go on dates. Some students find that the lack of dating translates to fewer burdens. They no longer have to scrape money together to take potential partners out on expensive outings. These students can get all the sex they want without financial sacrifice. They have more freedom to see whom they want, when they want, without worrying about clingy partners. And the availability of birth control means that students can have multiple sex partners without worrying about pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. Kate at the University of Nebraska says that her female friends prefer to participate in hookups––not relationships––as a matter of choice and sexual inclination.

Goals vs. Relationships

In his 2010 book Premarital Sex in America, Mark Regnerus suggests that the increasing numbers of women who attend college––in 2011, nearly 58 percent of college students were female––has precipitated a shift in attitudes toward sex. The presence of more women on campus leads to more competition for men, which in turn results in briefer sexual experiences as well as increased tolerance for sexual encounters that take place outside of committed relationships.

Others suggest that college students may simply be focusing on goals rather than relationships. According to a USA Today report, many female college students concentrate on their careers and educations rather than on forming and maintaining romantic relationships. This necessitates a shift in the way they approach sex.

Research points to long-term relationships as a marker of health in young adults and argues that the shift to more open and casual sexual behavior is an unhealthy trend. Lasting relationships are rarely formed overnight, and they typically require more than the casual sex and short-term dating that today's students are drawn to. "Relationships require a give and take along with being patient, which is not something these kids have learned," explains Dr. Walfish. The Internet enables people to connect and form online relationships that become sexual before they actually know much about each other.

In 2010, the International Association for Relationship Research (IARR) released a groundbreaking study on the physical and mental impacts of romantic relationships on college students. The study followed a sample of 1,621 single and romantically attached college students. Participants were asked to provide feedback on physical and mental health problems in the 12 months leading up to the study, as well as their current body mass index (BMI) at the time of the survey. They also reported recent incidences of risky behavior, including binge drinking and use of illicit drugs. The researchers predicted that students in committed relationships would "exhibit better mental and physical health than their single peers" and that they would be "less likely to engage in risky behavior." Although differences in physical health were negligible, the researchers' predictions proved correct in regard to mental health and risky behavior. It appears that the extra support of a long-term partner may be enough to prevent depression and other mental health issues prevalent on college campuses.

Many students are aware of the mental health benefits of long-term relationships, but they aren't willing to rush headlong into commitments for which they are ill-prepared. Some students shy away from relationships for lack of time. Erin Thompson certainly has found this to be the case. A junior at the University of Nebraska, she has not been in a committed relationship during her time at college. "I'm way too busy for a boyfriend. In addition to taking a full course load, I have to work full-time in order to pay my tuition. Between studying, working and attending class, there's no time left over for dating." Although she would like to be in a long-term relationship at some point, she does not expect to be committed in the near future. "I'm fine with being single for now. I'd rather be on my own and happy than in a relationship and miserable." This cavalier attitude toward dating departs from the traditions of earlier generations, when many women attended college in hopes of meeting eligible men.

Theories on marriage postponement vary widely from one circle to the next, with everything from birth control to the poor economy cited as the main culprit. Some researchers believe that young women, realizing the threat of the glass ceiling, are choosing to push back marriage and babies in hopes of pursuing successful careers.

Today's students are more interested in getting into graduate school and scoring productive jobs. That is not to say that young women have completely cast off family life. They are simply postponing these aspirations for later.

"Overall, most of my friends are waiting to get married and plan to do so in our late 20s. I'm not going to school for four years to not have a career right away.
Caroline Radaj
University of Wisconsin Senior

This trend is reflected in current marriage statistics. In 2009, the United States Census Bureau reported an average first marriage age of 26 for women and 28 for men, and even in the past few years the median age for marriage has gotten older. This is well up from the average age of marriage in 1950, which was only 20 for women and 23 for men.

Erin Thompson counts herself among this group of high-achieving young women. Upon graduating from the University of Nebraska, she plans to attend graduate school and then pursue a career in project management. Marriage and children are not in her immediate plans. "It would be nice to have a kid while fertility is not an issue, but that would mean giving up on my career. I'd rather spend some time building my career before settling down."

As they graduate from college, Internet Pioneers generally believe that relationships and children will detract from their ability to fulfill the demanding requirements of their first few jobs. Having progressed through college with few––if any––sustained romantic relationships, Internet Pioneers are less eager than past generations to enter into these relationships post-graduation.

Dual Income Families and Stay-at-Home Dads

But most Internet Pioneers also expect that, when they do eventually enter into relationships and have children, both parents will hold jobs. Some would still prefer to have a parent stay home with the children but are not necessarily opposed to leaving the homemaking duties to the father. Of the 66.3 million dads currently living in the United States, a total of 105,000 identify themselves as stay-at-home dads. While this number may be low, it marks a significant increase from the parenting statistics of years past.

Men and women alike see the possibilities of successfully earning income from home and being able to be more involved with children. The number of stay-at-home dads will continue to increase. (A survey of 236 students at the University of New Hampshire found that most students did not hold negative attitudes toward stay-at-home fathers.) The Internet opens doors to run businesses from home or to work remotely, allowing one parent to work at home and freeing the other to work outside the home without needing to pay for child care.

Because Internet Pioneers have grown up in a culture in which divorce has been a norm, they are far more aware than past generations of the challenges of maintaining healthy marriages. They are, therefore, more likely to delay marriage and, once committed, be more focused on maintaining their marriage and proactively confronting and resolving marital problems.

Another indicator of the future divorce rate for college kids is a University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School's study, which found that one of the most important factors in predicting a marriage's success is the age at which people get married, with those marrying later having a higher success rate. And marriages in which both partners have college degrees have a lower divorce rate .

While having children is far from the minds of Internet Pioneers today, Dr. Walfish says the majority of these young adults are planning to have children. "No question, hands down. When I ask them if they want to be a mom or dad, almost every one of them says yes," she says, adding that most plan to start a family in their late twenties to mid-thirties.

Student Caroline Radaj said that she sees the same trend on her campus. "Most of us want kids, just not now." Another factor is that current culture is much more accepting of children born out of wedlock than previous generations. Radaj says that many of her female friends have a backup plan of having a child as a single parent if they don't find the right person to marry.

Abstinence and Virginity

To complicate the picture of college student sexuality even further, increasing numbers of students describe themselves as "virgins" or "abstinent." A National Center for Health Statistics survey found that almost 12 percent of 20- to 24-year-old women and13 percent of men indicated that they'd never had sex, as compared to 8 percent of both men and women in 2002. These findings stand in stark contrast to other statistics that indicate a shift toward casual sex.

Students who choose abstinence may do so out of religious beliefs, the influence of the abstinence-only movement or a better understanding of the risks associated with sexually transmitted disease. Some students describe themselves as abstinent or virgins, but participate in sexual activities other than intercourse.

However, others interpret the increasing proportions of abstinent and virgin students as the precursor to a backlash against more permissive attitudes, followed by a cultural shift back to more traditional dating relationships.

Long-Distance Relationships

Another Internet benefit for this generation of college students is their access to tools that make long-distance relationships more bearable and likely to work. Students have access to Skype and other types of video chatting that make it easier to stay in touch with a significant other who doesn't live nearby. This helps college students who are dating a high-school sweetheart attending college elsewhere and those who meet but have to spend time in different locations.

College senior Devon has been in a serious relationship since his sophomore year, and he explains that even though he and his girlfriend live on different coasts, they stay in touch online during school breaks: "We Skype every day for at least an hour, and sometimes we watch movies synchronized with each other so it feels like we're hanging out. She was abroad for a semester last year, and we even Skyped a few times a week while she was in China!" This helps preserve relationships when distance would ordinarily create stress and loneliness.

Because of the Internet, students are also more willing to enter into long-distance relationships. Rather than getting married right out of college and compromising their own plans for that of their spouses, couples are more inclined to part ways to pursue their own plans, staying in touch through video chatting. This is common with traveling abroad after college or going to graduate school in different cities. It also might contribute to a later marriage age among this generation of college students.

The Internet as Therapist and Counselor

While many factors shape young adults' views on relationships and marriage, none has grown so much in students' esteem as the Internet. Some students, too embarrassed to discuss personal issues with friends and family, instead choose to find the answers to their questions over the Internet.

This is especially true of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transsexual (LGBT) teens and young adults, many of whom still fear the repercussions of being outed on campus. Andy (name changed upon request), a Marquette sophomore, says that support websites greatly aided him as he explored the possibility of pursuing a relationship with another man. "I think that the Internet has been an amazing tool for giving the LGBT community a voice...the Internet has also made straight students more understanding of different kinds of relationships." In the months since he began a relationship with a fellow Marquette student, Andy has slowly begun informing friends and family members of his sexual orientation. While he still hesitates to come out in public, Andy acknowledges that people have "so far been overwhelmingly supportive" of his current relationship.

There are all kinds of websites available for LGBT teens, their friends and families. Some sites promote gay rights campaigns, while others provide information about local support groups. In recent years, a number of dating sites have sprung up specifically for the gay community.

Sexuality Beyond College

Attitudes among male and female Internet Pioneers in connection with pornography and human sexuality reflect changing mores. Studies indicate that young peoples' opinions of pornography and sexual behavior are shifting away from the views that their parents hold—toward something more permissive of explicit sexual images and more open sexual behaviors as a kind of normal expression of healthy libido.

Today's media, especially the Internet, allows users to easily access content that interests them––including sexual content––and then to seek out social networks that reinforce the behavioral cues and roles that the content promotes.

A 2011 report entitled "Influence of New Media on Adolescent Sexual Health" suggests that an individual's sexual belief systems are affected by both the online content they access as well as the discussion and exchange of this content on social networks.

Porn and sexual expressions related to it have also jumped from what was once primarily the printed page to the digital realm, and they will stay there and become more available and explicit. Several experts believe that easy access to Internet porn has led to changing attitudes about real-life sex.

According to USA Today, the accessible, appealing nature of websites that provide the opportunity for online sexual relations––through the use of avatars and webcams––allow many students to remain abstinent in the real world while having an active, albeit online, sexual life. In addition, porn eliminates any chance of being rejected by a potential partner, a guarantee that real life can't make.

In Search of the Sexual Picture (Or, Porn is Everywhere)

When it comes to sexual content, researchers are finding more and more that the Internet user of almost any age can seek out or stumble on an unprecedented variety of material. These days, porn isn't tucked away on the top shelf at the neighborhood newsstand. It's no longer something that has to be sheepishly purchased at the public storefront counter. Instead, sexual content awaits consumers within the privacy of their terminals or laptops, on their handheld wireless devices, wherever. No human-to-human transaction is required.

Jason Carroll, one of the authors of a recent Journal of Adolescent Research study on porn and college-age consumers of it, put it this way when talking to USA Today: "We're in an age of pocket porn." Pocket porn for almost no pocket change. In the form of short clips, online pornography is almost entirely free, and it has been for most of the lives of Internet Pioneers.

According to the study published in the Journal of Adolescent Research, some 69 percent (an ironic number) of college-age men at Brigham Young University in Utah reported that they viewed pornography more than once per month. In the same sample group, 10 percent of the surveyed women said they looked at porn with a similar frequency. On the other hand, 31 percent of the young women answering the researchers' questions said that they had looked at porn during the preceding year, compared to 87 percent of the men. Among men, 21 percent said they watched porn every day (compared to only 1 percent of the women).

Consider, for example, "Michael," a sophomore at an Ivy League school, who assumes "that I started looking at porn regularly younger than people who didn't grow up with the Internet, but not as young as some of my peers probably did. I began looking at porn when I could get away with it, around sixth grade. I still view porn now, and I certainly get the impression that my peers look at porn."

Michael gets that impression for a reason.

College as a Sexual Laboratory

Technology may be altering the basic DNA of human sexuality among Internet Pioneers and the generations of Internet Natives who will follow them. What we're learning about changing attitudes toward sexuality on the college campus promises to have implications for the world at large.

According to an article from the Columbia News Service, in 2005, there were some 50 universities in the United States that offered classes on the subject of pornography. In 2006, a Cornell University professor was showing both the porno classic Deep Throat and Paris Hilton's 2004 sex video A Night in Paris in a course called "Desire."

Furthermore, studies show that the majority of college-age males are consuming pornography frequently and more openly than ever before. Research also reveals much about college students' attitudes toward porn. For instance, female Internet Pioneers appear more accepting of pornography as part of normal sexuality than did the women of the previous generation. Almost 50 percent of the females at Brigham Young said that porn was an acceptable part of human sexual expression. By comparison, earlier studies suggested that on average only 20 percent of their moms were open to the idea of pornography.

Male students confirm the research through their real-life observations. Michael, the Ivy League student, says: "Basically every girl I've dated has been either indifferent or interested in my porn use. They have not demonized it like your stereotypical girlfriend."

The point is that the college women between 17 and 21 who participated in the 2005 study seem to be moving toward a more permissive view. In the same study, nearly 67 percent of young men said pornography was an acceptable way to express sexuality.

Ideology and Sexuality: On Campus and Off

Internet Pioneers' perceptions of sex on the Web are more complicated than simply more porn and less sensitivity to its presence.

Yes, young women view porn as more normal in their lives and the current crop of college kids started looking at porn at a young age. But the ubiquity of pornography, as measured through the lens of college students' concepts of human sexual behavior, seems to mean much more than that. The very nature of the Internet medium is apparently changing the content.

For one thing, the brand of pornography available online is, according to researchers and users, not the same kind as that found in the typical gentleman's magazine (Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler) of the last century. Pornography has become more explicit and extreme. Experts say it's also less universal in aspects such as storytelling, and assumptions of audience characteristics and interests may no longer be accurate.

While "sexting," the messaging of sexually explicit content, has become common among Internet Natives, it has been accompanied by educational programs and outreach initiatives to better inform young people about the long-term implications and dangers, as well as the laws, surrounding sexting. Facebook's Timeline also reinforces the message that images are online forever, not just available for the moment. A cynical marketing theme for Las Vegas reinforcing this message has become a viral meme: "What happens in Las Vegas, Stays on Facebook!" Las Vegas actually countered this "concern" with its own anti-social media TV ad campaign suggesting people who shared Vegas experiences and photos would be shunned by friends.

Ari Brown is a sophomore at the University of Michigan. He does not call himself a conservative––at least, not on the subject of human sexuality––and he characterizes the collegiate user's Internet perspective on online porn in the following way.

"The vast diversity of porn on the Internet, I believe, has given way to a whole new array of fetishes. Then, the Internet does what it does best and arranges them all to be easily available, and then the entire world is finding out that they, too, have strange fetishes. I would liken it to finding out that the sexual orientation binary or trinary is not so clear-cut. Everything is a spectrum."
Ari Brown, Sophomore
University of Michigan

"I think that people are a lot more open to things that might have once been seen as perverse," Michael, the Ivy League sophomore, said. "Just because they've seen it and realized it's not that weird. This could even be tied into our increased acceptance of gay relationships. We are a cohort that could easily stumble upon images of gay sex. This just might be connected to its normalization. I certainly think the Internet and even porn was helpful to friends who grew up realizing they were gay, and realizing they weren't alone."

So perhaps what is hard-core to one person is a fetish to another and normal sexual activity to another. Categories may be assigned differently according to how people self-identify as sexual beings.

What Critics Say: The Hard-Core Truths

Some experts say such easy access to sexual content has an effect beyond Brown's and Michael's suggestions that it simply makes people more tolerant.

Ana J. Bridges, a researcher in the Department of Psychology at the University of Arkansas,writes that pornography can have an unwanted impact on interpersonal relationships. Countries such as England and Australia have banned violent porn, Bridges points out, because pornography, especially when it contains violence toward females, leads to imitative behavior.

Offline Sexual Behavior

Accessing sexual content online can change offline behavior related to gender and sexuality. A 2005 study by Malmuth and Hippen found that males who viewed online material featuring sexually eager women were much more likely to display impersonal, dominant or aggressive attitudes toward sex. The study also found that some men were more likely to espouse negative attitudes toward women––and be more accepting of violence toward women––after watching violent pornographic material online.

When explicit sexual content is reinforced by social networks, teens tend to perceive themselves as sexually mature or even as sexual objects, which can lead to earlier––and riskier––sexual behavior. Exposure to online porn also tends to lead to more permissive attitudes toward sex, dissatisfaction with one's sex life and unreal expectations about others' sexual activities, according to the "Influence of New Media on Adolescent Sexual Health" study.

"I do worry about the normalization of certain things that might lead people to try things they don't really want to do or think they should want to do because they're common in porn…I think those are all things that people can genuinely be interested in, but I don't think they're for everyone or that people should feel compelled to try them."
Michael B., student

Some of the effects are positive. Engaging in cybersex––as eighty to ninety million Internet users did in 2010––offers a range of benefits. For example, online relationships allow young adults to relate on intellectual and emotional levels rather than just physical appearance. Plus, cybersex allows for sexual interactions that "reduce limitations of gender roles," allowing partners to feel a sense of autonomy.

Melinda Wenner Moyer wrote an article in Scientific American in 2011, in which experts challenge the suggestion that viewing sexual aggression leads to imitations or enactments of that aggression. Statistics from parts of the U.S. that have the least access to the Internet show a 53 percent increase in explicitly aggressive sexual behavior between 1983 and 2000. In areas with widespread access to the Internet reports of rape dropped 27 percent in that same period of time.

Other Cultural Factors Affecting Sexual Attitudes

Access to online porn is just one of many factors that affect college students' sexual attitudes and sexual behavior. Studies consistently show that cultural traits such as gender, religion, ethnicity and socio-economic status also wield significant influence on attitudes toward sex.

For instance, a 2011 study of 1,415 college students found that Asian-American and Hispanic students had more conservative attitudes toward issues such as homosexuality, casual and extramarital sex, and gender role traditions than did Euro- or Hispanic-Americans. For females in all groups, sexual conservatism was correlated to strong levels of religiosity or spirituality.

The Future

The use of online platforms and social networking will increase as today's teens grow into tomorrow's college students. As access to ever-expanding online and mobile applications increases, so will online sexual activity.

For researchers, policy makers, educators and others concerned with Internet Pioneers' sexuality, the jury is out on what the future holds. Many studies appear to reflect a trend toward casual, spontaneous sex as the new relationship––or more accurately, anti-relationship––norm.

Based on the current behavior of the Millennial generation, it is likely that marriage will continue to be pushed back (if pursued at all), as will childbearing.

Cohabiting will become the official next step toward marriage, whether or not the partnered couple is currently engaged to be married. And as LGBT, interracial and interfaith relationships gain more public acceptance, these non-traditional relationships will likely begin to come out more into the open.

Internet Pioneers are the first generation to engage freely and seemingly without emotional attachment in sexual hookups. As a society, we need to better prepare children and teens being raised with Internet and mobile technologies to appreciate the value and importance of lasting relationships. Parents, educators, and even online social networks and dating sites will increasingly focus on teaching interpersonal communications, problem-solving and relationship skills. Equipping Internet Natives with the tools needed for building and maintaining successful relationships will support them in their post-hookup years. When they do want to consider marriage, they will need to know how to turn a relationship into happily ever after.

Chapter 5: The Third Wave of Women's Rights Activism