Virtual sex is sexual activity where two or more people - or one person and a virtual character - gather together via some form of communications equipment to arouse each other, often by the means of transmitting sexually explicit messages. Virtual sex describes the phenomenon, no matter the communications equipment used.
- Digital remote stimulation involves the use of directed energy, biochips, and/or cybernetic implants to stimulate a man or woman in the genital area from a distance
- Camming is virtual sex that is over video chat from services that provide it.
- Cybersex is virtual sex typed over the Internet, including IRC, e-mail, instant messaging, chat rooms, webcam, role-playing games, etc.
- Phone sex is virtual sex spoken over the telephone.
- Sexting is virtual sex sent via mobile phone network text messaging. The advent of cell phones with built-in digital cameras has undoubtedly added new dimensions to these activities.
- Modern consumer virtual reality headsets allow users to engage in virtual sex through simulated environments, either with other humans or with virtual characters.
These terms and practices continuously evolve as technologies and methods of communication change.
Increases in Internet connectivity, bandwidth availability, and the proliferation of webcams have also had implications for virtual sex enthusiasts. It's increasingly common for these activities to include the exchange of pictures or motion video. There are companies which allow paying customers to actually watch people have live sex or masturbate and at the same time allow themselves to be watched as well. Recently, devices have been introduced and marketed to allow remote-controlled stimulation.
An important part of partaking in virtual sex, or sexual acts, would be consent. The ethics of sexting are already being established by young people for whom consent figures as a critical concept. Distinctions between positive and negative experiences of sexting are mostly dependent on whether consent was given to make and share the images. As of 2015[update], it is illegal for any person's under the age of 18 to consent to any form of virtual sex (only if nude pictures are sent ), because images of minors are considered child pornography.
- Zucker Saltz, Lizzie (2009). Crafting Romance. Athens: Athens Institute for Contemporary Art. p. 5.
Cindy Hinant's telephone sculptures tease out the sexually suggestive language of telephone services that insist on denying the separation of the speakers...Here the objects of communication-the now outdated landline telephones-take on the physicality of human relationships, not against technology's domination but by and through it. As we shift over to cellular phones, Hinant's sculptures are both nostalgic for the materiality of older devices and instructive as to the ways in which we might preserve for our modern age what Jean Baudrillard called the 'ecstasy of communication.'
- Gray, Kate (27 February 2018). "This VR Girlfriend Simulator Is About More Than Cybersex". Kotaku. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
- Lunceford, Brett (2010). "Sex in the Digital Age: Media Ecology and Megan's Law". Explorations in Media Ecology. 9 (4): 239–44.
- Kath Albury & Kate Crawford (2012): Sexting, consent and young people's ethics: Beyond Megan's Story, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 26:3, 463-473
- Deuel, Nancy R. 1996. Our passionate response to virtual reality. Computer-mediated Communication: Linguistic, Social, and Cross-Cultural Perspectives, p. 129-146. Ed. by Susan C. Herring. John Benjamins Publishing Company, Philadelphia.
- Lunceford, Brett. “Virtual Sex.” In Encyclopedia of Gender in Media, edited by Mary Kosut. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2012.