Melbourne, Oct 24 : It's not just the youngsters who are hooked on to the Internet for their daily dose of erotica, as an Australian researcher has found that older adults are a step ahead when it comes to cybersex.
Sociologist Sue Malta, at Swinburne University's Faculty of Life and Social Sciences, claims that her study provides evidence that older adults have a voracious appetite for the Internet and sex.
For her study, Malta conducted in-depth interviews with 45 older Australians and five older Americans about their romantic Internet relationships. The participants were aged from 60 to 92 years, and included those involved in online relationships as well as a smaller group that had first met face to face.
The study was aimed at analysing if technology had a role in influencing older people's relationships developed on the internet, and the longevity of such romances.
And the findings of the study completely turn over the commonly held views that older people are asexual and are not technology savvy.
"That old stereotype that you get to a certain age and you don't want to do it any more is not true," she said.
The findings suggested that online relationships between older people become sexually intimate faster and are of shorter duration.
A large number of older women said that the cyber romances suited their lifestyles because they "never wanted to live with anyone again".
"The biggest reason they gave was because they had no wish to become someone's nursemaid and housekeeper. They had already been there, done that," ABC Online quoted Malta as saying.
Most of the Internet romantics believed cyber-flirting was fun, but a precursor to a sexual relationship. On the other hand, no Australian participant approved of cyber-cheating.
There were a few people who indulged in cybersex, and one older woman said that she would only have cybersex with someone she was not going to meet and all her cybersex encounters were with men much younger.
Malta said: "She seemed to treat them like casual sexual encounters." But instead of having to go out to a club she could experience it all "from the comfort of her own home".
"Surprisingly the younger group was less sexually overt than the older participants," she said.
Such a phenomenon, according to Malta, is because younger people use internet dating in the pursuit for a possible life partner, and thus are more self-conscious about how they present online.
"The older group are not interested in that and can be more relaxed and go with the flow," she said.
Malta said that her study holds possible implications for social policy.
"A lot of the participants had health issues and found sex and intimacy was one of the best things for them and gave them increased vitality. If older people are sexually active and it is good for their health then how do we design nursing homes to cater for that, because if you don't you are doing them a disservice," she said.
The study will be presented at The Australian Sociological Association conference.