Internet infidelity or involvement in sexual and romantic conversation online with someone other than their own partners is on the rise in India and social isolation is one of the primary factors responsible for it, says a study.
Married people are more likely to involve in online infidelity due to social isolation which includes lack of social support, boredom and loneliness, according to Garima Jain, Assistant Director, Centre for Victimology and Psychological Studies of Jindal Institute of Behavioural Sciences (JIBS) of O. P. Jindal Global University (JGU) in Haryana.
Jain, who presented a paper at the 26th session of Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) in Vienna, analysed data collected from over 11,000 respondents in India. The Commission acts as the principal policymaking body of the UN in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice.
“A self-administered survey was formulated and data was collected through both online and offline method,” Jain said, adding that two other factors, besides social isolation, could drive online infidelity.
These two are psychological distresses — including depression and frustration in primary relationship — and external influences, including peer pressure and desire to explore.
“Younger population is more likely to attribute external influence as the reason behind involvement in internet infidelity,” Jain said.
Psychological distresses are primary drivers of online infidelity among people who have orientation towards same sex (homosexuals) and married, Jain said.
“Internet infidelity has posed a very big challenge for marital therapists, counsellors, researchers and lawmakers,” she added.
People who get involved in online infidelity often deny the act cheating by claiming that there was no sexual act involved, Jain noted.
Men and women involved in online infidelity do not often consider themselves responsible and accountable for their actions. This proposes even a greater challenge and dilemma for counsellors, psychologists and therapist in treatment, Jain added.
The CCPCJ is held annually and regularly attracts up to 1,000 participants representing member states, civil society, academia and international organisations.