Rafael Ballester Arnal is Professor of Clinical and Health Psychology at Jaume I University of Castellón (Spain), and he is the director of the research group "Health Psychology: Prevention and Treatment", and the director of the Research Unit on Sexuality and AIDS (Unisexsida) from 2003. His scientific interest is mainly focus on health promotion and more specifically in the field of sexual health. He has participated in more than 30 research projects, and is author of 20 books, 100 articles published in prestigious journals such as "AIDS and Behavior", "Journal of Health Psychology", "Journal of Community Health" or "Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy", and 250 presentations at national and international conferences. Many of these studies focus on topics such as sexual behavior among adolescents and youth, sexual prevention of HIV, homosexuality and homophobia, male sex workers, and sex and cybersex addiction, among others.
The information and communications technology (ICT) have changed the way we live and the way we behave. This is true in all areas of our lives and therefore sexuality could not be an exception. The integration of ICT in our sex life opens up a range of new opportunities but also new risks that pose a challenge to mental health professionals. In this symposium we offer four examples that may be representative of what we are saying. The first study focuses on the phenomenon of sexting among children and adolescents, a fact that raises questions about privacy and the vulnerability of the youngest members of our society. The second lecture will talk about cybersex as a voluntary behavior of our teenagers, what is the difference between adolescents and adults in terms of the reasons that lead to practice it and also in terms of contents they visit. And what are the features that distinguish a risk profile of a healthy use of it. Third lecture explain how new apps for smartphones have changed the ways of interacting men who have sex with men, how they approach and offer to other men. And finally we will present a lecture on how ICTs have also revolutionized the market for male sex workers, how they advertised themselves, what information they give and how ICTs have changed the reality of men who sell sexual services mostly to other men. All these studies clearly show how our sexuality has been modified by information and communication technology. Our professionals need to know this new reality in order to approach it, maximizing the opportunities offered and preventing new dangers to children and adolescents.