Sex, social media, and COVID-19 survey


Project ID: 24685

Project title: How are people using social media for sex during a global pandemic?

Dr Emily van der Nagel
School of Media, Film and Journalism
Faculty of Arts
Phone: +61 3 990 34398

You are invited to take part in this study.  Please read this Explanatory Statement in full before deciding whether or not to participate in this research. If you would like further information regarding any aspect of this project, you are encouraged to contact the researcher via the phone number or email address listed above.

What does the research involve?

We are Dr Emily van der Nagel (Monash University) and Associate Professor Katrin Tiidenberg (Tallinn University), and we wrote a book called Sex and Social Media for Emerald Publishing. In the book, we examine the anxieties and opportunities around digitally mediated sex, including platform dynamics, social practices, and sexual identities.

We are now building on the research done in that book to ask how lockdowns and restrictions associated with COVID-19 have impacted the practices of people using social media for sex. Asking people about their personal experiences with sex and social media will mean adding important voices to the research.

As a participant, ensuring your comfort with a potentially sensitive conversation about sex is of paramount importance. You are welcome to remain anonymous throughout the survey, or choose a pseudonym. No survey question is mandatory, and you are welcome to either nominate yourself for a potential follow-up interview, or just complete the survey and end your participation there. You are free to withdraw your participation at any time, although please note that anonymous responses will not be able to be deleted once submitted, as they will not be able to be distinguished from other responses.

You’ll be asked some demographic questions, how (or if) you used social media for sex pre-pandemic, and then how you’re using it now. For example, the survey will ask, “if you used social media for sex before COVID-19, what did this involve?” and “if you used social media for sex for the first time during the pandemic, can you tell us about that?” We may follow up with some participants for an interview, which will take place on the platform, and at a time, that suits you. The follow-up interviews will focus on clarifying and extending answers given in a survey, so you’ll mostly be asked, “can you tell us more about that?”

Why were you chosen for this research?

You have been chosen for this research as you have a connection to the researcher through Twitter or Twitter retweets.

Consenting to participate in the project and withdrawing from the research

Consent for participation in this research involves filling out the survey on Google Forms, and potentially nominating yourself for a follow-up interview. Completing this survey implies your consent to participate in the research project. If you elect to complete a follow-up interview, you’ll be asked to include either an email address or a social media username at the end of the survey, and to fill out a short online consent form for the interview. Please note that the interview questions will stem from your responses to the survey, and some email addresses include personal information such as a full name and/or workplace. If you would like to remain anonymous or pseudonymous, you’re welcome to enter a social media username that doesn’t identify you. Interviews will be conducted by Emily on a platform of your choice: Zoom (as either an audio-only or audio and video interview), Discord, Google chat, Telegram, WhatsApp, Twitter direct messages, or email. The survey will take around five to 10 minutes to complete, and a follow-up interview will take 30 minutes to an hour, depending on your response to interview questions. You can choose to terminate the survey or follow-up interview at any time. Data from terminated surveys or interviews will not be used, and the responses will be deleted.

Possible benefits and risks to participants

The benefits to participants include a chance to reflect on their experiences of sex and social media during a global pandemic, and to have your own perspectives and practices included in research in this area. This research benefits the community by exploring a specific aspect of the global COVID-19 pandemic: the way people are using social media for sex during this sociocultural moment. The requirement for social distancing complicates physical intimacy, which might lead to new or different uses of social media for sex. This research has the potential to uncover best practices for social media sex during a pandemic, as well as complications and tensions that come with navigating platforms, adult content, relationships, and public health advice.

The survey, and potential follow-up interview, will include questions about the potentially sensitive topic of sex. There is a risk of you becoming uncomfortable discussing these topics.

Services on offer if adversely affected

In Australia:

  • beyondblue: Organisation with information and resources associated with depression and anxiety.; 1300 22 4636.
  • Lifeline Australia: Free, confidential, 24-hour telephone counselling service.; 13 11 14.


  • IMAlive is an instant messaging crisis centre:
  • CheckPoint is an organisation focused on the gaming community, but offers links to mental health services around the world, including emergency numbers and websites:


Participants’ responses may be quoted in research outputs, news articles, or blog posts. Participants are welcome to either provide a name or pseudonym to have their responses credited to, or to remain anonymous throughout the process.

Storage of data

Your survey results, and potential interview, will be recorded. The follow-up interviews may be conducted through text, audio, or video chat, and will be recorded in text, audio, or video format. Any recorded audio or video won’t be used in any publications, just transcribed quotes attributed to either your name or pseudonym, or the participant number you will be assigned if you choose to remain anonymous. Responses will be kept on Emily’s password protected computer, accessed only by Emily and Katrin. Data is to be deleted five years after it has been collected through the survey.

Use of data for other purposes

Data in the form of survey responses and interview transcripts may be used in academic publications including journal articles and conference papers, as well as news articles and blog posts.


The results may be published in academic journal articles or conference presentations. In addition to these traditional academic outputs, Emily and Katrin are also planning to include results in the publicly accessible form of one or more news articles or blog posts. If you would like to be sent a copy of these publications, there will be an option in the survey to enter your contact details.


Should you have any concerns or complaints about the conduct of the project, you are welcome to contact the Executive Officer, Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee (MUHREC):

Executive Officer
Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee (MUHREC)
Room 111, Chancellery Building D,
26 Sports Walk, Clayton Campus
Research Office
Monash University VIC 3800        Tel: +61 3 9905 2052    
Email:        Fax: +61 3 9905 3831  

Thank you for considering participating in this research project,

Dr Emily van der Nagel

Lecturer in Social Media
Communications and Media Studies
School of Media, Film and Journalism
Monash University, Australia

Associate Professor Katrin Tiidenberg

Associate Professor of Social Media and Visual Culture
Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication School
Tallinn University, Estonia

Begin survey