The quality of a cybersex encounter typically depends upon the participants' abilities to evoke a vivid, visceral mental picture in the minds of their partners.
Imagination and suspension of disbelief are also critically important.
While it does not involve physical contact, critics claim that the powerful emotions involved can cause marital stress, especially when cybersex culminates in an Internet romance.In several known cases, Internet adultery became the grounds for which a couple divorced.Cybersex is commonly performed in Internet chat rooms (such as IRC, talkers or web chats) and on instant messaging systems.It can also be performed using webcams, voice chat systems like Skype, or online games and/or virtual worlds like Second Life.Amongst "serious" roleplayers, cybering may occur as part of a larger plot–the characters involved may be lovers or spouses.
In situations like this, the people typing often consider themselves separate entities from the "people" engaging in the sexual acts, much as the author of a novel often does not completely identify with his or her characters.
There are a number of popular, commercial webcam websites that allow people to openly masturbate on camera while others watch them.
Using similar sites, couples can also perform on camera for the enjoyment of others.
In some contexts cybersex is enhanced by the use of a webcam to transmit real-time video of the partners.
Channels used to initiate cybersex are not necessarily exclusively devoted to that subject, and participants in any Internet chat may suddenly receive a message with any possible variation of the text "Wanna cyber? " or a request for "C2C"/"C4C" ("cam to cam" and "cam for cam", respectively).
The exact definition of cybersex—specifically, whether real-life masturbation must be taking place for the online sex act to count as cybersex—is up for debate.