Are Millennials Really Having Less Sex?

According to a recent UK study, definitely. It appears that British twentysomethings are banging less than prior generations did — but is that representative of the rest of the world’s millennials too? University College London conducted a National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (“Natsal”) and found all kinds of fascinating facts about Britain’s sex lives, which are highlighted in this nifty video. One of the more surprising results is the discovery that 16- to 44-year-olds’ sexcapades have decreased steadily throughout the past 20 years. It found that men were having sex an average of 4.9 times per month, and women, 4.8 times per month. This is compared to last decade’s figures of 6.3 and 6.2 times per month, respectively.

These results seem to have people scrambling to find a reason for the shift. Cath Mercer, a lead author of the study, believes that modern technology could play a big part in the change. After all, we have social media, email and computer games to distract us, all in a nifty smartphone that we can take into bed with us, don’t we?

To be honest, I kind of resent that assumption. The rise of technology is certainly something to investigate further, but I don’t think it’s wise to consider it the immediate cause of any change in modern behavior. Plenty of other things have shaped the social climate in the past ten years. The emotional impact of things like the recession, terrorist attacks, increased awareness of STIs or even the divorce rate could be causing to spend a little less time between the sheets. It could even simply be that people are putting a greater focus on their careers over relationships, which I don’t think is necessarily an objectively good or bad thing, just a shift.

If technology does play a part in people getting less action, I think it would be by stop potential hook-ups or couples from meeting in the first place, rather than stopping them from getting it on in the moment. Smartphones seem to encourage people to stay in when they normally wouldn’t because they’re getting social fix online instead of in person. It makes it easier for us to be shy and avoid acting on crushes or going to a bar.

But beyond that, I don’t think I can believe this idea that people stopped having sex because “there’s always something better to do” via their fancy technology. I just find it difficult to grasp that scanning a Facebook newsfeed is really that much more fun for people than boning. There’s a reason sex still casts such a spell on mainstream culture even in this very jaded world. We’re so obsessed with it as a society because there’s something so in-your-face real about it that technology can’t replace.

We also have to consider that this survey was conducted via interviews, so it’s important to question whether participants told the whole truth about every detail of their sex lives. If there were an academic asking statistical questions about my sexytime, would I be completely honest? I would intend to be, but that shit is stressful! Readers, do you think technology is really behind our declining sex lives? Do you think these statistics for Britain are similar to what we’d find in other countries? I’m curious!

[Guardian UK]
[University College London]