A new study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior has found that "younger millennials — born in the 1990s — are more than twice as likely to be sexually inactive in their early 20s than the previous generation was, and more likely even than older millennials were at the same age," the Washington Post reported.
Whaaaat a snooze-fest.
The study is based on survey answers collected from 1972 to 2014, with 26,707 participants in total sharing their sexual experiences. The answers revealed that 15% of those born in the '90s reported having no sexual partners after the age of 18, compared to about 12% of those born in the '70s or '80s and 6% of those born in the '60s.
The study is unclear as to whether these participants had any sexual partners prior to turning 18 and just stopped having sex, or if they were just virgins in the first place. Either way, researchers noted that any decline in sexual activity seems to contradict the "hook-up culture" narrative that is typically attributed to the Millennial generation.
"This study really contradicts the widespread notion that millennials are the 'hook-up' generation, which is popularized by dating apps like Tinder and others, suggesting that they are just looking for quick relationships and frequent casual sex," said study co-author Ryne Sherman, a psychology professor at Florida Atlantic University, in a press release sent to Mic. "Our data show that this doesn't seem to be the case at all and that millennials are not more promiscuous than their predecessors."
This isn't the first time we've heard the ring of the "millennials are prudes!" alarm. One study from 2015 reported millennials have a smaller average number of sexual partners (eight) than Gen X-ers and baby boomers (11). Also last year, New York magazine polled 700 college students and found that nearly 40% of them were virgins. This sample may have been a little skewed, as many of the students they interviewed seemed to have a lot of feelings.
"I think hooking up works for a lot of people, but I know I would not do well with that," one participant who prefers cuddling to sex told the magazine. "I think it's up to the person to know how they're going to react emotionally. I'm very sensitive. It wouldn't be worth the hurt, honestly."
The Washington Post also profiled a few celibate millennials this week in an attempt to understand why this seems to be a trend.
"To me there's more intimacy with having someone there next to you that you can rely on without having to have sex," one said. "I'd rather be watching YouTube videos and making money," added another. Other factors the Post suggested may be at play are the "pressure to succeed, social lives increasingly conducted on-screen, unrealistic expectations of physical perfection encouraged by dating apps and wariness over date rape."
Wow. That's a lot of reasons not to have sex! But which — if any — of them could actually be responsible for such a dramatic decrease in sexual activity?
At face value, the idea that millennials are spending too much time on the internet and not enough going out and putting their private parts in each other sounds suspect, to say the least. Yet in an email to Mic, Sherman offered a somewhat compelling case for this theory.
"For one, the internet provides easy access to pornography, which may provide an outlet for the release of sexual urges outside of actual sex," he said. "For another, the internet provides a whole host of ways for people to entertain themselves without being around others: Netflix, video games, social media, etc. It is possible that people are getting enough social contact through these mechanisms without actually being around others."
This takeaway echoes that of past researchers, who reported on a decline in sexual activity among British people (of all ages) back in 2013.
"We think modern technologies are behind the trend," Cath Mercer of University College London said in a press release at the time. "People have tablets and smartphones and they are taking them into the bedroom, using Twitter and Facebook, answering emails."
Listen, millennials: Your smartphone won't keep you warm at night, and your laptop will never be able to give you the unconditional love (and blowjobs) that a romantic partner can. So put the WiFi-enabled device down and go out and get you some already!