New York: Contradicting the widespread notion that millennials are the ‘hook-up’ generation, a new study has found that today’s young people are actually less sexually active than those in the previous generation.
Far from hooking up with multiple partners, many of the millennials – people born between the early 1980s and 2000 – especially the younger ones born in the 1990s are not having sex at all. “Online dating apps should, in theory, help millennials find sexual partners more easily,” said one of the researchers Jean Twenge, Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University in the US.
“However, technology may have the opposite effect if young people are spending so much time online that they interact less in person, and thus don’t have sex,” she said.
The researchers found that 15 per cent of 20- to 24-year-olds born in the 1990s reported having no sexual partners since age 18, compared to only 6 per cent of Generation X’ers when they were young adults. “This study really contradicts the widespread notion that millennials are the ‘hook-up’ generation, which is popularised by dating apps like Tinder and others, suggesting that they are just looking for quick relationships and frequent casual sex,” co-author of the study Ryne Sherman, Associate Professor of Psychology at Florida Atlantic University.
“Our data show that this doesn’t seem to be the case at all and that millennials are not more promiscuous than their predecessors,” Sherman noted.
The research team analysed data from 26,707 respondents to the General Social Survey, a nationally representative survey of US adults that includes members of the current millennial generation and its predecessor, Generation X. The researchers found that today’s young people are less likely to have had sex since turning 18.
Concerns over personal safety and a media landscape saturated with reports of collegiate sexual abuse might also contribute to millennials’ sexual inactivity compared to previous generations, Twenge continued.
“This generation is very interested in safety, which also appears in their reduced use of alcohol and their interest in ‘safe spaces’ on campus,” she said. “This is a very risk-averse generation, and that attitude may be influencing their sexual choices,” Twenge pointed out.
Other factors contributing to fewer millennials having sex could include the widespread availability of pornography, the historically high number of young adults living with their parents, the later age at first marriage, and increased access to instant entertainment online.
The researchers published their findings in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.