People Have Been Having Less Sex—whether They’re Teenagers or 40-Somethings
Among the young, social media, gaming and “rough sex” may contribute to this trend
By Emily Willingham on January 3, 2022
…A recent study evaluating what is happening in the U.S. has added to the pile of evidence, showing declines from 2009 to 2018 in all forms of partnered sexual activity, including penile-vaginal intercourse, anal sex and partnered masturbation.
The findings show that adolescents report less solo masturbation as well.
The decreases “aren’t trivial,” as the authors wrote in the study, published on November 19 in Archives of Sexual Behavior.
Between 2009 and 2018, the proportion of adolescents reporting no sexual activity, either alone or with partners, rose from 28.8 percent to 44.2 percent among young men and from 49.5 percent in 2009 to 74 percent among young women. …
The study itself did not probe the reasons for this trend. But Scientific American spoke with its first author Debby Herbenick, a professor at the Indiana University School of Public Health–Bloomington, and Tsung-chieh (Jane) Fu, a co-author of the paper and a research associate at the school, about underlying factors that might explain these changes.
…What might explain declines [in sexual activity] among young people?
FU: We need more studies to tell us why. But for young people, computer games, increasing social media use, video games—something is replacing that time.
During that period from 2009 to 2018, different types of social media emerged. This is always evolving, especially for younger people.
HERBENICK: We don’t expect there to be one explanation or one driver in these decreases. We fully expect that there are multiple things going on for different age groups, different partnership status, different genders. You don’t need those individual pieces to explain a big part of a notable decrease, but … each one [might] explain a percentage point or two.
Is there any contribution from increases in people expressing an asexual identity?
HERBENICK: We don’t know why more people are identifying as asexual, but I do think more people are aware of it as a valid identity. …
In your paper, you bring up increases in “rough sex” as potentially contributing to declines. Can you explain what you mean by rough sex, and how it could be playing a role in these changes?
HERBENICK: Especially for those 18 to 29 years old, there have been increases in what many people call rough sex behaviors. Limited research suggests that an earlier idea of this was what I would consider fairly vanilla rough sex: pulling hair, a little light spanking.
What we see now in studies of thousands of randomly sampled college students is choking or strangling during sex.
The behavior seems to be a majority behavior for college-age students. For many people, it’s consensual and wanted and asked for, but it’s also scary to many people, even if they learn to enjoy it or want it.
It’s a major line of research for our team: to understand how they feel, what the health risks are and how that fits into the larger sexual landscapes.
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(Link): Why Aren’t Millennials Having Sex Anymore? via Relevant Magazine