Saturday 18 November 2017

Young people are the 'least promiscuous since the 1920s'

‘Some experts say the findings could be due to social media’. Photo: Getty Images
‘Some experts say the findings could be due to social media’. Photo: Getty Images

John Bingham

The sexual revolution is over - according to an academic study that found evidence that today's young people are the least promiscuous generation since the 1920s.

Researchers who analysed findings from a long-running social survey from the US found that those now in their early 20s are almost three times as likely not to be sexually active as their parents' generation were.

The authors concluded that, contrary to popular assumption, those who came of age in the era of online dating apps such as Tinder are less prone to casual encounters than their predecessors. The study, co-authored by Dr Ryne Sherman of Florida Atlantic University and Prof Brooke Wells of Widener University, is published in the US journal 'Archives of Sexual Behavior'.

It uses data from the General Social Survey, a US study involving almost 27,000 respondents across several generations.

Among so-called millennials, born in the early 1990s, who were aged between 20 and 24 when the data was last collected, 15pc had not had any sexual partners since turning 18.

By contrast, when members of so-called Generation X, born in the 1960s, were asked the same question at the same age, the proportion was only 6pc.

The only other generation that showed a higher rate of sexual inactivity were those born in the 1920s.

"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," said Dr Sherman.

"Our data show that this doesn't seem to be the case at all, and that millennials are not more promiscuous than their predecessors."

The findings tally with British studies suggesting that young people today are not only less likely than previous generations to have casual sex but are also more likely to avoid other "risky" behaviours such as heavy drinking, drug-taking and crime. Some experts have speculated that it could be the result of social media, with young people simply spending less time physically in each other's company.

Official figures published earlier this year showed that teenage pregnancy rates in England and Wales have almost halved since the birth of social media as a global phenomenon.

The authors of the latest study suggested that the decline could be the result of a combination of the historically high number of young adults living with their parents as well as increased access to instant entertainment and even online pornography.

"This has very little to do with changing norms about sexual behaviour; the generations are just different," said Dr Sherman.

Irish Independent

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