We all assume young adults are having more sex — more sex than millennials lounging at home with their fur babies, more sex than the couple who have been married for 15 years and definitely more sex than our parents. But what if that’s not actually true? According to multiple reports, Gen Z (the oldest of whom are 24) are living borderline celibate lives as one of the least sexually active generations in ages. So, what gives?
In recent years, there have been plenty of studies released on the subject — including this one from March 2021 that sought to get to the bottom of why fewer young adults are having casual sex. While a handful of them came to a few different conclusions, one similar pattern to emerge was the marked decrease in alcohol consumption for women and a significant increase in young men playing video games.
Related: 21 sex myths everyone thinks are true.
Why is Gen Z having less sex than previous generations?
Similar to millennials before them, Gen Zers are hitting milestones later in life and are more likely to live at home for longer, possibly delaying careers, long-term relationships and apartment rentals in the process — all of which lead to reduced independence and opportunities to expand their social circles.
According to another study, Gen Z are also less likely to get a driver’s license than previous generations of adolescents, further hindering their independence.
However, sex neuroscientist Dr. Debra Soh believes it goes beyond external factors, mainly that intimacy and human connection are falling by the wayside. As she writes for Newsweek, “considering that most social interactions for this generation — including hanging out with friends — happens through digital screens, in some cases racking up nine hours a day of screen time a day, there is no doubt in my mind that this technological disconnect is having a profound impact on sexuality.”
One positive takeaway that Soh notes is that teen pregnancy (at least in the US) have continued to steadily decline, likely thanks in part to the decline in alcohol consumption with Gen Z.
Soh also posits that Gen Z are also simply finding new ways to enjoy sex — online. Webcams and sexting could also account for why young adults are having less sex since most studies don’t take into account online sex when researching “sexual activity” patterns.