Young people are having less sex… because of passion killing technology according to new research.
Under 35s are putting digital technology – such as the internet, phones, social media and box sets – ahead of physical pleasure, suggests the study.
Around one in four 18 to 24 year olds – a third of males and a fifth of females – have not romped for at least 12 months.
Meanwhile, celibacy has doubled among 25 to 34 year olds in the last two decades – since the internet revolutionised our lives.
The findings based on almost 10,000 people in the US mirror a trend that has already been identified in the UK – and around the world.
It has serious implications as intimacy is known to protect against cardiovascular disease – and boost quality of life, say scientists.
Corresponding author Dr Peter Ueda, an epidemiologist at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, said: “The supply of online entertainment may compete with sexual activity.”
What is more, the introduction of smartphones may have made human interactions more difficult.
Dr Ueda said: “For women, sexual inactivity may also be associated with a greater prevalence of ‘hooking up’ – which has generally been reported to be less pleasurable.”
They may also have been put off sex by potential increases in sexual aggression directed towards them on social media.
Plausible reasons also include the stress of busy modern life in which leisure, work and intimate relationships “need to be juggled.”
Rates of depression and anxiety have also increased among young adults, while adolescents are increasingly postponing sex and dating, said Dr Ueda.
The study found in 2018, the proportion of 18 to 24 year old males having had no sex in the past year soared to 31 percent – compared to 19 percent in 2000.
Among female peers it went up from 15 to 19 percent over the same period, reports JAMA Network Open.
What is more, the same applied to 14 and 13 percent of 25 to 34 year old men and women, respectively – a twofold rise from the seven per cent at the start of the millennium.
But for those aged 35 to 44, sexual inactivity has remained the same – at around eight per cent.
The study found the number of younger people having regular sex is also plunging – especially among males.
Those aged 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 year old reporting weekly or more sessions fell from 52 to 37 and 65 to 50 percent, respectively.
It also dropped from 66 to 54 percent for 25 to 34 year old women.
Those most likely to be sexually inactive included men with lower income, part-time or no employment were more likely to be sexually inactive, as well as students.
But the analysis of data of 18 to 44 year olds using the biannual General Social Survey found sexual activity remained the same for the over 35s.
Dr Ueda said: “This study found sexual inactivity increased among US adults, predominantly younger men, between 2000 and 2018, with potential public health implications.”
His international team – including sexual health expert Professor Catherine Mercer at University College London – are concerned.
National surveys of over 16s have found the same happening in Finland, Australia – and Britain.
Sexual health and satisfaction are key components of health and wellbeing – improving life satisfaction and happiness, said Dr Ueda.
It may also lower heart rate and blood pressure, while reducing stress by fuelling the release of the ‘feel good hormone’ oxytocin.
Dr Ueda said: “Conversely, lower sexual activity has been associated with increased mortality and poor self-reported health.”
The analysis used data from 18 to 44 year olds who took part in the biannual General Social Survey.
Participants were asked “about how often did you have sex during the last 12
months?” Options ranged from “not at all” to “more than three times a week.”
Sexual frequency was categorised into none during the past year, once or twice a year, one to three times a month and weekly or more.
They were also asked how many sexual partners they had in the last year with choices ranging from “none” partners” to “more than 100.”
Professor Jean Twenge, a psychologist at San Diego State University who was not involved in the study, said time spent online has displaced face-to-face social interaction.
She said: “Between the 24-hour availability of entertainment and the temptation to use smartphones and social media, sexual activity may not be as attractive as it once was.
“Put simply, there are now many more choices of things to do in the late evening than there once were and fewer opportunities to initiate sexual activity if both partners are
engrossed in social media, electronic gaming, or binge watching.”
Added Prof Twenge: “It seems clear the trend toward less sexual activity has not occurred in isolation.
“It coincides with other substantial cultural shifts, such as the slowing of the developmental trajectory and the increase in time spent on electronic media.”
Last year a study of more than 34,000 Brits aged 16 to 44 found three in ten had no sex in the past month – compared to less than a quarter a decade earlier.
They were choosing to spend time on Facebook, smartphones and watching Netflix box sets instead, said the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine team.