NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — There was a time when young adulthood was fairly synonymous with casual sex. For the college-age crowd, sleeping around tended to go hand-in-hand with their first taste of life away from home. Now, a new study finds times are changing and it has nothing to do with the coronavirus pandemic. Researchers from Rutgers University say fewer young adults are having casual sex. So what’s driving this more reserved behavior? Less drinking and more video games.
Study authors add that casual bedroom romps are noticeably down among both men and women. Another major societal change that’s contributing to this dry spell is the fact that more people are living at home.
From 2007 and 2017, researchers find the amount of men between 18 and 23 years-old having casual sex during a given month dropped from 38 to 24 percent. For young women, that number dropped from 31 to 22 percent.
No booze, no sex?
The biggest factor driving the decline in sex for both genders appears to be a decrease in alcohol consumption. This is especially true among young men. The study finds less drinking accounts for one-third of the drop in sexual activity over those ten years.
At the same time, the rise in young men playing video games explained 25 percent of the change in behavior. The team adds that more young men living with their parents accounts for just over 10 percent of the drop in casual sex. Simply put, researchers say young adults are “staying as kids” for longer periods of their lives.
“The recent cohorts of young people adopt adult roles later in their lives and depend on their parents for longer periods,” study co-author Lei Lei says in a university release. “The declining engagement in casual sex among this age group could be another sign of delayed transition into adulthood.”
For young ladies, the study finds less drinking is responsible for about 25 percent of their declining sexual escapades. Strangely, researchers note that less alcohol is the only significant factor contributing to less sex for women. College-age women are using the internet more however, their increased gaming is not having the same impact on their sex lives that is does for men.
The odds of ‘getting lucky’ are going down
Study authors find the odds of young men living with their parents having casual sex are only 63 percent as good as guys who live on their own. If you’re a gamer, the news is even worse. Men you play video games daily cut their odds for sex in half in comparison to men who don’t game.
It also appears alcohol’s reputation of leading to sex will remain intact. Researchers say the odds of young men who drink daily having casual sex are nearly 5.5 times greater than men who don’t drink.
“The new generation of young adults became more individualistic and less social in real life, but more involved in social media and online gaming networks,” adds Lei, an assistant professor of sociology at Rutgers. “The changes in how young people socialize affect their opportunity to have casual sex, which often serves as a trial or rehearsal for long-term romantic relationships.”
The study did find that lack of money isn’t hurting anyone’s chances of having sex. Financial insecurity did not have a major impact on the odds of having casual sex. Nor did increased time spent watching television.
The study appears in the journal Socius.