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Netflix and no chill? Why millennials having less sex might be a good thing

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Sam Musguin-Rowe
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Remember when you were a kid, and your parents blathered on about how, "When we were your age, we made our own fun"? Turns out they weren't talking about Twister. Or Knock Down Ginger. Or rolling a tyre down the street with a stick.

Research in the US has found the number of 20-24 year olds admitting to having no sexual partners after the age of 18 has shot up to 15 per cent among those born in the 1990s, versus 12 per cent of young adults born in the 1970s or '80s and just 6% of those born in the '60s.

Combining the work of three American universities - and published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour journal - the study analysed data from the General Social Survey, that polls US adults about their sex habits. The upshot? Millennials are hooking up far less than those that came (stop it) before them. 

The news has come (STOP IT!) as a surprise to many, especially given the popular stereotype that the internet and apps like Tinder have redrawn the rules of sex - making intercourse as easy to arrange as it is abundant.

While the researchers stop short of drawing conclusions, they do note young people living with their parents for longer might be blocking their sex life. The apparent rise of "virginity pledges" is also acknowledged, whereas the research's co-author Ryne Sherman claims that "access to pornography may be able to relieve sex drive."

But that's not the biggest reason Generation Y is spending less time between the sheets, is it? The truth is we're just too goddamn busy.

Our folks might've settled down early in life, financially stable enough to pop out a child or two (thanks, Mum), but the fact is Millennials are tied up trying to stay out of overdrafts. A generation likely to be the first to earn less than the one before. Another first: at-home-with-mum-and-dad has become the most common living situation for 18-34 year olds. Perhaps it's sensible that, at a time whereby we can scarcely put food in our own mouths or get on the housing ladder, we're putting off procreation, with many foregoing sex altogether. Unlike oysters, it seems poverty is not the greatest aphrodisiac.

While the tabloids have turned bemoaning teenage pregnancy stats (which have declined heavily in recent years) and sneering at benefits claimants into a bloodsport, the opposite treatment is yet to be afforded to abstinent, industrious young adults that focus on their careers instead. Indeed, by this logic, a generation of youngsters showing restraint until such time that they can handle the rigours of parenthood - and boast the bank balance to match - should be applauded.

Of course, it's easy to poke fun at those eunuch Millennials. After all, they're far too distracted by Snapchat, Netflix or Pokémon GO to indulge in one of life's most basic and carnal pleasures. But this isn't the Swinging Sixties, or American Pie. Kids today can get to grips with the myriad intricacies of the female reproductive system by way of a quick Google search and, after observing such a thing, might actually prefer finishing that season of Narcos than pursue a meaningless bunk up.

Dare we say it, but sex might actually be over. Besides, have you seen what the new Samsung Galaxy can do?

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Sam Musguin-Rowe

Sam Rowe is a British freelance journalist and writer, based in London. Specialising in lifestyle and investigative journalism, Sam contributes features to a wide variety of magazines, newspapers and websites around the globe. Reporting for ShortList, Sam has met bikers fighting ISIS in Syria, computer hackers, World Cup winners, Arctic Monkeys, and the finest Donkey Kong players on the planet. Follow Sam on Twitter: @samrowe_

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