Could less screen time lead to more sex?
Smartphone, computer, TV, tablet — screens are a part of our everyday lives. Everything from work to grocery shopping to entertainment to dating happens with the assistance of a screen. A recent study from USC Annenberg found that the average American spends almost 24 hours a week online: since 2000, this has risen from 9.4 to 23.6 hours. We’re using the internet far more than we used to. But at what cost? Is the digital era driving a divide into our personal lives… and what about our sex lives?
A study published by the Archives of Sexual Behavior shows that in the 1990s, Americans generally had sex around 60 to 65 times a year; but by 2014, this had fallen to 53 times a year. Millennials and Generation Z were also found to have sex less often than any previous generation. Married people, a group that traditionally has more sex due to having a stable partner, closed the gap by having less sex as well; down to 56 from 67 times. The cause for this is unknown, but a popular theory is that we’re spending more and more time with our phones, and less time connecting with our partners. One doesn’t have to look very far to see how spending less quality time together could lead people to feel less amorous.
No one can dispute that smartphones and the internet have made our lives more convenient. There are thousands of time saving apps that we use every day to make our lives more manageable. So that should give us more free time — and that should mean more sex, right?
It seems that’s not the case. Maybe these conveniences make it more likely that we blend our work and home lives, meaning that it’s unlikely that we’re leading either one to the fullest. Though much of our lives are spent multitasking, trying to engage in two worlds simultaneously is an obstacle when it comes to personal intimacy. No one feels particularly frisky after browsing social media all day, or answering work emails in the middle of the night — and these behaviors, even when they have a valid purpose, can hurt our partner’s feelings, making them feel second best.
Digital devices are here to stay though; so what do we do to save our sex lives?
Experts say the answer lies in unplugging from our devices and plugging into one another.
While it’s unrealistic to expect people to disconnect from their smartphones permanently, setting aside time to spend with your partner — sans screens — can help foster the intimacy and closeness required for a prodigious sex life. We may meet our partners online now, but for intimacy to occur, we have to build physical and emotional closeness with them — and that means less “Netflix” and more “chill.”
Cutting down screen time can be a positive step, but it’s not practicable for everyone, especially if you’re in a long distance relationship. Another option to consider is using the technology available to foster closeness. We can’t cut digital connection out of our lives altogether, so why not use it in a proactive and erotic manner? Sending a text to check on your partner, playing online games together, and even sending a sexy video or watching one together are great ways of building intimacy when you can’t be physically close. The key to connecting, both online and face to face, is taking an interest in your partner’s life and sharing experiences — and we all want a little more of that.
Technology Review (2018, January 23).The average American spends 24 hours a week online. https://www.technologyreview.com/the-download/610045/the-average-american-spends-24-hours-a-week-online/
Twenge JM, Sherman RA and Wells BE (2017) Declines in Sexual Frequency among American Adults, 1989–2014, Archives of Sexual Behavior 46 (8). https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-017-0953-1
The Verge (2017, November 3). People are having less sex — maybe because of all our screen time. https://www.theverge.com/2017/3/11/14881062/americans-sexual-activity-decline-study-happiness-internet-tv
Psychology Today (2017, June 30). Protecting Intimacy in the Digital Era. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-social-net/201706/protecting-intimacy-in-the-digital-era
Psychology Today (2012, September 3). How to Enhance Closeness in Your Relationship. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/communication-success/201209/how-enhance-closeness-in-your-relationship