Even though kids are entering puberty earlier, they are taking longer to grow into adulthood, Twenge said.
It’s not just about sex. These young adults also are taking longer to begin working, start dating, move out of their parents’ home, settle into a career, live with a partner, have kids or buy houses, Twenge said.
The generation coming up after millennials, which Twenge calls “iGen,” aren’t even that motivated to hang out with friends, she said.
“iGen does those things significantly less than previous generations did at the same age,” Twenge said, noting that young adults these days would rather check out social media, play video games or text their pals.
“They’re choosing to spend their leisure time communicating using their phones instead of face-to-face,” Twenge continued. “When people aren’t face-to-face, they’re probably going to have less sex.”
All told, young adults now might decide that bingeing Netflix or posting on Instagram is more enjoyable than seeking a sexual partner, Twenge said.
“There are just more things to do at 10 p.m. than there used to be,” Twenge explained.
Even when people are together, they’re allowing their smartphones to interfere with their chemistry, Twenge added.
Many people on dates are guilty of “phubbing” — pulling out their phone and snubbing the person they’re with, Twenge said.
“What happens to face-to-face interactions when the phones come up? Not surprisingly, it just doesn’t go as well. It’s not as emotionally close,” Twenge said.
Linda De Villers, a sex therapist in El Segundo, Calif., agreed.
“It is really shocking to be in restaurants and see everybody’s nose in their phone,” De Villers said. “That’s bizarre. That’s about, I don’t want to connect.”
De Villers also wondered if the increase in depression among young adults might have something to do with this trend.
“Of course, lack of sexual interest is related to depression,” De Villers said.
The concept of asexuality also has become trendy, and De Villers wondered what role that might play.
“Asexuality has been quite a buzzword in the last five or six years or so. It tends to be worn as a badge of honor, I believe,” De Villers said. “That does raise a curious question about whether a number of people think sex is a hassle that interferes with other life pursuits for them.”