Dating is in decline among young people, a major study has found.
Those born between 1995 and 2012, dubbed the “i-Generation”, are noticeably less interested in romance than their millennial predecessors, according to a new book by Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University.
Teenagers from this group have grown up with social media and smart phones, meaning they spend far more time socialising with one another online than they do in person.
The decline in dating corresponds to dwindling sexual activity among this cohort, Prof Twenge has found.
Drawing on surveys of 11 million young people and a series of in-depth interviews she found that teenagers in their final year of school are going out less often than 13-year-olds did as recently as 2009.
Prof Twenge also noted that 56 per cent of 14 to 18-year-olds went out on dates in 2015 whereas for Generation X and Baby Boomers, it was around 85 per cent.
Meanwhile, sexual activity among 14 and 15-year-olds has dropped by almost 40 per cent since 1991. The average teenager now has had sex for the first time by the time they are 17-years-old, a full year later than the average generation X.
The teenage birth rate hit an all-time low in 2016, down 67 per cent since its modern peak in 1991.
“Teens are spending an enormous amount of time, primarily on their smart phones and communicating with their friends electronically,” Prof Twenge told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme.
“What that’s meant is they are spending less time interacting with their friends in person, hanging out with their friends.”
Her latest book, titled iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood–and What That Means for the Rest of Us analyses on a series of nationally representative surveys of American youth.
Millennials, who were born between the early 1908s and the early 2000s, are characterised by their socially liberal views and for rejecting the attitudes of their predecessors, the Baby Boomers and Generation X.
The i-Generation has a distinct set of traits, which are heavily influenced by the fact that they have grown up surrounded by social media and smart phones.
Children of the i-Generation are safer but more mentally unstable than their millennial predecessors, Prof Twenge said.
Youth who spend three hours a day or more on electronic devices are 35 percent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide, such as making a suicide plan.
Since 2007, the homicide rate among teenagers has declined, but the suicide rate has increased meaning that for the first time in almost quarter of a century, young people are more likely to kill themselves than they are one another.