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Streaming services such as Netflix could be contributing to falling fertility rates in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reports.
According to a survey conducted for the story, 25 percent of respondents said they declined sex in favor of binge-watching an online show within the last six months. When focused specifically on those between the ages of 18 to 38, that number jumped up to 36 percent.
The survey follows a 2017 paper on sexual behavior that found that streaming may be partly to blame for Americans having less sex than they did three decades ago.
The paper’s lead author, Dr. Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, told the Journal that the massive increase in content and lack of commercial interruptions could be making it harder to make a move than in previous years.
“Now, if you’re watching something streaming, the next episode is immediately available, and there are no commercials where you could look over and say, ‘Honey, you look cute tonight,’ ” Twenge said.
Dr. Megan Fleming, a clinical psychologist in New York, says the problem isn’t simply Netflix or even streaming, but all technology that demands our undivided attention.
“There has never been a time you could feel more alone with your partner right next to you,” Fleming said.
Even the phrase “Netflix and chill,” a slang term used when one invites another over for sex, has lost much of its prominence. Google Trends, which tracks the popularity of online searches, notes that the term began to die out as far back as 2015.
Some, including New York sex therapist Danica Mitchell, speculate that the growing number of high-quality series and movies has made looking away from the screen even more difficult.
A Netflix spokesperson, however, refuted the allegation that it was contributing to the falling fertility rate.
“We take pride in being part of the cultural zeitgeist, but getting credit for a decadeslong decline in sex is beyond even our programming abilities,” the spokesperson said.
Aside from Netflix, everything from economic worries to the widespread use of long-term birth control products are believed to potentially be contributing to American’s fertility slump.
Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.