More millennials use their phone for texting than any other generation, reports the Pew Research Center in a study on America’s newest age group, Generation Y. Sixty-two percent of millennials connect to the Internet while away from home. And, according to studies conducted by Harris Interactive for credentials management company Jumio, nine percent of Americans have been brave enough to admit using cell phones during sex.
So, should a modern 20-year-old woman be surprised when the peer she’s sleeping with stops in the middle of sex for a text session? When it comes to millennial bedroom etiquette, is cell phone use acceptable? Females of Generation Y say no way.
“My boyfriend answered his phone while I was helping him get off (manually) and he had a brief conversation with his mother,” said Louisa, a 24-year-old from Virginia. “I was really weirded out that he continued to wank it while talking to her. I mean, if we had stopped so he could take her call, it would have been annoying but normal. I could never touch myself while my dad’s voice was in my ear.”
Out of a sample of 24 American, heterosexual females who gave unabashed accounts of their experiences with cell phone use during sex — all 24 claimed that using a mobile device during the act is rude and offensive. Only a handful of women from the sample said that cell phone use was okay right before and right after sex, but never during.
Camille La Frere, a 24-year-old ESL teacher from the Washington DC area, described a time when the guy she was sleeping with stopped what he was doing, got up, put on his clothes, and left to do what she later found out was a drug deal.
“I just laid there,” said La Frere. “I was offended and confused. I didn’t [say anything to him]. I think I just sighed or gave him a look. It was actually the second time I had ever had sex.”
One of the most concerning examples of cell phone integration into the bedroom is the use of picture taking and video recording.
Olivia A., a filmmaker from the East Coast, hooked up with a guy she had been talking to for months online and through texting.
“I was giving him head and looked up for a brief moment to see he had his phone in his hands,” Olivia said. “I didn’t immediately get offended because [it might have been an] emergency.”
Olivia gave him the benefit of the doubt and continued to perform oral sex, only to look up a few minutes later and see that he still had his phone out. When she asked him what he was doing, he laughed and said, “I’m not texting, I’ve been taking a video this whole time.” She wasn’t pleased.
One could blame Olivia’s bad experience on the fact that she was getting down with a person she had just met from the Internet. But digital dating is more popular than ever. In fact, a study by The Huffington Post shows that one in four millennials have used Facebook to investigate a romantic interest, 18 percent of them have broken up over text message, and more than one in 10 have cheated on their partner through mobile communication.
Despite the prevalence of digital communication over face-to-face interaction, 57 percent of millennials still identify themselves as a “romantic” generation. In their study of Generation Y, Pew Research reports that 54 percent of millennials believe that new technology actually brings people closer together rather than drives them apart.
This calls into question the effects of cell phone use on overall intimacy. According to a millennial generation research review by the US Chamber of Commerce, it’s a common belief that millennials are considered to be masters of multitasking, and some of the studies have even suggested that Generation Y’s ability to juggle multiple tasks at one time is leading to an evolution in the brain that will allow people to process more tasks in rapid succession. This could suggest that millennials are capable of being totally into sex while being totally into tweeting simultaneously.
But recent discoveries in cognitive science would conclude this suggestion to be overly optimistic.
Proceedings of The National Academy of Scientists tested media multitasking and found that it’s a challenge for humans to take in several streams of information at one time. When you have to switch concentration from one task to another, your brain has to take time to stop thinking about the current task and then take time to start thinking about the new one. It may feel like you’re multitasking, but you’re really just switching back and forth from one task to another over and over again.
Jim Taylor, a professor at The University of San Francisco, explains that successful “multitasking” isn’t possible when it comes to two cognitive activities that require the use of the same part of the brain. In order for a person to truly multitask, the following criteria must be met: at least one of the tasks has to be instinctual or automatic and require no focus (like walking or breathing), and each task must use a different part of the mind.
So, in theory, a person could be in the midst of the primal, instinctual act of fucking while reading about dying children in Somalia on his Samsung Galaxy. This theory doesn’t appear to hold much support however, seeing as all instances in which the sample of millennial women describe their experiences, the cell phone user completely stopped what he was doing to tend to his digital device.
It should be noted that all millennials use social media more than any other generation, according to a Pew Research study on Internet and social networking. This drive to constantly check in on FourSquare or share Instagram photos is effecting their perception of privacy. Could a compromising video of Olivia be getting re-blogged on Tumblr this second? It’s actually very likely.
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reports that 56 percent of young adult women and 62 percent of young adult men have sent sexually suggestive messages, while 33 percent of young adults overall have sent or posted nude or semi-nude images of themselves online.
Could the fact that Generation Y connects sexual endeavors with online and digital activity have something to do with mobile devices being used during intercourse? Will the lines between sex and digital communication eventually become so blurred that it’ll be normal to share intimate moments with your friends, their friends, and their friends’ friends?
Maybe the following generation will be all right with mobile integration into the bedroom. But as for now, it seems that unless the phone’s vibrations are being used for or on the person one is sexing, a game of Words With Friends has no place in the act of getting down to business.