You're familiar with the expression "Netflix and chill," right? It started out innocently enough - a simple term for relaxing and binge watching your favourite show. But thanks to suggestive winky faces and a few viral memes, it soon took on an entirely new meaning and became a euphemism for having sex.
A new study out of the UK, however, suggests it could be having the opposite effect.
Researchers at Lancaster University have found that couples are now watching streamed entertainment much later into the night, with internet use spiking between 10pm and 11pm. Peak TV viewing time before the advent of on-demand services was between 8pm and 10pm.
While the study doesn't go so far as to conclude that sex doesn't follow, all signs point to it having a detrimental effect. Because if we're having to get up early to go to the gym before work or get the kids ready for school, we're less likely to get frisky between the sheets after 11pm, right? That's if we're to get our full and recommended 8 hours of sleep.
Although the study was conducted in the UK and doesn't specifically point to our viewing habits in New Zealand, a 2017 study shows that we are ahead of the worldwide curve in terms of adoption of digital streaming services.
22% of New Zealand consumers now list online streaming as their primary method of program viewing. This is equal to the United States and above the worldwide average of 14%.
And if that wasn't enough to get you worried, the latest Lancaster University research supports another rather alarming trend.
A 2015 study by Cambridge University professor and statistician David Spiegelhalter found there has been a marked decline in sex rates over the past 30 years.
His research, which was published in the book Sex by Numbers, found that sexually active couples in Britain between the ages of 16 and 64 were having sex, on average, five times a month in 1990. By the year 2000 that had decreased to four times and by 2010 it had dropped to three. He blamed the decline on the increase of "massive connectivity" brought on by the popularity of portable devices like iPads and iPhones and the proliferation of on-demand streaming services.
"The point is that this massive connectivity, the constant checking of our phones compared to just a few years ago when TV closed down at 10.30pm or whatever and there was nothing else to do," he explained. "Now people are having less sex and it's true."
He concluded that "at this rate by 2030 couples are not going to be having any sex at all, which is a very worrying trend!"
Worrying trend indeed. But before you start thinking 'that's in the UK, it doesn't apply to us', think again, because our birthrate in New Zealand has hit an all-time low. Latest Statistics New Zealand figures put the average fertility rate at 1.81 births per woman.
"The lower fertility rate may lead to reduced population growth if it stays below the 'replacement level' of approximately 2.1," the report stated. "The replacement level reflects the average number of babies that women would need to have over their lifetime to maintain the size of the population."
So, next time you crawl into bed to binge watch your favourite show, maybe think about turning your device off sooner and giving your partner a suggestive wink. The survival of our country depends on it.
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