Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Happiness With Sexual Activity Correlates With One's Age

A new poll of young people (ages 13 to 24) jointly conducted by MTV and the Associated Press finds that "being sexually active leads to less happiness among 13 - 17 year olds" but more happiness in the moment for 18 - 24 year olds.

Of course, by "leads to", the folks at MTV and the Associated Press meant "it correlates with". So, the press release should have read, "being sexually active correlates with less happiness among 13 - 17 year olds, but correlates with more happiness in the moment among 18 - 24 year olds." The difference is important.

"Leads to" implies that sexual activity causes less happiness among 13 - 17 year olds.

However, there could be all sorts of other reasons why sexually active 13 - 17 year olds are less happy than their non-sexually active peers. For instance, it could be that unhappy kids start having sex earlier than happy kids (Perhaps unhappy kids are using sex to escape their unhappiness). If knowing why sexually active 13 - 17 year olds are less happy is important, then it is important to be straight about the difference between "leads to" and "correlates with".

Having said all that, I might add that if any kid were to ask me when they should start having sex, I would most likely tell them, "sometime between 18 and 24". That is, unless I knew the kid well enough to sense that he or she would be happier starting sex earlier or later than that age range. Yet, for most people, it seems a pretty good bet that sometime between 18 and 24 they will be emotionally and mentally mature enough for sex.

I do not know at what age someone will be emotionally and mentally mature enough for sex, but I do know that it's very difficult to be happy having sex if you are not emotionally and mentally mature enough for it.

4 comments:

stevo said...

Perhaps the unhappiness is caused by the teenage angst encountered after having sex. Why didn't he call me? Is she sleeping with him too? Am I too fat?

I'd be interest to see the stats as to when young people start to have sex. In my present locale the mean age is 20.

Paul said...

Good point, Stevo! Someone who is going to obsess over the questions you mention is not mature enough for sex.

Just last night I ran across a statistic that, in 2005, seventeen was the mean age for first sex in the United States. Unfortunately, it was late and I forgot to copy down the source.

Nita said...

I feel that what Stevo said could be right. unhappiness could result after having bad sex. also emotional repercussions which the child is unable to handle. I have written a post exactly on this subject - on the age of consent. the comments were really revealing.

Paul said...

Hi Nita! I am still trying to find your post on the age of consent.

I have read some studies that find a correlation between sexual activity and low self-esteem in girls who are around the age of 13 or so. Also between sexual activity and self destructive behavior in girls of that age.

I know there are precocious children who are way ahead of their years, but those kids are rare. For most, I suspect they would be better off waiting until their very late teens at the earliest.