Sex Ed

How Many People Are Using Their Smartphones During Sex?

December 13, 2013 by Justin Lehmiller


A recent survey of over 2,000 adult Americans revealed that, among smartphone users, 1 in 10 reported having used their phone during sex. Naturally, this made me curious about what people are actually doing with their phones when they’re between the sheets. Are they taking videos or photos? Answering calls or texts? “Checking in” on Facebook? Something else? I decided to conduct an informal survey of readers of the blog to find out.

First, let me tell you a little bit about the sample. A total of 206 readers of The Psychology of Human Sexuality participated (123 female-identified, 83 male-identified). The sample was mostly heterosexual (69.9%), with the rest identifying as bisexual (16.5%), pansexual (8.7%), gay/lesbian (4.4%), and asexual (0.5%). The average age was 31.8 (SD=11.9), with a range of 18-70. Participants represented 23 different countries, although most (62%) were from the United States. Overall, it was a pretty diverse group!

The vast majority of participants said that they currently had a smartphone (87.9%). Of those who had a smartphone, nearly one-third (32.6%) reported having used their phone during sex before! What exactly were they doing with their phones? Participants were given a checklist of behaviors and asked to select all that apply. These behaviors included: answering a call, making a call, reading a text message, sending a text message, checking something online, using an app, “checking in” on Facebook, taking pictures, taking videos, or “something else.” Looking at the results, participants reported 25 unique combinations of behaviors! Clearly, using a phone during sex does not mean just one thing.

Among those who had used smartphones in the sack, the most common behaviors were (not surprisingly) taking pictures and videos (reported by 71.2% and 69.5%, respectively). However, believe it or not, among those who had used their phones while “getting busy,” 27.1% had answered a call, 18.6% had made a call, 22.0% had read a text, and 11.9% had sent a text while they were having sex! Very few people reported checking things online, using apps, or doing something else with their phones, and not a single person reported “checking in” on Facebook during sex.

These results add to the evidence that smartphones are playing an ever larger role in our sex lives. So is this a good thing or a bad thing? It depends. If phone use is mutually desired and is used to introduce novelty or increase arousal (e.g., taking photos or videos, watching pornography), it could potentially be a positive experience (assuming, of course, that those photos and videos don’t fall into the wrong hands!). However, if phone use is not mutually desired and/or if the activities reduce intimacy (e.g., talking to and/or texting others), then it’s probably going to harm your sex life and relationships. Like everything else in sex, it’s all in how you use it.

To see results from previous Reader Surveys, click here. To participate in the latest Reader Survey, click here. Thanks to all who participated!

Want to learn more about The Psychology of Human Sexuality? Click here for a complete list of articles or like the Facebook page to get articles delivered to your newsfeed.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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