The Sexual Socialization of Millennials: Are we talking about sex?

Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


Current research on sex-related information available to millennials has focused primarily on the impact of socializing institutions and relationship dynamics on adolescent and adult sex practices, and the gender-biases embedded within the sexual socialization of adolescents. However, little research has been done on the various individuals, both within and outside of the nuclear family unit, as well as the social and technological mediums through which millennials share and receive sex-related information. In the age of technological innovation, does the Internet provide millennials with an alternative means with which to access sex-related information that has otherwise been limited due to factors such as race/ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, and gender-bias? “Millennials” is loosely defined as a person born after 1980, and approaching adulthood during a time of rapid technological change and the rise of mass media. This study consists of a 25 question short-answer survey distributed to 100 college students, 64 females and 36 males, ages 18-24. While recent literature emphasizes the importance of influences from parents, siblings, peers, and cultural factors, this study compiles all of the aforementioned variables to create a preliminary order of sexual socialization, which reflects how millennials rank various influencing factors on their sexual educational and practices. Consistent with the literature, millennials appear to perceive parental influence to be a significant influencing factor on their sexual behaviors. However, millennials more commonly seek peer communication through personal or online interactions, and the overwhelming majority of millennials appear to value these peer discussions more than any other source of sexual socialization. Despite the fact that the majority of sex-related information in mass media remains gender-biased, most individuals insist that they received unbiased information. Future research should focus on peer-influenced sexual socialization and the dynamics of these relationships that may supplement the limited and biased sources of sex-related information available to today’s adolescents.


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