Are TV and cell phones harming your sex life? Here’s why too much time in front of your devices can cause your libido to tank.
Last Updated: 04/13/2023
Electronic devices make our lives easier or more entertaining, but watching too much TV or staying glued to your smartphone until bedtime can cause your sexual endurance levels to tank. Regardless of whether you’re addicted to your phone or television or you just spend a lot of time using those devices before bedtime, your sex life can pay the price.
In part seven of our 90-Day Challenge—where we ask men to change one aspect of their lifestyles each week in order to have more satisfying sex—we’re suggesting that you spend less time at night watching TV, your tablet, or your phone and more time under the sheets with your partner. Here’s why binge-watching before bedtime or staying riveted to social media or YouTube accounts can harm a man’s sex life.
Research shows that men who watch the most television are more likely to have low sexual stamina. In one study of 31,742 men ages 53 to 90, television viewing time was one of several risk factors for sexual decline, along with lack of exercise, obesity, smoking, and drinking alcohol.1
In another survey of 4 million people in 80 lower-income and middle-income countries, people who owned a television were 6% less likely to have had sex during the last week compared to couples who didn’t own a TV. 2 The finding is statistically significant, but researchers believe that’s a conservative estimate.
The study was conducted in 2010, the year when the iPad first appeared on the market. If the study was repeated today, that 6% would likely be a lot higher. Today, many people are spending even more time watching television shows, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and YouTube videos on their iPads or other tablets, regardless of whether they watch TV or not.
There isn’t a lot of research showing the tipping point for TV watching and sexual decline. But one study found that men who spent five or more hours per day using TV/video or computers were nearly three times more likely to suffer from sexual decline than men who spent less than an hour performing the same activities.3
Cell phone addiction, which includes spending too much time interacting with your social media accounts on your smartphone, can affect your sexual function. One study found that men who compulsively checked their social media accounts had worse sexual decline, less desire, were dissatisfied with intercourse, had less overall sexual dissatisfaction, and more difficulties having orgasms compared with men who were not addicted to social media.4
Most of the research showing the negative effects of smartphone addiction focused on adolescents or college students. According to one study in college students, using a smartphone as a way to take a break from work or school tires the brain and doesn’t allow it to recharge as effectively as other types of breaks.5 That means you might be wearing yourself out and depriving yourself of the energy you need for sexual endurance.
In another study, university students who used their cell phones a lot suffered from more neck pain, back pain, weight gain, and depression compared with students who used their cell phones less.6 If these studies translate to older adults, these are all factors that can lead to sexual decline and low sexual stamina.
There’s a fine line between just using your cell phone a lot and actually suffering from smartphone addiction. You don’t have to suffer from smartphone or TV addiction to feel the effects of these electronic devices on your sex life.
If you’re paying more attention to your electronic devices than you are to your partner, your sex life will suffer. What’s more, staying glued to your social media accounts or binge-watching your favorite TV show can keep you up late at night and deprive you of sleep, which can lead to low libido. Sleep is the time when you make most of your testosterone, a hormone linked to sexual stamina, so not getting enough shut-eye can do a number on your testosterone levels.
In addition, by the time you’re done sitting down in front of the TV at night, you might be too tired to have sex.
Whether or not it’s an addiction, continually monitoring your cell phone at night also can lead to problems with anxiety, stress, and depression,7 all factors that can lead to sexual decline.
Avoiding nighttime use of electronic devices like televisions, cell phones, and tablets can lead to more time for sex as well as better sex. Turning off the TV after only one episode of your favorite show and avoiding checking social media accounts at night not only leads to better sex but also better sleep, to give you more energy for future romps under the sheets.
Here are some tips for unplugging from your TV, cell phone, and other devices:
Read at night instead of watching television or looking at your phone. Your partner and you can read next to each other in bed or even read to each other.
No need to go cold turkey. Start off with 10 minutes of “phone-free” and “television-free” time before bed. Work your way up to 30 minutes then an hour then eventually have TV-free nights. Ultimately, you’ll have extra time for sex at night, have sex earlier when you have more energy, and still get to bed early enough to get plenty of shut-eye.
Turn your cell phone off at night. If you can’t do that, at least put it somewhere other than your bedroom.
When you do watch TV at night, don’t binge-watch. Those episodes aren’t going anywhere. You can always watch them another time.
Keep your television out of the bedroom. That way you won’t be tempted to hit the remote control on button rather than hit the sack.
You might be addicted to your smartphone if:
You use the phone to the exclusion of other activities, causing harm to both your mental health and social relationships.
You feel uneasy or dissatisfied when not using the phone, so you use it more to try to get rid of those feelings.
Even if you're not actually addicted to the phone, but using it a lot to check the web, social media, or YouTube, especially in the evening, can cause problems with getting enough sleep and having enough one-on-one time with your partner.
Television addiction is similar to smartphone addiction. If you’re experiencing mental or physical harm as a result of watching too much TV and yet still find it hard to stop watching, you may be addicted.
For example, binge-watching can cause depression, and excessive TV viewing can lead to weight gain and not getting enough sleep. Too much TV can also lead to sacrificing those intimate moments with your partner.
Some symptoms include:
Not being able to stop after only one TV episode and frequently binge-watching TV shows.
Regularly watching TV rather than performing other necessary activities.
Frequently staying up late to watch TV, so that you don’t get enough sleep.
Even if you’re not addicted to TV or your smartphone, staying plugged into these electronic devices at night can have repercussions. Watching TV too late at night can leave you too tired to have sex. Constantly checking your cell phone can make you too distracted to pay attention to your partner.
These devices can also deprive you of sleep, and sleep is necessary for sexual stamina and libido.