College Freshmen Are Not Partying, Not Getting Laid, Socially Awkward As Hell, And More Depressed More Than Ever

College is the best four years of your life. At least that’s what everyone says about it when they’re out of college and chained down to mundane responsibilities like getting those TPS reports over to Karen in Accounting before she serves your head on a platter to your boss. When the most important thing in your life is being in your office cubicle cage at approximately 9 AM, college really feels like a four-year fantasyland of hanging out with friends, casual coed sex, and endless beer bongs.

But not for everyone! The college experience, obviously, is quite different depending on who you are. An alarming study from UCLA, however, recently discovered that college kids are spending less time hanging out with their friends than they have in the past three decades. Basically, today’s college freshmen are becoming massive introverts who don’t want to meet new friends and have fun with each other.

Kids these days. Don’t you know what you’re missing out on? Via Bloomberg:

Only 18 percent of freshmen surveyed in 2014 said they spent at least 16 hours a week socializing with peers, according to a report released Thursday by researchers at UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute (PDF). That’s the lowest level since researchers began polling this group in 1987. At the same time, more freshmen are spending just a handful of hours with friends every week. Almost 39 percent of freshmen said they spent five hours or less a week with buddies—an all-time high. For the annual report, researchers surveyed 153,015 freshmen at 227 four-year U.S. colleges in fall 2014, administering their questions during orientation or at the beginning of classes.

This is translating into less partying:

Students weren’t just hanging out less. They also came to campus with less partying experience than any of their predecessors. Only 8.6 percent of today’s freshmen said they’d partied at least six hours a week during their senior year of high school, down from 34.5 in 1987. “It seems students are neglecting their social lives in lieu of focusing on their academic lives, perhaps in part because of the messages they’ve been sent for a number of years—for some, since elementary school—about the importance of getting into a good college,” says Kevin Eagan, an assistant professor in residence at UCLA.

Note that this applies just to college freshmen, not college students as a whole.

This sounds like a big win if you’re a university administration who is worried about ended up on a party school list. But the reality is that it’s turning college freshmen into socially awkward human beings who can’t do things most normal human beings can do, like have conversations and human interactions with strangers.

Less pre-college partying might sound like a good thing. But having so few teen keggers and so little in-person friend time in their past may be leaving large shares of students unable to socialize. “As students encounter conflict or need to have more difficult conversations with friends in college, it might be more difficult for them if they have less experience,” Eagan says. It may also negatively affect their mental health. The percentage of freshmen reporting they frequently felt depressed rose to 9.5 percent in 2014, up from 6.1 in 2009. “Not having a social outlet may be contributing to increased levels of anxiety, and increased feelings of being overwhelmed,” Eagan says.

Socialization is the key to getting laid, so one would think this means that college kids are having less sex. Just because you can swipe people on Tinder doesn’t mean you have the social skills to seal the deal, right? How does this research translate to college kids sex lives? A study from two years ago more or less confirms that college students just aren’t having casual sex like they used to, despite the media-perpetuated myths that kids are more promiscuous because of “hook up culture.” Basically, college kids *think* they’re hooking up more, but the reality is that they’re not. Via Time:

But Bogle and Monto do agree that students tend to think their peers hook up far more frequently than they actually do. One study found that on average, students report a total of five to seven hookups in their entire college career. But when Bogle surveyed students about how often they thought their fellow students were hooking up, they typically said seven times a semester. “That would be 56 people” in four years, she says.

In fact, 1 in 4 college students is a virgin and in the new research, only 20% of students from either era reported having six or more partners after turning 18.

And what’s to blame for all this? The Internet, of course. Back to Bloomberg:

The only thing today’s college freshmen appeared to be doing more of was a solitary activity: spending time online. Since 2007, the share of freshmen who spend at least six hours a week on online social networks has risen to 27.2 percent from 18.9 percent. “Students are finding new and different ways to socialize,” Eagan says, which partly accounts for the decline in time spent on “traditional” socializing. It has yet to be proved, however, that face-to-face interaction can be replaced by a Facebook poke or an excellently illustrated Snapchat.

TL;DR: College kids are spending more time reading BroBible and the like, which is a good thing! But don’t forget to actually go out there and, uh, be Bros *with* your Bros. Don’t be socially awkward as fuck.

Now pump some jams and get after it, kids.

Brandon Wenerd avatar
BroBible's publisher and a founding partner, circa 2009. Brandon is based in Los Angeles, where he oversees BroBible's partnership team and other business development activities. He still loves to write and create content, including subjects related to internet culture, food, live music, Phish, the Grateful Dead, Philly sports, and adventures of all kinds. Email: brandon@brobible.com