E-mail is for old folks.
A new survey by Parks Associates shows that teenagers are less likely to communicate via e-mail than any other demographic.
According to the study, less than one-fifth of the 13-17-year-olds surveyed profess to using e-mail to communicate with friends, compared to 40 percent of adults aged 25-54.
The study shows that instant messaging is the dominant form of communication for teenagers, with one-third of teens relying on the messaging system, compared to only 11 percent of adults.
"One of the most insightful data points was the one about friends, but what we saw about family, it is still a lot of face-to-face communication and phone calls," said John Barrett, director of research for Parks Associates.
Barrett points out that this data does not suggest that e-mail will go the way of the dinosaurs. He estimates the teens will eventually need to learn to use e-mail more as they graduate from school and enter the workforce.
"It's one thing to have this always-on communication when it is people you want to talk to, but once you switch to a more professional environment, that delay is nice to have," Barrett said. "So it's a big question on how that will work. I suspect you'll see more of a mix as this generation enters the workforce. E-mail will remain a way to get in touch, but they'll also use instant messaging as well."
This study was part of a larger study called "Digital Media Habits," which was an online survey.
It also addressed teens' use of social-networking sites for communication, finding that roughly one-third of all teens use these sites daily.
"When you look at the other top five social-networking sites, they don't have a distinct user base," Barrett said. "People who have a MySpace account also have a Friendster account or a Facebook account so it's interesting that all the kids are using the same site, which is MySpace."
Barrett said that this phenomenon is simply the way this generation handles multiple messages simultaneously.
"I think it is about multitasking," he said. "Younger kids are more likely to sit there and type on a computer while they're watching TV and talking on the phone. I think the younger generation is just adapting to this environment where they're doing 10 things at once."
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