Email Is For Old People

I happened to stumble back onto the Pew Internet Report on teens and technology from July 2005 that report that told us “87% of [US children] between the ages of 12 and 17 are online.” But the part I’d missed before regarded how these teens were using communication technology:

Email, once the cutting edge “killer app,” is losing its privileged place among many teens as they express preferences for instant messaging (IM) and text messaging [SMS] as ways to connect with their friends.

To them, email is increasingly seen as a tool for communicating with “adults” such as teachers, institutions like schools, and as a way to convey lengthy and detailed information to large groups. Meanwhile, IM is used for everyday conversations with multiple friends that range from casual to more serious and private exchanges.

It is also used as a place of personal expression. Through buddy icons or other customization of the look and feel of IM communications, teens can express and differentiate themselves. Other instant messaging tools allow for the posting of personal profiles, or even “away” messages, durable signals posted when a user is away from the computer but wishes to remain connected to their IM network.

Interesting. Connect that with a 2004 Korean study of student’s communication practices that revealed more than two-thirds of the 2,000 respondents “rarely use or don’t use e-mail at all.” Why?

…it’s impossible to tell whether an addressee has received a message right away and replies are not immediately forthcoming. […] “The new generation hate agonizing and waiting and tend to express their feelings immediately,” said Professor Lee. “The decline of email is a natural outcome reflecting such characteristics of the new generation.”

Interesting. American teens say email is for old people, Korean high-school and college students say it’s too slow, and UNH‘s students tells us they chat away an average of 9.3 hours a week in AIM.