Teens’ craze for texting may sound death knell for e-mails

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WASHINGTON - A new survey has suggested that many people aren’t e-mailing as much as they used to, saving time-and typing-with text messaging.

Recent analysis of people’s online communication habits from the Pew Internet and American Life Project and the marketing research company comScore has shown that the number of e-mails sent by adolescents between 12 and 17 years old dropped off 24 percent in 2010, and overall visits to web-based e-mail sites declined six percent.

“Overall, when you look at how many teens have ever sent an e-mail, it’s most of them, so it’s still being used,” Discovery News quoted Amanda Lenhart, senior research specialist with the Pew Internet Project, as saying.

“It just isn’t used for communicating with people you’re primarily communicating with in your life, namely your friends, and it’s absolutely true that text messaging and messaging through social networks has supplanted e-mail messaging to friends,” she said.

Teens’ taste for texting also reflects their affinity for communication efficiency. For instance, text messaging with friends is a convenient way to check in, while they might pick up the phone for an in-depth conversation or send a more formal e-mail to a teacher.

“There’s a utility in the way that teens choose to interact with each other. They pick the method that works best for them at the moment, and teens are just more likely than older adults to choose a wider variety of tools to use, and that’s what’s really different,” said Lenhart.

At the same time, younger people haven’t quite mastered a cohesive e-communication etiquette, which can present challenges in the classroom and elsewhere with text messaging or social networking on the sly.

Barbara Rosenfeld, of the City University of New York’s Brooklyn College said that while the media tend to paint teens and younger adults as text messaging addicts, students still appreciate good, old-fashioned handwriting.

Rather than mourning the decline of e-mail and longer-form writing in favor of abbreviated texts, Rosenfeld sees text messaging as a useful part of a communication spectrum that has evolved alongside new technology.

“As long as people realize that there are different ways of communicating dependent on particular situations, I think it is great to text and chat. We often use informal language in speaking to friends and more formal language in school, when interviewing for a job, or perhaps when speaking with a superior,” she said.

The comScore report noted that while people aren’t visiting e-mail sites as frequently, e-mailing is still one of “the most popular activities on the web” that more than 70 percent of wired Americans engage in each month. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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