Teens say e-mail is dead

Teens don’t use email much anymore, according to Stefanie Olsen, writing in CNET News.com, and even Instant Messenger is a dying tool with this age group. Instead, they use social networking tools, such as MySpace and FaceBook, plus cell phone text messaging, to communicate. When teens do use e-mail, it is to stay in touch with adults. As one teen who uses Facebook on her cell phone explains, “I need (Facebook) everywhere I go, but I log into e-mail only once a week.” Read the article here.

Duke CIT will offer events this fall on using Facebook in instructional activities. For insights on the technologies Duke students use, listen to the CIT 2007 showcase presentation on iPods and Podcasts and YouTube, Oh My! Student Perspectives on Technology Use in Coursework, Research and Community Engagement.

4 thoughts on “Teens say e-mail is dead

  1. Shawn Miller
    Shawn Miller

    Even though the CNET article is short and poorly detailed, there are still many factors to consider with its claim.

    -Email is bulky and slow: possibly true, but what about sending attachments and more formal business communications? Which standard do we consider more ‘academic’ – business style writing, or IM/Text Messaging/Social Networking ‘blurb’age? There’s definitely a place for both.

    -Facebook and MySpace are limiting. Though you may meet many new people by joining a social network, you’re also cut off from those who choose to not be a part of the same network.

    -Social networking tools are generally a poor, slow moving technology (especially on mobile devices). With that said, each of the ‘big two’ (Facebook/MySpace) have released development kits that are helping to increase mobility and take the applications into new venues.

    -Applications like Gmail seem to be trying to ‘bridge the gap’ between Email, IM, and social networks. Once you start using a Gmail account, you also start to have access to a chat tool (seamlessly integrated – no new app pops up), and also start to build a trusted list of ‘friends’. The thing that’s missing, and perhaps, more crucial for the youth, is the self-advertising component of social networking sites.

  2. Avatar
    Cynthia Varkey

    I helped interview 4 incoming first years for some usability and when asked what tools they use for communication, they all resoundingly answered “Facebook!”. They looked at like I had 2 heads when I asked if they used email or IM. They did concede that the other tool they used a lot was a cellphone. They further commented on the creepy turn MySpace has taken lately and there was some commenting on how the recent influx of Facebook apps are making Facebook less desirable. The number one thing these students used on Facebook – Photo Albums.

    While I agree with Sean’s points above, I think it is interesting to see how fast informal communication modes are changing. Three years ago, we were saying how email was dead but IM was all the rage.

  3. Shawn Miller
    Shawn Miller

    “The number one thing these students used on Facebook -Photo Albums” – sort of supports the idea that student communication is becoming less textual and more visual. I think everyone has always wanted to communicate more visually, but the tools have hitherto been prohibitive. Now, with on the fly image and video editing capabilities, its much more possible.

    I want to clarify and state that my original comment is not in support of email as a primary communication tool – I just don’t think we’ve found the better universal solution yet. Until then, most of us will struggle with carrying around a digital swiss-army knife of gadgets, applications and widgets that all try to do the same thing, but fail in various ways.

  4. Avatar
    Lynne O'Brien

    Good points, Shawn. One thing mentioned in the article, and something I’ve noticed with my own teens, is that they flit from one application to another. Even with email, they have multiple addresses and check different accounts sporadically. Within the last year, my two boys have gone from using AOL instant messager for hours, to almost never using it, to MySpace which they now have mostly abandoned and onto Facebook, but they also have email addresses in Google mail, AOL mail, yahoo mail and road runner mail(and those are just the ones I know about). Usually the most reliable way to reach them is by text message to their cell phones, but since Brian has lost or broken three phones in the last year, I can’t even count on that. I can’t imagine trying to stay on top of a whole group of students with all these varied accounts. I guess profs would have to say at the start of a course: here’s how I plan to communicate with you, and it’s up to you to stay connected to that channel of communication.

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