Young people really do use e-mail

By Steve Outing

As the father of two American girls, now ages 11 and 16, I get to watch the younger generation’s (digital) media habits up close, which is useful in my line of work as a media trend watcher.

Something I noticed some time ago with my teen daughter is that e-mail is used in limited ways. She and her friends mostly communicate via social networks (MySpace and Facebook, in her case) and phone text messaging and instant messaging on the computer. If I send her an e-mail and want her to read it, I need to alert her to check her in-box.

However, with the 11-year-old, e-mail is big. The “big” social networks haven’t caught on with her and her friends — though they do get into some social networking activity via sites like Neopets, Club Penguin, Webkinz, etc. Of course, technically you’re supposed to be 13 to get a MySpace account. And Facebook accounts you can’t get unless you’re at least in high school, so that’s a big part of it.

So this is just a little tip for anyone targeting kids with content or services. When you hear that today’s kids don’t use e-mail so much and that it’s a communications preference more for the older generations, remember that that generalization doesn’t apply as much to the pre-teen crowd.

For more info about kids’ and teens’ online habits, check out this new research funded by the MacArthur Foundation.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!

3 Responses to "Young people really do use e-mail"

  1. Kurt Greenbaum
    Kurt Greenbaum 8 years ago .Reply

    My daughter is 17 this coming week; my son is 13. My results are close to yours. My son is big into email; the daughter does check her email regularly, however, now that’s struck out on her own and gotten a gmail account — the first email address that I didn’t set up for her.

    She is huge into Facebook, as are most of her friends, and yes, they do all their communicating that way. And by text.

    If I really want to reach her, it’s by sending her a text or a Facebook message — though she’s careful never to REPLY on Facebook, lest I get access to her profile.

    Her pattern has been different from her brother’s. He has had no interest in social networks so far (aside from his time on Neopets, which is past). She progressed from Xanga, through MySpace to Facebook.

  2. Whitney
    Whitney 8 years ago .Reply

    I started a blog with my 10-year-old brother last summer. While he doesn’t get some of the nuances of LiveJournal code, he loves copy/pasting YouTube videos and photos into his blog posts. I started the blog with him to give him a head start in using and understanding the Web (maybe my frustrations with Web-hating student journalists – yes they exist – are getting to me). It also works to improve his writing and basic HTML skills. I hope it’ll help him in the future.

    We keep the blog private so we don’t have to worry about trolls and creepy Web stalkers. I’d definitely encourage this in other families, especially those with pre-middle school kids.

  3. FlashBack
    FlashBack 8 years ago .Reply

    My daughter is 17 this week, my son is 13. My results are close to yours. My son is big on email, the daughter who regularly check their email, however, now that the hit on his own and obtained a Gmail account – the first email address I have created for her.

    She is huge on Facebook, like most of his friends, and yes, they do all their communicating that way. And text.

    If you really want to get to it, is by sending a text message or Facebook – but careful not to answer on Facebook in order to gain access to their profile.

    Her behavior was different from his brother. He had no interest in social networks so far (apart from your time at Neopets, which is passed). She went Xanga, MySpace over Facebook.

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