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View Full Version : Why don't teenagers use email?



Glen Miyashiro
December 26th, 2006, 03:21 PM
Teenagers these days don't seem to use email. I emailed a high school kid about something and didn't get a response for weeks -- because, I found out later, he rarely checks his email.

"Well, how do you keep in touch with people then?" I asked.

"I text them, or I leave comments on their MySpace," he said.

For a fortysomething Generation Kikaida geek like me, this is unthinkable. I probably check my email a dozen times a day. It's the first window I open when I power up my computer. If I didn't have email access, I would be socially crippled among my circle of friends.

So first... is it true? Do teenagers really not use email?

And second... why?

Is it a permanent generational thing -- will they never use email the way their elders do? Will text messages be the next big communication medium? Will the business correspondence of the ftr b wrtn n txt spk 4 qckr xmssn? Or in 1337?

Or is it a temporary artifact of age and access and lifestyle -- do teens not use email because of their daily habits? Teens aren't office wage slaves (yet) and probably don't sit in front of a computer as much as working adults do. But they do always have their cell phones with them, so getting hold of them that way is more assured. Will they use email more when they grow up and get desk jobs?

joshuatree
December 26th, 2006, 07:22 PM
It's more likely a hip thing than a generational gap. Myspace and texting is the cool thing for teens right now. It's more instant gratification in terms of texting too. But as they grow up and have to deal with responsibilities like work, I'm sure email will become more the norm since email is now considered as solid as sending a paper letter. However, with ever converging technology, high end cell phones can do email, etc, there may be a blend between email and texting.

achow
December 26th, 2006, 07:45 PM
I have to say this.... I am not a teenager but I do have email and Myspace. I do write emails or write to my friends on myspace. It is a generation thing and I have to say that text messaging and myspace are hot right now.

helen
December 26th, 2006, 07:51 PM
I can understand having a preference of using text messaging over email but the person in question that Glen is talking about should have initially said to use text messaging. Why bother giving out an email address if you are not going to check on it on a regular basis?

adrian
December 26th, 2006, 08:46 PM
I guess I'm the opposite of teens: I always check my email (heck, I have software that shows me how much messages I have) and I rarely do the myspace thing anymore.

SouthKona
December 26th, 2006, 09:11 PM
IMHO (as a parent of a MySpace child):

MySpace is a social interchange vehicle, and used by many teens (and others) as that. Remember the early ICQ a decade ago? It was the same sort of thing.

I use email because I do so much work (ie my job) on my computer. It is easy to check out email while I'm already online for work. But, when I'm looking for a bit more entertainment, I come here to HT.

Or, use IM.

But, MySpace has so many more options than either email or IM if you are wanting to "chat with friends", which is what many teens are doing when they go online.

Miulang
December 27th, 2006, 11:15 AM
"texting thumb" will be this younger generation's equivalent to our carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow...:)

Miulang

joshuatree
December 27th, 2006, 01:53 PM
"texting thumb" will be this younger generation's equivalent to our carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow...:)

Miulang

Wasn't that called Nintendo Thumbs back in its day? :D

Mike_Lowery
December 28th, 2006, 02:38 PM
I'm finding that a lot of teens and even people in their early 20's cannot write or spell for beans because of computer culture, and it will probably lead to significant part of coming generations to believe that Myspace is in fact, e-mail.

At work, I smh at co-workers who can't type as fast on a computer as they can text, or wOrDs aRe ~~**sometimes**~~!!! typed l!kE th1s. Myspace is fine by me, but I really don't appreciate how it has slowed down business because people whom I e-mail for work-related subjects don't check their e-mail as often as their Myspace. Bastids.

pzarquon
December 28th, 2006, 06:59 PM
As to the original topic, yes, e-mail is to some folks like snail mail was to previous generations. Already archaic, too much trouble, a novelty compared to SMS, IM, and definitely "social network" messaging (i.e. MySpace).

There's always a reliable clique of young people at my company (18-22 age range), and for them, MySpace is the extent of their interaction online. News is shared among friends with bulletins, conversations unfold in comments to blog posts... I'd bet most of them think a profile comment is the perfect way to send someone birthday greetings. A card? A stamp? What's that? :)

As to RSI, that's already prompting worrisome medical studies, as is the increasing inability to type on a QWERTY keyboard "correctly." Kids start pecking away before their hands are even big enough to span the "home row." And "predictive text" and tiny phone keypads are just as prevalent in their communications. I tell you, spell check and "T9" are raising an entire generation of people who think spelling is completely irrelevant!

As to what Mike's getting at, it's definitely prompted more than a few alarming write-ups in education journals. I'm sure the teachers here can tell you horror stories about IM conventions showing up in essays. Kids are thinking and expressing themselves in tiny spurts, and their ability to organize thoughts into a flowing, longer piece is diminishing. Forget an essay. A paragraph is starting to look like too much work for them.

It's a little sad, but on the other hand, I can definitely say that an actual ability to write has subsequently become a much more marketable skill. I don't think writers are going to be as in-demand as, say, neurosurgeons, but I definitely know getting work as a writer -- be it technical, legal, whatever -- has gotten a bit easier as the "next generation" work force turns up fewer and fewer wordsmiths.

The last two jobs I had, I was hired to do geeky, techy things, but ended up quickly shifting in focus and advancing because of (what I consider to be) a merely passable ability to communicate. And one of those jobs involved editing material produced by interns who were in the communications programs of local universities, and I gotta say... it was frightening.

liberty
December 29th, 2006, 07:31 PM
There's always a reliable clique of young people at my company (18-22 age range), and for them, MySpace is the extent of their interaction online. News is shared among friends with bulletins, conversations unfold in comments to blog posts... I'd bet most of them think a profile comment is the perfect way to send someone birthday greetings. A card? A stamp? What's that? :)

Heh, my friends and I are pretty old-fashioned then, considering we're in the age group you specified. I actually sent (and received!) Christmas cards AND thank-you notes via snail mail.

And for the record, I hate sticky caps, text messaging and Myspace bulletins. I check my email every day and would much rather talk on a cell phone than text someone with it. Texting is just too much work for me. I know, I'm weird.

tutusue
December 29th, 2006, 07:45 PM
Heh, my friends and I are pretty old-fashioned then, considering we're in the age group you specified. I actually sent (and received!) Christmas cards AND thank-you notes via snail mail.

And for the record, I hate sticky caps, text messaging and Myspace bulletins. I check my email every day and would much rather talk on a cell phone than text someone with it. Texting is just too much work for me. I know, I'm weird.
Jeez, Liberty...you and I have more in common than just living in Waianae!

i-hungry
January 1st, 2007, 12:14 PM
"Well, how do you keep in touch with people then?" I asked.

"I text them, or I leave comments on their MySpace," he said.


He'll probably think differently when he has to apply for a job.