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youth and email: the fear factor

? The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs |


| Employee Bloggers: Move to France ?

July 20, 2006

youth and email: the fear factor

Stephen Baker

Steve Rubel notes a study that teens view e-mail as old school. It's been trending that way for a while. When I interviewed college students two years ago for an article on how they use media, they were dismissive of e-mail. Not quick enough, too spammy, and--here's the one that got me--too permanent. One college senior told me that if he sent an e-mail to a romantic interest, he would struggle with each sentence, trying to make it just right. If he failed, if he wrote something stupid or laughable, she might share it with her entire mailing list. His gaffe could circulate forever. IM, by contrast, worked more like a conversation.

But e-mail is still a link for all the people who aren't their buddies or social networking pals. That is: college administrators, Apple's help desk, and ...parents. The only trouble, judging from my kids, is that many of them don't check their e-mailbox too often. So they risk missing the formal stuff: notices of cancelled courses or medical checkups. I usually send text messages to their cellphones.

06:50 AM


Stephen, missed the 'study' at Steve's post or the original source. A couple of interviews with teens and 'what my kids do' hardly qualifies .

Posted by: Craig at July 20, 2006 09:10 AM

Right on, Craig. This wasn't a study - it was an article in the A.P. and the main "source" was a PhD candidate from Berkeley. Not to say her research isn't valid, but it hasn't been peer-reviewed or even accepted by her professors (or else she'd be a PhD, not just a candidate). If you want a real answer to the "e-mail is dead" question, the Berkman Center at Harvard might be the best resource:

Posted by: Rob at July 20, 2006 11:34 AM

Text has it's limit too. What's great in this country is the convergence of mobile devices. When everyone has an email enabled phone then you (and marketers) will be able to reach your kids.

Posted by: Chris Baggott at July 20, 2006 11:48 AM

It's true that kids are the IM generation, but let's not jump to the mistaken conclusion that email is dead. Kid's have social interaction; when they grow up, they start business communication, and that requires email ( or other methods like wikis). More here:

Posted by: Zoli Erdos at July 20, 2006 11:51 PM

It depends on the relationship you have with your kids. Even "old fashioned" letters keep me in touch with my sons in Boot Camp. They don't have access to IM or email or cell phones-it is amazing how exciting even for them it is to get a hand written letter.

Of course, my youngest though would rather IM on his cell or on the PC than to even call when he is at home.

Posted by: Martha at July 21, 2006 06:30 AM

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