Skip to main content

Surprise! Teens Prefer IM to Email

A new poll conducted by Knowledge Networks on behalf of AOL and the Associated Press finds that 72 percent of teens who use instant messaging report sending more instant messages than email messages. In comparison, only 25 percent of adults make the same claim—but more than half of adults polled send instant messages every day.

The survey queried the instant messaging and email habits of 1,513 instant messaging users, including 1,013 adults over the age of 18, and 500 teens between the ages of 13 to 18 from November 30 to December 4, 2006.

The survey also found that instant messaging isn’t just being used to chat: among teens who use instant messaging, 56 percent share photos via IM, and 33 percent share music or video files. Adults, however, are somewhat more likely to engage in IM-based audio chat (19 percent, compared to 15 percent for teens), and IM-based video messaging (17 percent compared to 11 percent).

Although roughly one in three teens (30 percent) said they can’t imagine live without instant messaging, almost one in five adults (17 percent) made the same claim. And almost all instant messaging users do something else online while conversing via instant messaging: 8 in 10 instant messaging users check email while using instant messaging. Some 53 of adults say they conduct online searches while using instant messaging, while 63 percent of teens say they research homework assignments while chatting. Over half (53 percent) of teens say they get homework help via instant messaging, but only 9 percent said they have communicated online with a tutor or teacher.

The survey also found that 40 percent of young adult IM users aged 19 to 29 end send 26 or more instant messages a day, while 44 percent of teens and adults under 30 years of age are likely to log into instant messaging several times a day.

Some instant messaging users talk to people they’ve never met: 39 percent of teens say they’ve sent instant messages to someone they’ve never met in person, while 35 percent of adult females and 51 percent of adult males report doing the same. Singles are also more likely to chat up strangers: 56 percent of single adult IM users report chatting with someone they’ve never met, compared to just one third of married adults.

Editors' Recommendations