Email vs. texting: a generational divide?

Email is still the more popular mode of Internet communication but teens prefer texting, according to a pair of surveys. Is the split a harbinger of a shift in corporate messaging?

According to a new global survey 85% of adults use the Internet for email while 62% use it for social networking. Private research firm Ipsos conducted the survey among 19,216 adults in 24 countries.

Parse the demographic by age and you get a different story. A 2009 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 54% of teens were texting daily in September 2009. The quantity of those messages is also increasing at a quantum rate. Half of teens sent 50 or more text messages a day, or 1,500 texts a month, and one in three were sending more than 100 texts a day, or more than 3,000 texts a month. Output ranged from a high with older teen girls ages 14-17 of 100 messages a day to a low among the youngest teen boys of 20 messages per day.

“Text messaging has become the primary way that teens reach their friends, surpassing face-to-face contact, email, instant messaging and voice calling as the go-to daily communication tool for this age group,” the study said.

Since the survey, the Pew Center reports that the volume of texting among teens has risen to 60 texts for the median teen text user. In a separate survey, the center said smartphones are gaining teenage users. “Some 23% of all those ages 12-17 say they have a smartphone and ownership is highest among older teens: 31% of those ages 14-17 have a smartphone, compared with just 8% of youth ages 12-13.”

Texting could increase as more teens acquire smartphones, and their preference for communicating may supplant email as teens move into the workforce. While it’s overshadowed by social media use it’s a trend marketers might want to monitor.