A new survey by instant messaging (IM) provider ICQ has found that 44 per cent of 18-24 year-olds who use such services send as many or more IMs than they do emails.
Some 65 per cent of these users now keep in touch with friends via IM, compared with 56 per cent who use their house phone.
Fifty-two per cent of 18-24 year-olds use IM to gossip, and more than two-thirds use IM 'lingo'.
Abbreviations like LOL (laugh out loud), GR8 (great) and BRB (be right back) are popular IM expressions, making it easier to say more in less time.
Top IM features in use are photo sharing (56 per cent) and file sharing (50 per cent), along with personalisation including message window images, wallpaper, sounds and smilies (43 per cent).
Meanwhile, 17 per cent of this age group enjoy video IM and nearly 10 per cent enjoy listening to the radio from their IM service.
Around 26 per cent of 18-24 year olds and 31 per cent of the general population would use their IM service to make PC-to-phone calls via a VoIP service.
Twenty-three per cent of those surveyed (all ages) said that they want to be able to watch live television through their IM service, while 22 per cent want music-on-demand. Among 18-24 year-olds, 43 per cent want live TV, more than any other age group.
Meanwhile, all other age groups (25+) are most interested in making PC-to-phone calls through their IM service.
Some 47 per cent of 35-44 year-olds indicated that IM helps them work with colleagues or clients in different locations, and 68 per cent have used an IM service to communicate with colleagues. Forty-one per cent use IM when they want a quick answer on a business matter.
The survey was unrepresentative of the nation as a whole because all 509 respondents were internet users on a variety of IM services.
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