US teenagers are shunning email in favour of other forms of communication, according to a report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
Teens are now more likely to use instant messaging (IM) and SMS to communicate with friends and family. This is despite the number of teenagers using the internet growing by 24 per cent in the past four years, with 87 per cent of those between the ages of 12 and 17 now online.
The main growth is the number of teens playing games on the internet, looking for news, shopping online and researching health information.
Email is described by teenagers as a tool for communicating with 'adults' and 'institutions', such as teachers and schools, and as a way to convey lengthy and detailed information to large groups.
But IM is used for everyday conversations with friends that range from casual chat to more serious and private exchanges.
"These technologies enable a variety of methods and channels by which young people can communicate with each another as well as with their parents and other authorities," said the Pew Internet report, written by Amanda Lenhart, Mary Madden and Paul Hitlin.
"Email, once the cutting edge 'killer app', is losing its privileged place among many teens as they express preferences for IM and SMS as ways to connect with their friends."
IM is also used as a medium for personal expression, in which teenagers can express and differentiate themselves through buddy icons or other customisation of the IM service.
Bob Jones, managing director at enterprise security firm Equiinet, said: "Email, IM and text all have their place and the results of this survey tend to confirm that.
"I have recently learned of some organisations deliberately introducing delays into the transmission of email so that it becomes a medium for considered written communication rather than conversation."
A PDF of the Pew Internet Teens and Technology report can be downloaded here.
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