Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The ‘Instant Messaging gap’ between young and old

I was reading a report by the Associated Press about the ‘instant messaging gap’.
Apparently, there is a massive gap between adults and teenagers regarding the use of instant messaging (IM) to communicate.

The older the person, the less likely he/she has ever chatted through IM! Specifically, the generation American marketing researchers call baby boomers- those born from the mid-Forties to the late-Fifties as part of a boom in population witnessed across the world.

Almost half of teens, 48 percent of those ages 13-18, use instant messaging, according to the poll. That's more than twice the percentage of adults who use it.

The study also shows that the average teen, sitting near a computer at home, exchanges over 100 instant messages, with the total time spent messaging exceeding two hours. Adults, especially those over 35, prefer to use email and telephone.

Which brings us to the interesting comparison of email vs. IM. Three-fourths of adults use email more than IM, while three-fourths of teens send instant messages more than e-mail.

It’s like they come from absolutely opposite worlds in the ‘email-IM continuum’. So, obviously, teens cannot imagine life without IM.

Lifestyles come into this issue. Teens are socially active. In the US, 20% of teen users have turned to IM to ask for or accept a date, while 16 percent, have used it to break up with someone.

Watch out for the follow up to the movie “You’ve Got Mail”, which will be called ‘Dumped by IM’.

Still, this doesn’t mean adults won’t become more avid IM users. They’re learning from their children or younger co-workers and friends. An adult the Washington Post spoke to about this topic boasted discovering the joy of IM and sometimes having two IM conversations at once!

Teens can even can keep half a dozen conversations or more going at the same time. That’s multitasking for you!

Thankfully, the good old telephone still has its place even in the life of teens: when sharing serious or confidential news.

Sometimes we all feel a generation tech-gap between ourselves and teenagers! Then, we remember the very advanced uses of Internet, telecommunications and gadgets our work involves, and then we’ll feel it’s just the fact that different ages use different technologies and tools.

That’s probably the case with instant messaging. Who has time to chat online, with a job during the day and family and friends during the night. School age teenagers and tweens, that’s who!

In ten years, it’s worth talking to those same teenagers and asking them how much they use IM in their mid to late twenties. Surely, the teens of the future will exceed the IM habits of the teens of the past. Maybe by that time IM will have been replaced by three-dimensional, holographic imaging conversations between friends. Who knows!

(Published in The Star)


At 6:36 PM , Anonymous kinzi said...

Zeid, I read the same story and it seems a worldwide phenomenon: 1st world, 2nd and 3rd world. Just that the boomers of the 2nd and 3rd world never even got email. My son chats with me on the computer in the other room, telling me stuff he never talks to me about!

At 2:35 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

that was very interesting, and so true


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