'Back in my day, we'd walk 7 miles barefoot in the snow to check our email -- and we used dial-up!'

Survey shows growing generational divide over use of web-based email on PCs

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The New York Times Bits Blog has some interesting demographic data from research firm comScore that should confirm the suspicions of anyone with teens at home -- email is for old people.

Especially web-based email like Yahoo or Hotmail accessed and sent from one of those stupid old desktop computers that many parents keep around the house just to embarrass their kids.

Comscore recently tracked the "year-over-year change in the time spent using web-based email from desktop computers by age segment." Got that?

First, the big headline: The 12- to 17-year-old group spent 48% less time using web-based email this year than it did a year ago. That's a huge drop.

The fall-off in the amount of time using web-based email in other age groups:

18-24 -- 10%
25-34 -- 11%
35-44 -- 14%
45-54 -- 12%

Those essentially are statistically identical. Then we get to the older people. In the 55-64 group, web-based email was used 15% more than a year ago, while time spent using web-based email in the 65+ group was up 17%.

Now for the caveats: As Bits points out, the numbers "only include time spent with e-mail on (desktop) computers, so the decline may be somewhat offset by teenagers using e-mail on their phones."

Yes, I imagine hordes of teens log onto their Hotmail accounts from their iPhones every single day. More likely they're texting, sexting, IMing and social networking.

As to the increase in the percentage of older digital citizens accessing web-based mail via their desktop computers, Bits quotes a comScore analyst who theorizes that some people over age 54 may be logging on for the first time or finally daring to venture beyond their AOL home page.

You only live once, baby.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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