What Do Teens Really Think Of Email?

Is email dead?

It’s a question that comes up a lot, and most people would argue that email is going strong.

But what do teens think? They’re the up-and-coming generation, and their habits may influence future trends in communication, so we should know where email fits into that.

Earlier this year, we offered a scholarship to the high school or undergraduate college student who best described what they think will happen to email now that so many other messaging technologies exist.

What you’ll see may surprise you.

Teens’ Take On Email

We gathered data from the applicants to put together a visual of what email’s future looks like according to Gen Y:

Infographic - What Do Teens Think of Email and Social Media?

You can share this image and post with others at https://www.aweber.com/teensandemail. You can copy and paste the HTML below to embed the image on your blog or website.

As you can see, nearly half of respondents (44%) believe that email will live on. Only 15% think email is dead or dying; however, many are unsure of its future.

What This Means

Most of the students (57%) agreed that email is good for business communication. Others pointed out that an email address is required for many sites, and that social media and email pair well together to cover informal and formal communication needs.

The majority of those who believe email is dying say that email is not fast enough, and isn’t mobile. They don’t realize that phones can handle email alerts along with Facebook updates. This misconception may stem from the fact that the majority of smartphone users are not in high school.

Many students only took their current use of email into account when responding, and didn’t discuss the possibility of future use. However, some did mention that email is currently important for business and professional communications.

What Do You Think?

While it appears email will continue to utilized for now, a good percentage of teens think it will eventually die.

Is it because they aren’t looking at the big picture yet, or is it really only a matter of time?

Please share this image and post! The URL for it is https://www.aweber.com/teensandemail


  1. PJ Brunet

    9/14/2011 3:01 pm

    Maybe there’s a young Bill Gates in that stack of essays, but very few teens have any clue about life or business. Little life experience, brains not developed, hormones pumping, asking teens about the future of email is like asking a tourist for directions, they don’t know what they’re talking about even if they were born with a mouse in their hand–chances are they were playing video games most of those hours in front of the computer. So I say “teen surveys” are mostly worthless.

    Today I use email more than ever for my business, Skype comes in second–but my Skype name isn’t on my business card because Microsoft will probably end up killing it and then I’d need to order new business cards, by mail, like with a stamp. LOL.

  2. jim cockrum

    9/15/2011 9:31 am

    Online Banking, Paypal, eBay, Amazon – just a few things you either can’t use or can’t use effectively WITHOUT email.

    Email isn’t going anywhere.

    That being said, I collect all possible contact info on every lead and follow up with them in multiple ways, but email is CORE and will remain so for a very long time. I see it trending UP not down in my business.

  3. Stan Horst

    9/15/2011 9:39 am

    I find it interesting that 57% mentioned that it is useful in business, 14% say it is a grown up thing, and 21% indicate they believe they will use it more in the future.

    What this tells me is that other forms of communication are more for personal life, but email is still considered a necessary and valuable part of business, and will probably remain so for a very long time in the future.

  4. Charles dupin de Saint Cyr

    9/15/2011 12:00 pm

    Did the survey ask teens about “What do you think about “Sending Emails” or did they ask about “Email” in general.

    For teens “sending emails” what might be missing for them is the “instant response” — because instant responses is what they get when they post on Facebook & twitter. You need to wait several minutes to hours (or days) before someone replies to your emails.

    What do you think of “Email” in general? This question is going to get interpreted in many ways. As a marketer I would have liked to ask; “what do you think of receiving email”, but as a parent I know we shield our kids from many email ads and “train them” to ignore what might be possible spam, or virus/phishing attacks. Should we then ask why are teens distrusting email? Is it something that we as parents and marketers can change/.

  5. Fabien (Anglais)

    9/15/2011 1:13 pm

    May I suggest that a better question would be: What do we want to do with e-mail and is that function being replaced by something else?

    E-mail used to shine compared to snail-mail because it was fast, cheap and yet personal and… actually being read. It does not mean that people stopped used traditional mail (who has?), just that e-mail turned out to be more efficient for when you wanted… I dunno, build a relationship with customers and make more business?

    I think Facebook is taking over. Why? Even with spam being filtered out, the inbox is being filled with commercial offers one may have signed up for but does not have time to read. Everyone gets too much e-mail to actually read all of them. Personally, the only e-mails I look forward to are those of my friends, family and success stories from my readers (I sell a book online)… Rest of it? I don’t care. I actually waste time going through my e-mails, most of them being irrelevant (I’m signed up to like 20 newsletters… used to follow one of them closely years ago, now I just check sometimes one of them, I’m too busy to read them every day.) So e-mail is becoming an other word for clutter.

    Facebook allows you to keep in touch quickly and efficiently. It’s more personal. It might even be easier to read and faster. I think that’s the way to go to get personal with people. Only — and that’s certainly a good thing — it will have to be done with more care and by bringing more value than with e-mail, so as to actually be more personal, not just “look” or fake it.

    Of course (and that’s certainly the main issue for us doing business) there’s not just Facebook… and the same can be said of YouTube (keeping up with subcribers) or Twitter (more specialized and not very popular in France though) or Messenger (but you cannot get a relationship going with it).

    I know I’ll be doing some A/B split-testing in the near future to see if I can increase conversions rates by offering Facebook as an autonomous alternative to e-mail.

    Just my two cents!

  6. J Schwarz

    9/15/2011 1:14 pm

    email is here to stay as a “primary” form of communication. Many businesses, like banks, still rely on faxing documents. The fax should have been laid to rest a decade ago, yet people are still using it as a complementary form of communication.

  7. Jim Smith, PCC

    9/15/2011 1:17 pm

    I just finished raising four Gen-Y kids, and at least three of the four thought this same way over the past several years (email is for adults, it’s so “yesterday”). College taught them to respect email a bit more. And our most prolific texter, who refused to even read his email for years, got a job. With a company. And nobody is paying him to sit and text all day… however, he DOES get access to email, and that’s almost exclusively how I hear from him most of the time, now.

    So I agree w/ others — teens have a view of the world that will shift as they move into the work world. Is email endangered? Perhaps. But if the Millennials I know are any indication, email will hold a very important place along w/ texting and social media. It’s about multiple tools, not just one.

  8. ChrisCD

    9/15/2011 1:26 pm

    PJ, there must have been more than one future Bill Gates. 57% recognized its importance to business. Those are some smart teenagers. :O)

    Social media can start a conversation. Conversations can even be carried on through things like Facebook, but you are often limited to a certain number of characters. Twitter may be good for quick announcements like, “I’m getting Coffee”, but it can’t deal with issues that require more thought.

    Of course email has its limits as well. Emotion is hard to deliver and communications can get misconstrued based on preconceptions of the reader. For instance, if someone send me a note in ALL CAPS. I often think they are frustrated or angry.

  9. Ruth Mattson

    9/15/2011 1:32 pm

    One of the fastest growing workplaces worldwide is the virtual workplace, where employees from all over share ideas and files. I work in a virtual environment, where we utilize cloud technology, instant messaging, and of course email, as our main form of communication. As brick and mortar type businesses in many markets go the way of the dinosaur, email will remain firmly entrenched as an important way to share information and communication. I certainly couldn’t picture me and my coworkers using social networking to communicate with each other.

  10. Matt E.

    9/15/2011 1:43 pm

    Lets see… can you attach a file to a txt? Nope. Email is not fast enough? That’s funny. Its faster than postal, but slower than IM or txt. But sometimes you need to express your thoughts with something a little wider than 160 characters at a time. Plus, the person I’m trying to communicate with may not be online to IM or txt. Email will wait.

    Email will be around for a long time. Probably long enough for their grandchildren to use.

    Now, they should have asked if handwriting – cursive or print is dead. Or even english, as we knew it.

    Also, “167 students wrote essays on the topic and sent them to us”, hmmm, did they really write essays on paper and mail them to your physical address or did they email the essays? That should tell you what you need to know right there.

  11. Jarom Adair

    9/15/2011 1:51 pm

    Email will be like brick and mortar stores: the internet took a bite out of their profitability but physical storefronts will never go away completely.

    Texting and instant chat will erode email’s popularity but will never render it completely useless.

  12. Justin Premick

    9/15/2011 2:22 pm

    Hi everyone,

    Solid points made all around… thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  13. Ron Orr

    9/15/2011 2:47 pm

    It comes down to this
    Through personal and business you need to develop relationships.

    You can’t develop a relationship through 140 characters.
    When using facebook and twitter the feeds move so fast, that it still could be weeks or months that it takes for people to see sequential things about you.

    It takes months and years of real conversation to build trusting relationships personally and business.

    It’s not about speed for long term success.

    Go around to a public place give everyone a 10 second sales pitch
    do this every day for months and see how many real relationships you’ll ever have built. The answer is zero.

    It takes real conversations to connect with people. Without long real conversations the true unique identity of how two connect can’t be seen.

    text messages are fine for , see you in 5 minutes, or what are you doing later. Teens live in a very present “me now” world. Most of us did. They are in such a big hurry even though they have more time than those who are older.

    Later people relax more and realize that it’s not about rushing into everything.

    status updates and text have their place.

  14. Vicki Berry

    9/15/2011 2:49 pm

    I agree completely with what Jim said, “email is CORE and will remain so” in my business.

    I have people I communicate with via Skype as well as IM. Sometimes those messages are only kept on the machine on which I was typing, and for any sort of important record keeping, instant messaging and text seems and is so transient.

    Emails can be organized by category for quick retrieval of important information, and even located by related topic searches.

    Obviously teens and young adults have not had to rely on their organizational skills to be organized, professional, or work smarter and not harder. Retrieval of data, discussion or otherwise, from emails is just as important as the instant access provided by text and instant messaging.

    Great topic!

  15. Arnold

    9/15/2011 3:01 pm

    Maybe for this year, email / texting / twitter / facebook, etc, are all separate things, and we might still ask someone today, “should I phone you, email you, or send you a text?

    Seriously, how long will any of this technology currently being used remain the way it is?

    Once I finish designing my Internet browser / communication implant chip that you can surgically have inserted into your brain, the game is going to be all over.

    For those who think I’m serious, I’m not, but just trying to make a point that asking anyone what they think will happen in the future is somewhat futile since communication technology will look nothing like today.

  16. Vicki Kenny

    9/15/2011 3:04 pm

    We communicate in business with 18-25 year olds and the biggest challenge we find is most of them have hotmail accounts which never receives new mail senders without dumping it into junk. They use Facebook as (in their view) a more instant response to their questions – which our generation would at times seem too private for a public forum like our Facebook page…

  17. Roy Laws

    9/15/2011 3:54 pm

    While I am certainly not a teenager, I doubt that most would prefer email over text messaging, where they normally can get a response almost instantly. Email to someone (like me, for instance) may not get an answer for several hours, several days, or probably never, because I get so darned much SPAM, it takes ME hours to get through the daily queue of 500-700 emails. I do use different addresses, which I am very very careful not to reveal to anyone except personal friends or business associates, but eventually I have to junk those and start new ones, because the SPAMMERS are just too clever to leave me in peace.

  18. Ramon Thomas

    9/15/2011 3:59 pm

    Email is the glue that holds the Internet together. It’s like the our blood because it keeps everything in circulation. Can text messages replace email? There is no sure fire replacement because email has the widest options and the widest application. Not even Facebook can kill email, hence they integrated it into their Inbox to compete with Gmail et al.

  19. Q

    9/15/2011 8:17 pm

    Email is still the primary business communication tools that we use in our business to communicate with our clients. Advancement in email functionality has made sure that the medium itself is relevant today. For example, we are able to attach bigger files compared to the past, we can preview slideshows within the email itself, view and edit and send documents all within the same interface. So definitely a business tool that is not going away anytime soon.

  20. J

    9/15/2011 9:25 pm

    I think email may evolve over the next ten years. Teens today will be professionals in 10 years time. If they are so used to messaging during teenage years, how will they take to emails when they are on a job. One day when instant messaging and the whole conversation can be captured in an official way with sender and receiver names on it and can be printed with date and time, they will become official documents. Then what happens to emails? With technology anything change within the next couple of years.

  21. Tim

    9/15/2011 11:42 pm

    Look at this infograph and se for yourself which media have the greatest influence and control of today’s market: http://rww.readwriteweb.netdna-cdn.com/cloud/assets_c/2011/09/infographic_abs_final-33590.php

    That said, a general snapshot usually doesn’t reflect the nuances of niches or specific markets. It’s isn’t possible to sell something “to the internet”… you are selling stuff to *people* on the internet.

    So I think a critical part of the conversation is to figure out what the target market wants, how they want to be communicated with…

    If I am trying to sell something related to a teen’s social life, e.g. concert tickets, then I may have to seriously figure out how I can connect with them via social media and/or mobile marketing.

    Conversely, if my goal is to connect with adult business owners, I would just need to speak with them to find out where THEY are. 99 times out of 100 they will tell me email is at the heart of their daily communication.

    So I think it’s less a question of what do *I* want, and more about what is going to get my message through to my target market.


    P.S. But if you’re asking, email all the way! At present time it is the only medium that fully allows sorting and organizing, archiving, searching, filing, attachments…. although that could change some day.

  22. Sean Breslin

    9/16/2011 4:27 am

    Thinking of email as formal… was a suprise result from the survey for me!

  23. Michael Haley

    9/16/2011 7:42 am

    That’s it… the teens gotta be right. I’m gonna cancel my Aweber account (NOT!)

  24. D.Blay

    9/16/2011 8:34 am

    E-mail has has decline the use of posting letters,may other things might come and also decline e-mail usage,it will not take us to long way as people thought but we shall enjoy it but the end season will come..

  25. John Bair

    9/17/2011 12:06 am

    I get so tired of hearing about the latest and the greatest on so many things when the fact is that 8 times out of 10 its simply not. Saying email is dying or will die for texting is almost like saying that a battery operated or plug in chainsaw is going to overtake a good ole fashioned gas operated saw. I’ve tried all of them and can tell you that a gas powered saw is still by far longer lasting, more convenient, portable, and far more POWERFUL than anything new that has came out period! You simply can NOT conduct business texting and I personally would never use it for more than blurting out a quick, unimportant blurb that I don’t care about referring back to later or saving for furture referrence. What teeny boppers do now and what they will do when they grow up are two very different things. Asking a teenager anything other than “What’s Justin Biebler Up To These Days” is completely irrelevant.

  26. Paul

    9/17/2011 5:59 am

    Interesting question, especially in regards of communicating with Teens. It seems that social network marketing has more options than email marketing with this group. However, any system we use, be it email, social media sites, blog, text messaging, etc. are all systems. And whatever system you use to communicate, it will always be the value of your communication that will be the driving force.

    Like everyone else, we are getting more and more emails flooding our inboxes, at a point that it becomes a joke. So, the first reaction of frustration is to unsubscribe to all these lists. However, the ones that really offer value, will be the ones that survive, and although I have little to no experience with email marketing tot teens, I personally belief that someone will need to build trust in other environments first, to attract teenagers to communicate through email afterwards.

  27. frank kern

    9/19/2011 7:37 pm

    I believe that 7 will always be 10
    and email will always be 8.34…
    so don’t worry!

  28. Dennis Moons

    9/21/2011 5:50 am

    “We gathered data from the applicants to put together a visual of what email’s future looks like according to Gen Y:”

    These are people who bothered to answer to your call. This would assume they know/care about aweber/email marketing. I assume many that who consider email dead didn’t even bother to respond. This test doesn’t really offer any conclusions about Gen Y.

  29. Israel

    9/22/2011 8:59 am

    I don’t think the teens of this generation have any interest in sending email, all what the teens of nowadays knows about is just chating and doing some of the things that won’t be of benefit to them, and it will be better if the teens of nowadays puts interest in emailing, then there is still enough chance of the email surviving. Most of the research i personally made shows that the teens of nowadays shows no interest in emailing, eg. A person that has 1,129 unread messages in his own mail/inbox, so it will be a good teen for teens if they are been enlightend to email. Thanks

  30. Neil Hocking

    9/25/2011 8:14 pm

    I think it would have been useful to present an exercise whereby teens devise a future working environment which functions without email. There may be some teens who really can see the integration of instant communication methods with business. The industry will make a difference. For example, I used to work in travel and I can’t imagine a way to instantly communicate with colleagues on the other side of the world when they are asleep and I’m working, vice versa. In this case, short of compulsory 24h work cover, email is the nearest to instant we’ve got.

  31. John

    9/30/2011 4:23 pm

    The use of email may have declined among teens but that would only last for a while. When they outgrow their age they will understand the importance of email for business and communication.

  32. vicente c. lee, jr.

    10/6/2011 3:22 am

    I agree with john above comment, some teen now a days only used computer more for games and seldom used it as social communication except when they got a relationship from other gender, but someday when they get matured they will understand the important of email.

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  34. Richard

    12/2/2011 5:02 am

    Maybe I’m just out of touch but I really can’t see email dying out. I assume (maybe wrongly), most teens who think email will die out beleive it will be replaced by social networks. However,social networks only allow communication with those who are part of the same network meaning this won’t work for all businesses, what if you want to have a conversation with 4 people all on different networks? I do kind of hope I’m proved wrong as it would be interesting to see where things go if email does become redundant.

  35. Diane Soucy

    1/5/2012 5:04 pm

    This is interesting. I have four gen y’s and as the general consensus shows here, they are too young to realize the power behind email and won’t sit long enough to write one until they have to in order to get somrthing they want. Gotta love them. 🙂

  36. Greg

    2/10/2012 9:33 am

    I think email will live on… Good for you! 🙂

  37. Jake walter

    7/10/2012 1:32 am

    I cant imagine a world without email. We live in an impatient world that needs instant access. Emails at least let you respond at your convenience. Almost reminds me of pagers, but we know how that turned out.

  38. Tanner

    9/23/2013 11:44 am

    It would be really interesting to see how this has changed today.

    With the growing love of services like Instagram, Kik, Snapchat, etc. has email gone the way of the dodo? There has to be updated reports on this I would think.