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IM Top Ranked in Digital Media Habits Survey

Instant messaging (IM) has topped e-mail as the primary means of communication among U.S. teenagers with online access, according to "Digital Media Habits," a recent online survey from Parks Associates.

Less than one-fifth of people aged 13-17 use e-mail as their primary communication method with friends, compared with nearly 40 percent of adults aged 25-54. At the same time, more than one-third of online teens rely primarily on instant messaging to communicate with friends while just 11 percent of adults aged 25-34 favor this method.

"Digital Media Habits" finds this shift in communication habits is occurring against the backdrop of other changes on the Internet. For example, roughly one-third of all online teens use social networking sites like MySpace daily.

"We are seeing a generational shift in communication patterns, and e-mail is now old-fashioned," said John Barrett, director of research at Parks Associates. "Teens and young adults are increasingly accustomed to an always-on world where friends and family are instantly accessible."

However, the decline in e-mail use among teens may not necessarily be the technology's death knell. "Once these individuals graduate and join the workforce, they may not have as much time to IM friends," Barrett said.

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