Gen Y Chooses Texting, Email over SocNets

October 21, 2009

Though members of Generation Y spend considerable time on social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, they are far more willing to give up these social networks for a week than texting or email, according to (pdf) a study by the Participatory Marketing Network (PMN), conducted in partnership with? Pace University’s Lubin School of Business’ IDM Lab.?

The third Gen-Y behavior study from the two organizations examined the time spent and preference for visiting social networks, reading/writing email, texting, talking on the phone, watching TV, reading magazines and surfing the web on non-social-media sites).

Notable findings from the study:

  • Email (26%) and text messaging (26%) are the activities least likely to be “given up for a week,” followed by TV (15%), talking on the phone (11%), visiting social networks (9%), reading magazines (7%) and visiting non-social-network sites (6%).


  • ?The average time spent by Gen Y on social networks per month is 33 hours, compared with 31 hours for email. A difference of two hours per month is unexpectedly small given the disparate media coverage given to Facebook and other social networks, PMN noted.



  • Texting remains an important communications tool for Gen Y, with the average number of text messages per month exceeding 740.
  • Gen Y spends more time emailing, texting and social networking online than talking on the phone, watching TV or reading magazines.

Michael Della Penna, PMN co-founder and executive chairman, said it may seem surprising at first that email still plays such an important role in younger people’s lives.? However, he pointed to the fact that email and social networking sites currently work hand in hand.? “As long as email remains the collection point for social networking updates, including alerts around new followers, discussion updates and friend requests, it will remain a powerful force in marketing and our lives,” he said.

A separate analysis by Nielsen found a similar interplay between social networking and email, perhaps because of this relationship.

Interest in Mobile Promos Low

The study also found that interest in mobile marketing remains low among Gen Y, with only one in five now receiving targeted promotional messages and only 4%? planning to do so in the future.


A study by 1020 Placecast, which asked a similar question, found a much larger percentage of young people at least somewhat willing to receive such messages. In that research, 40% of cellphone owners between ages 18-34 said they were interested.

About the study: Conducted? in October 2009, the study included 203 panel members between ages 18-24.

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