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Pew: Teens Prefer Instant Messaging Over E-Mail

The number of teens using the Internet has grown 24 percent in the past four years, and 87 percent of those ages 12 to 17 are online, according to a new report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The “Teens and Technology” report, based on a November 2004 survey of 1,100 young people and their parents, found that teens' Internet use has broadened as they log on more often and do more things when they are online. There also was significant growth in the number of teens who play games on the Internet, get news, shop and get health information.

E-mail, once the Internet's “killer app,” is losing its privileged place as many teens opt instead to use instant messaging and text messaging to connect with their friends, the study found. Instead of e-mail, 75 percent of online teens use instant messaging. Still, the telephone remains the most often cited communication technology used by teens.

In focus groups for the study, teens said e-mail is increasingly seen as a tool to communicate with “adults” such as teachers, institutions like schools and as a way to convey detailed information to large groups but that instant messaging is used for everyday conversations.

Other highlights of the study:

* 21 million teens use the Internet, half of whom say they go online every day.

* 51 percent of online teens live in homes with broadband connections.

* 81 percent of wired teens play games online. This is 52 percent higher than four years ago.

* 76 percent of online teens get news online, which is 38 percent higher than four years ago.

* 43 percent have made purchases online, which is 71 percent higher than four years ago.

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