The Pew Research Center has recently issued its 2010 Generations Online, a fascinating report on the internet habits of various generations that confirms email as the dominant form of online activity. One of the most remarkable findings is that the number of teens blogging has actually been cut in half in the last few years and many internet users under the age of 33 have dropped blogging to a large extent. Even virtual world visits have plummeted!

Email Is Many Times More Popular than Blogging or Virtual Worlds

Many of the activities that are popularly believed to leech away online time and interest in all age groups scored shockingly low. Just 4% or fewer adults visit a virtual world and even among teens the rate is only 8%. Blogging is a surprising second lowest with only 14% of teens and 18% of young adults bothering to work on their own blog.

Email proved to be the single most popular online activity with adults 18 and over. The percentage of web adults who use email shows nearly total saturation.

Percentage of All Adults Using Email

Age 18 to 33: 96%
Age 34 to 45: 94%
Age 46 to 55: 91%
Age 56 to 64: 93%
Age 65 to 73: 90%

Conspicuous is the email usage by teens 12 to 17 which at 73% belies the “conventional wisdom” that this age group is abandoning email in favor of social networking and instant messaging. This statistic proves that teens are still very engaged in email activities.

All Ages Including 12 to 17 Engage in Email More than They Do Shopping or Blogging

Teens engage in email usage more than all of the “youth activities” which are generally assumed to be the most popular in this age group. In fact, from the 93% of 12 to 17-year-olds who reported they go online, 73% were doing so to send or read email. Compare this with the 57% who watch videos, the 48% who shop, and the 8% who visit virtual worlds.

Teens’ Use of Social Networking Sites & Email Is Exactly Equal

Amazingly, social networking is tied with email usage among teens – with both activities scoring 73%. Instant messaging’s penetration is still lagging far behind email. Email was used more often than IM in each and every age group.

Percentage More Engaging in Email More Often than IM, by Age Group

Age 12 to 17: 9%
Age 18 to 33: 44%
Age 34 to 45: 81%
Age 46 to 55: 260%
Age 56 to 73: 310%

Combining Email Marketing with Health Info Is a Winning Strategy

There are many pearls of online wisdom which may be gleaned from this study. Right after email usage among all adult age ranges was search, but the universal third most popular online activity was not shopping, reading news or watching videos as many might suspect: it is obtaining health info!

All adults from 18 and up rank getting health information online as the number three activity they engage in. The proportion of adults aged 18 to 64 who seek health-related data averages out to 84.5%. If your brand is considering a new vector or a different email campaign direction, you might want to consider that health-related subjects are hot!

Email continues to be a dynamic and unparalleled online communications method. These statistics prove that even with the cascade of all the new technology and the exponential rise in popularity of social networking, there is nothing that can compare to the power of email.