One of the more entertaining surprises in last Sunday’s newspaper was a story from the New York Times on email use by college students, or, more appropriately, the lack of email use.

Courtney Rubin’s Sept. 27 story in the Times on the resistance to all things email by Millennials sheds light on a subject that Baby Boomers and babies of Boomers may have been unaware of, but not startled by.

In her story, Rubin reported on an ad hoc tracking of Purdue University student email use by one of their professors. “Just how little are students using e-mail these days? Six minutes a day, according to an experiment done earlier this year by Reynol Junco, an associate professor of library science at Purdue… During the semester, they spent an average of 123 minutes a day on a computer, by far the biggest portion of it, 31 minutes, on social networking. The only thing they spent less time on than e-mail: hunting for content via search engines (four minutes).”

Interesting? Definitely. But should you care? As Frank Reed of Search Engine writes, you better — especially if you do any Internet marketing, or you own a business and rely on email to communicate with your employees.

Marketers “are going to need to sharpen their pencils in reaching younger folks in the online space,” wrote Reed, “because email marketing to this group may not be effective at all.” In other words, other forms of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook have already proven more Millennial-friendly, and it is those that media marketers must master, either now, to target a college audience, or later, as those college students become wage-earners, and hence, customers with even more money to spend.

But as a boss, business owners retain the power of the paycheck to persuade better email practices by younger employees. And for that reason alone, wrote Reed, pronouncements of the death of email may be a bit premature.

“Kids these days communicate with social media. That’s all well and good but it is also haphazard and sloppy communication to track,” Reed noted. “As a result, it is extremely unlikely in the foreseeable future that email will go away as the modern day form of a paper trail in the world of business.”


Reed, Frank. “Communication Breakdown – Students vs. Email“; Marketing Pilgrim. 9/30/13.

Rubin, Courtney. “Technology and the College Generation“; The New York Times. 9/27/13.