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You (haven’t) got mail!

Does grandma ever call wondering why no-one has replied to her e-mail? If so, you are not alone. The results of a comScore study released yesterday show a startling mismatch has developed when it comes to digital communication between the younger and older generations.

The study, which looked at digital media trends in 2010, found that the use of web based e-mail among 12 to 17-year-olds was down a staggering 59 percent from a year earlier. Overall, e-mail use was off 8 percent. The only group to show an increase? The over-55s. Web-based e-mail was up 22 percent in the 55-64 age group, and up 28 percent for the 65-and-over crowd.

Although teens showed the most precipitous decline, e-mail use was also down 18 percent among 25-34-year-olds and the same 18 percent for 35-44-year-olds. The reasons? That’s easy – texting, instant messaging, and social networks.

“As communication platforms and devices continue to proliferate, the usage of Web-based e-mail has begun to decline,” noted the report. That, according to comScore, doesn't bode well for the future of e-mail as a mainstream communication tool.

While older people are increasingly online, and trying out e-mail as a new (to them) form of communication, their children and grandchildren are moving on – and these days, that means to Facebook.

While Facebook still ranks behind Google and Yahoo! in terms of total visitors per month, it recently captured the #1 spot in the U.S. in terms of the time we devote to the site. It now accounts for 12.3 percent of all our time online, up from 7.2 percent just a year ago.

And it looks like grandma might not be too far behind. comScore also reports that Facebook’s over-55 demographic showed the biggest increase of any of its age groups, up 1.9 percent for a total visitor share of 13.2 percent.

In fact, if you’re trying to get your kids to check their e-mail accounts, that might be all the leverage you need: “If you don’t reply to grandma, she’s going to post something on your Facebook page.” That should do the trick!

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