Talk in person? Students would rather IM, e-mail

Dan Stroble

Across the nation, teens talking to their friends are seeing more of their devices than their own friends’ faces.

A July 2005 Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 59 percent of online teens surveyed choose to use the phone to hold a brief conversation with a friend they see regularly. Instant messaging came in second, with 26 percent of the teens preferring to use it.

Some are concerned that text messaging and e-mail are preferred over in-person communication. Only 2 percent of those surveyed chose in-person communication as their favorite method for communicating with friends they see regularly.


A July 2005 Pew Internet & American Life Project uncovered online teens’ communication method preferences when they want to hold a brief conversation with a friend they see regularly.

• Phone – 59 percent

• Instant messaging – 26 percent

• Text messaging – 7 percent

• In person (volunteered by respondents) – 2 percent

• None/other method – less than 1 percent

Kent State college students, graduates and faculty have similar opinions.

Scholastic media program coordinator Candace Perkins Bowen said there are some important benefits of being able to talk to people face-to-face.

“You definitely get more context,” she said. “You get body language. You can see if the message got across the way you wanted it to and adjust. If you don’t have face-to-face communication, you’re missing a lot of human connection.”

She said context is lost especially through text messaging, because it is so abbreviated.

In some ways, however, teens are communicating more, Perkins Bowen said.

“But it may not be the best communication,” she added.

Sophomore architecture student James Yarbrough said a negative effect of not talking face-to-face is “losing people skills.”

Yarbrough prefers to use his cell phone and text messaging to contact people because “you can get ahold of them faster.”

He said he was not surprised by the study’s results and expected them.

Kent State graduates Dave Fodor and Jon Maslanka have seen the trends change since they were in college.

“I’d say instant messaging was big for me in college. Instant messaging and in-person,” Fodor said. Now, he uses phone and e-mail the most.

Maslanka said he used to communicate in-person more but has less time for it now. Phone and text messaging are currently his methods of choice.

“It goes back to parenting and limiting the access their kids have to the phone and Internet,” Maslanka said.

“It’s easy to get caught up on the computer,” Fodor said.

Contact general assignment reporter Dan Stroble at [email protected].