How do our future business leaders and co-workers (aka Generation Y, the Millennials, Generation Next, Echo Boomers) prefer to communicate? How might it impact the workplace in the next 5 to 10 years? For insights, I turned to my own household for an unscientific survey of family and their friends (12- and 16-year-olds) that shows – in order of preference – how younger teens prefer to communicate. The key is “real-time” and speed. The goal is typically to plan/discuss face-to-face contact such as a party, a sleepover or school. Caution: this list will likely change by the Spring as they discover and flock to new tools.
Facebook – By far the primary and preferred way of communicating with friends, via status updates and “pop-chat.” A big benefit: multi-tasking. Maybe Mark Zuckerberg and Co. are onto something when they announced the integration of text, chat and email.
Texting – A close second. Considered “slower” than Facebook (seconds count), but still something to always have by your side. At the home base, simultaneous Facebooking and texting (with a TV nearby while YouTube plays in the background) is common.
Skype – Especially for anyone who doesn’t have access to Facebook. Viewed as more “professional” than AIM (see below). A benefit is three-way video communication.
aol Instant Messenger – AIM is good for exchanging messages, but popular lately because of the one-on-one video chat function.
X-Box – Not a primary communication tool, but when playing with friends, it’s a way to have side conversations not related to the game.
Email – Never. At least not with friends, as it “takes way too long.” The only need for email: communicating with teachers, “because they still use it,” and for tasks such as product registration where an email account is required.
Phone – Only in extreme circumstances, such as when a friend is traveling and does not have Internet service for texting, or if a parent’s name shows up on Caller ID.
Twitter – It’s a duplication of Facebook status updates, so why bother? You could follow celebrities, but who cares?
U.S. Mail – How they receive cards (and cash) from grandparents. Something seen in the movies.
Fax – Only to get missing homework assignments that can’t be emailed.
Telegram – What’s that?