From a piece I wrote for Comment is free.
The only thing that’s surprising about this [news that teenagers don’t use email] is that people are surprised by it. Most teenagers use technology to communicate with their friends and for that purpose email is, well, too formal. (Apart from anything else, because it’s an asynchronous medium, you don’t know whether someone has read your message.) So kids use synchronous messaging systems such as SMS and social networking tools that provide the required level of immediacy.
But the main reason young people don’t use email is that they haven’t yet joined the world of work. When (or if) they do, a nasty shock awaits them, because organisations are addicted to email. The average employee nowadays receives something like 100 email messages a day and coping with that deluge has become one of the challenges of a working life.
Organisational addiction to email has long since passed the point of dysfunctionality and now borders on the pathological, with employees sending messages to colleagues in nearby cubicles, people covering their backs by cc-ing everyone else and managers carpet-bombing subordinates with attachments. The real problem, in other words, is not that email is dying but that it’s out of control.