As of January 2022, 92 percent of the digital population in the United States reported using e-mails as a form of communication, with this tool presenting a higher penetration rate than social media and other online messaging apps, used by 83 percent and 67 percent of all U.S. users, respectively.
User behavior: Free time usage vs. work lifeWhile today’s internet users can choose from a broad range of online networking options such as IM or social media, e-mail continues to defy its predicted demise: It has become a new type of digital currency, as valid e-mail addresses now function as virtual keys that unlock access to online services such as banking and shopping. The use of e-mails for work in the United States was the highest among users aged between 25 and 56 years old, while only 53 percent of Gen Z users - who are starting their first steps into their working lives - reported using e-mails to exchange information and communicate at work. Around six in ten U.S. Millennials reported using e-mails for online shopping, while corresponding with family and friends was indicated as the main activity for users in the Silent Generation (aged between 76 and 93 years). Users aged 45 and above represented the main consumers for e-mail news, while six percent of users aged between 35 and 44 years reported using e-mails as their main way of accessing news online. E-mails about promotions and discounts were the most likely to be opened by online shoppers, while only 20 percent reported opening e-mail invitations to leave an online review for products they recently bought.
While between 2016 and 2020 users in the U.S. spent more time checking work e-mails than personal e-mails, it was reported that in 2021 users spent over 172 minutes daily checking personal communications, and only approximately 149 minutes on work e-mails, a decrease from the daily 200 minutes reported in 2020, when the global outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic turned workers to rely more heavily on digital solutions for work communications. According to a survey of workers conducted in February 2022, U.S. workers conducting their daily activities partially online and partially from their offices received around 31 e-mails weekly, while fully remote employees saw as many as 170 e-mails per week. E-mails were also the preferred communication channel to contact customers, with 41 percent of Millennials and 35 percent of Gen Z employees in the United States reporting using primary this communication channel to contact customers of the business they owned or managed.
Spam and online safetyIn 2021, e-mail accounts were the most targeted by malicious actors, resulting in over 23 percent of U.S. users having their personal e-mail accounts compromised during that year. Seen their acquired importance in users’ lives, malicious actions targeting e-mail accounts have become more sophisticated and aggressive. Spam or junk e-mails carry a number of potential threats, including phishing scams and several types of online frauds. As of January 2022, phishing scams were the type of e-mails that worried U.S. users the most. In 2021, 14 percent of all frauds reported to the Federal Trade Commission in the United States took place via e-mail, costing consumers 329 million U.S. dollars in financial damages during the year.
Under these premises, correct account management and the use of secure passwords are essentials for users to protect an important part of their digital lives and identities. In 2021, only around 23 percent of U.S. users reported relying on a password generator for their e-mail addresses. Additionally, only 30 percent of respondents reported having changed their e-mail password within the previous month, while six percent of all U.S. respondents reported having never changed their e-mail passwords.