Sofia Rubenstein is a 17-year-old high school student in Washington DC who is in a lot of trouble. She is having to work unpaid in her father’s store to pay off the $1,100 bill she ran up by texting her friends on her mobile phone. During one month she sent a whopping 6,807 text messages and made the news in her local paper as a result.

Teenagers clearly love texting. They also love instant messaging, several studies point to the fact that people under the age of 24 prefer instant messaging to email. Like texting, instant messaging leads to instant gratification. “Grown ups” used to get that because most of their communication was face to face. But now with our global connections and our increasingly solo lifestyles, such instant gratification of communication is difficult. Indeed, this may be part of the interplay of factors which are leading to increased levels of depression in older people. We just can’t get the instant gratification we need of our communications any more.

Younger people don’t have that problem; they have worked out that technology provides the answer to the psychological need for immediate feedback on what you are saying. Texting and instant messaging both do that, even if your connection is with someone on the other side of the planet.

But this has important implications for Internet marketers. Increasingly, people who you are trying to connect with and sell to are not using the traditional tools you are using, such as email, phones, faxes and so on. Instead, they are relying on instant messaging, texting and so on. One problem with the increasing dependence on instant messaging is the variety of systems available such as those provided by Microsoft, Yahoo and Google. If you are on Google and your contacts are on Yahoo, you can’t connect directly. However, Meebo provides a solution to this. All you do is sign up for a Meebo account and you can connect with people on any instant messaging system.

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