As part of my job, I think a great deal about how to connect with teens. But the thinking goes way deeper than it just being part of my job. I have two teen girls in my household. So that makes the issue of relevance and communication very important.

Here’s what I have learned from my own experience:

  • Teens don’t read email; or if they do, it’s only intermittently and with minimal attention spans
  • Teens have multiple email addresses — the one they use to communicate with teachers is the most used
  • Teens pay attention to IM
  • Teens pay attention to SMS

On any given day, I’ll SMS with my teens four or five times at a minimum. It’s the only way to guarantee they answer.

Late at night, we’ll IM with each other using iChat, Facebook chat, or Google chat. They don’t use Yahoo, MSN, or AOL. iChat because it’s so much part of their Mac. Facebook because they’re always on Facebook. And Google (one of them only) because, well it’s Google and it’s what they do.

Cardinal rule: don’t post on their Facebook walls. Send private messages. Monitor, but stay out of the way. If you’re lucky, your teens’ friends will friend you, and that’s fun.