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Permission Marketing Becomes Permission Socialising for Kids

By Yvette Vignando - 4th July 2010

The other day a 12 year old told me that looking up a friend's telephone number in a phone book (online or offline) was "stalking". Apparently it's okay to call a friend if their number is in your mobile phone, but otherwise, contacting a friend without warning or invitation on their home number is "creepy". Wow, things have changed.

As a Generation X parent, it seems perfectly normal and even sociable to me, to look up a friend's number in a phone book, or find their number in an online directory. Surely if their number is public, and that person is my friend, I can use that number to call them? I'm fairly confident that my Generation thinks this way, but what about Generation Y and Generation Z? Are the rules of  socialising being affected by the age of spam, mobile advertising, geolocation and cyberbullying?

Our young teenage boys have a mobile phone of their own (which they rarely use) but I have also noticed their reluctance to call a friend to check on something - they would rather send a text message. Our boys seem to be reluctant to interrupt a friend to converse briefly about plans they have, instead preferring a text message. "But they are boys..." I hear you say, boys often don't want to get into long conversations. I agree that's part of the cause but on speaking to friends, a general reluctance to call a friend seems to be common among teen girls also.

Instead boys and particularly girls, are happy to have long dialogues via the Facebook chat box, or send endless 4 line text messages that beep and echo through the house as the dialogue gets increasingly complex about their plans to meet up. Actually I'm quite fond of the text message, just as I'm fond of Twitter - the challenge of engaging in a conversation using succinct communication appeals to my intellectual side and also lets me continue my love of communication while doing a range of other work and personal tasks ...

But, and this is a big 'but', I want to encourage our kids to feel permission to contact a friend and communicate using voice! I know that their grandparents are also bemused and a little concerned about this social development.  I think it is ridiculous for children to feel that they are stalking a friend by calling them. Is this observation I have made confined to my kids and their social groups or is this part of a wider phenomenon?

And one final observation - I think online social media such as Facebook and use of text messages have actually increased the tendency of teenage boys to communicate. We have a primary aged boy and young teen boys so I am not basing this observation on wise and experienced reflection. I've just been told that boys tend to shut down a bit when they enter their teenage years, and I think online social media and texting has made it a little easier for some of those boys to keep chatting with friends and experiment with the best way of "saying" what they think. Hmmm. Do I have this wrong? Over to you.

Comments (2)

YvetteVignando's picture

Unannounced Drop-Ins

This is something I often talk about with friends. I know it is totally off the topic of kids and their socialising but it's in response to Carol's comment above.

Our house looks pretty good just before friends drop over for a dinner or lunch ... because we spend a few hours whipping it into shape.

Other days, the house ranges from looking like a robbery has just occurred to looking "lived-in".

I am someone who does enjoy order and I love to see the house looking good because I feel like I can enjoy each room and its objects more. If I was a gazillionaire I would have a housekeeper to help me achieve this non-noble goal. But I don't.

On the other hand, I enjoy the people and things I do in my life much more than my house and its contents and I would rather see a friend, read a book or go somewhere with the family than restore order. So, it's and up and down relationship I have with our house.

Actually I love people dropping in, and feel a bit embarrassed if we are in the post-robbery phase, but I am relaxing more and more about this. When I go to someone's house and it looks lived-in, I feel more comfortable and somehow 'trusted', and I most certainly never make any judgement about the state of their house, especially if they are parents!

Should we try to relax this facade of the perfectly-kept house and mum-who-does-it-all so our friends can relax too?

One of the funniest things I have EVER read was some advice in the book "Speed Cleaning" by Shannon Lush & Jennifer Fleming under the heading "What to do About Unexpected Visitors" - Ms Lush advised that she keeps "a cloth impregnated with lavender oil near the front door so that when there are unexpected visitors, (she) can wipe it over the edges of the door before opening it. The smell (apparently) is fresh and creates an impression of cleanliness". I'm going to buy a 2 litre vat of Lavender oil until I can afford a housekeeper.

CarolDuncan's picture

Permission marketing ...

I recently did a series of interviews with five women from five different ethnic and cultural backgrounds - Russian, Bosnian, Fijian, Filipino ...

Without fail, they all thought the strangest thing about Australians is that we are uptight when it comes to visiting. They all find it curious that Australians don't 'drop in' unannounced.

I mentioned that I'd be embarrassed because the house would undoubtedly be its usual riotous state of mess. The thought this was a ridiculous concept, "If I drop in on you, it's because I'm thinking of you and care about you! I don't care about the state of your carpet!"

As much as I love all these new technologies of 'connectedness', is it changing the way we actually DO connect with each other?

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