In an attempt to explore what’s currently hip ‘n’ happening with young folks, I conducted a couple of interviews this week. Jill (pseudonym) is a 17-year-old music-loving female about to complete her final year of schooling. Jack (also a pseudonym… could you guess?) is a 14-year-old sports-and-video-game loving male, almost finished Year 9. I thought it might be interesting to compare two different perspectives.Due to the number of questions and the length of the interview responses, this is the THIRD in a series of four separate posts that report on these interviews.
In this third segment, we explore how young people communicate with each other.
What social media tools do you most like to use?
Jack: I use Skype and Xbox chats. I have Twitter but I don’t use it.
Jill: Facebook and Instagram. I do use email but mainly just for updates. I have to use email to send stuff to my teachers.
What makes these your favourites?
Jack: I love Skype cos it’s face to face. You can see the person you’re talking to. What I love about Xbox is it’s no fees or anything. You can have like 10 people in a chat room and I love playing the games and talking to people at the same time. It’s just fun. And you can invite your friends into the game and chat and stuff.
Jill: Everyone’s on Facebook and you can talk to anyone. You can stalk people on Facebook.
ME: Stalk people?
Jill: You know, say you want to know stuff about anyone; it’s easy to go on their Facebook profile and find out whatever you want to know.
ME: Don’t people activate the privacy settings?
Jill: Yeah, some do. But then they know that other people don’t get to know what they’re like. Or what they want you to know.
How do you think communication between young people has changed since your parents were your age?
Jack: You don’t have to meet face to face these days. It’s a lot easier to communicate. There’s a wider range of things you can do to talk to lots of people at the same time without being there in person. If you want to ask your friends a question you don’t have to go to their house. With social media it will tell you if this persons is online or offline.
Jill: Well, it’s a lot easier and faster to communicate now. People take it for granted how easy it is to send a quick text. It’s sad in a lot of ways because people don’t feel comfortable to talk on the phone now. Everyone does Facebook or texting and people don’t talk in real time.
Again, there is a contrast between respondents that I’m not sure is more indicative of their relative ages and genders, or merely personal preference and a result of “group” culture. Jack’s communications with his friends are usually synchronous and tend to revolve around game play and strategising in groups. Jill prefers one-on-one conversations with asynchronous chat. She seems to be threatened by the pressure of a phone conversation. In a separate conversation with Jill (not recorded here), I was surprised by her reluctance to use the telephone in case there were “awkward pauses, when no one knows what to say”.
I’m wondering why Jill and her friends don’t use Skype like Jack does.
Is this because, without the focus on a concurrent experience such as a video game, they have no need for synchronous chat?
Or do they have a definite preference for textual conversation because of the security it offers in the time and space to consider a response…?
Featured Image: “Chit Chat Records” [CC BY-NC 2.0] by rotor on Flickr