For the past three decades, Aussie parents have loved the name Jackson. Like Jack, but a bit longer. A cool surname-turned-first-name that fits in well with names like Harrison, Mitchell and Cooper.
But in the past few years, more and more parents have been choosing to give the old favourite a bit of a new twist and spell it Jaxon. In fact, the “Jaxon” spelling is now getting close to overtaking the “Jackson” one in popularity.
The latest figures from Victoria show there were 137 baby boys given the name Jackson in 2017 and 122 baby boys given the name Jaxon. It’s super close, with Jackson just four spots higher on the top 100 names list. At this rate, it’s quite possible that in 2018, Jaxon could come out in front.
It wouldn’t be the first time a more creative spelling of a name has overtaken the original one. When the name Taylor was popular for Australian girls, the spellings Tayla and Taylah came along and eclipsed it. A similar thing happened when Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman turned people onto the name Michaela in the 1990s. It was initially most common as Mikaela, then Mikayla and Makayla.
But does spelling matter? Does anyone – including employers – care how you spell your child’s name?
Well, for certain names, yes, and Jackson seems to be one of them. For some reason, the spellings Jaxon and Jaxson have been getting people fired up ever since parents started seeing them as a real alternative. You only need to look at online parenting forums to see that.
In Essential Baby, when a mum asked for advice on whether to call her son Jackson, Jaxon or Jaxson, she got some very strong opinions.
"Misspelling a name doesn't make it different, it just makes it bogan," wrote one person scathingly. Another woman mocked the "cre8ive" spellings, shuddering at Jaxson. However, some people declared their love for Jaxon, one claiming that Jackson is "too surnamish spelling".
On US website Behind The Name, one anonymous poster exploded with so much rage over the name Jaxon that you could almost see the spit on the screen.
"A festering boil on the buttocks of society, Jaxon epitomises everything, crass, uneducated, trendy and thoughtless about naming children today. Can you imagine a judge of the High Court named Jaxon? No! Then don't give the name to your child! You are declaring your low aspirations for them to the world and limiting their opportunities in life."
But parents who'd given the name Jaxon to their child defended it.
"I want it spelled that way so people don't call him Jack," a mother explained. "Jax is a cute nickname."
On the What To Expect forum, a teacher advised a mum-to-be to go for the spelling Jackson over Jaxon. She pointed out that kids get annoyed at having to spell out their names for people, then added, "Think about how future employers are going to view the name when they see it on an application."
Another woman had the same view.
"I asked my husband, who does a lot of interviews and hiring, what he'd think of a resume with the name Jaxon and he said he would assume they were named Jason and spelled their own name wrong."
Would a future employer really be swayed by something as simple as the name on a resume? It's possible. A US study showed that applicants sending in resumes with white-sounding names, such as Emily and Greg, were 50 per cent more likely to get a callback than applicants sending in resumes with black-sounding names, such as Lakisha and Jamal.
A similar study in the UK found that a job applicant with the name Adam was at a huge advantage over one called Mohamed.
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But Jaxon? Social researcher Mark McCrindle compiles a list of Australia's most popular baby names every year, and he's definitely noticed what's been going on with Jackson.
"The spelling with the 'x' in there is almost as dominant as the traditional spelling, and we even found a number of instances of Jaxson," he tells Mamamia. "The creative spellings, sometimes called the 'bogan' names, they are very polarising."
He says people don't hold such strong views on spelling variations such as Lilly or Sofia. So could a name like Jaxon affect someone's job prospects?
"People are making recruitment decision on less and less information," McCrindle points out. "People these days aren't putting, for correct reasons, their age, their place of residences, and so one of the few personal things that still exists is one's name, and people do make decisions through that."
However, he says it would be an "extremely fickle" would-be employer who was strongly swayed by the spelling of a name.
"I think it would be quite surprising if someone was given less opportunities because of the spelling of Jackson, but it certainly does create perceptions and it does play into stereotypes."
McCrindle also believes that with all the little Jaxons growing up, people will become more accepting of the spelling of the name.
"Parents are relaxed about it and I think that that attitude will flow through the broader community as well."