Most people born since the ’50s can be classified into various generations with their own set of thoughts, technology, and cultural attributes. Generation Alpha is the newest generation born after 2010 into a highly digital world. Since their environment is nothing like what it was for the previous generations, their upbringing comes with interesting challenges for their parents, the millennials, who were born into a relatively undigitised world. Continue reading for all you need to know on parenting Generation Alpha.
Who is Generation Alpha?
The baby boomers were here first, our parents, and grandparents from the 1940s to the 1960s. Then came Gen X, people born from 1960 to 1980. Gen X were succeeded by Millennials: those born between 1981 to 1996. People born between 1997-2009 are Generation Z. People born between 2010 and 2025 are Generation Alpha. Since the Generation Alpha years are in this running decade the Gen Alpha age range is from zero to 10 years old. While many are still infants, the oldest is in grade 5.
Who Coined ‘Gen Alpha’?
Mark McCrindle who is a TEDx speaker, demographer and futurist, coined the term ‘Gen Alpha’. Going by his estimate, about 2.5 million Alphas are born around the world each week and these are the kids who will grow up with iPads and smartphones in their hands.
Generation Alpha Characteristics
Here are some Generation Alpha facts you need to know to raise your child.
1. There will be the most educated Generation in history
Although most of them are still in infancy, by the time Generation Alpha comes to the age, they will be the most educated Generation of all time thanks to the technology and instantaneous information available to them. They will grow up learning more and deeper about the world than all of their predecessors. This also changes the nature of higher education as it puts tremendously different expectations on the institutions.
2. They are tech-savvy
Their parents, may have been the first to be born into a digital world but Gen Alpha will be the first to have a seamless integration of technology into every aspect of their life. In fact, Alpha Gen and technology are so intertwined that it is estimated by the time they are 8 years old, they will surpass their parents in technology skills. They will never know a world without the internet of things, smart technology, and virtual reality.
3. AI is their reality
It was impossible a Generation ago for people to imagine the impact of Siri, Alexa, and Google’s assistant in their lives and homes. For Gen Alphas, it’s the exact opposite, Ai dominates their reality and is a natural part of their lives. It will also factor into how they will view the world with the ocean of information presented to them at every step.
4. Their learning is highly personalised
Gen Alphas are accustomed to having immediate access to information which makes lecturing and old models of learning obsolete. They will learn at their own pace with personalised learning experiences targeted to keep up with them. Along with the classrooms, online learning modules and tutorials will facilitate their approach to education.
5. Social media will be their dominant mode of interaction
Gen Alphas will interact with their friends and peers mostly through social media and they are connected throughout the day. That also brings with it concerns about privacy and online bullying. Social acceptance also becomes a matter of how much they are liked online. While this becomes the norm, they need to be taught the importance of person-to-person interaction.
6. They do not like the sharing economy
Ethnographies have revealed that Generation Alphas don’t like to share too much, unlike the previous Generations. Their anti-sharing stance is good for marketers, as ownership is back.
7. They don’t play by the rules
The time of playing board games and coloring between the lines is over. Gen Alphas cannot be restricted by rules like their predecessors. Their energies are hard to contain as their digital world puts them in touch with an infinite number of perspectives that stem a need to take ownership of themselves.
8. Religion goes out of the window
Many of the Gen Alphas by their nature tend to be defiant. It’s hard to persuade them into religion or belief systems as they are inclined to break free from existing structures. Even when you successfully get them to accept a belief system at a tender age, they will soon outgrow it.
9. They are constantly changing
Unlike the predictable Generations before, marketers have a vexing problem on their hands when targeting the Gen Alphas, as they are constantly changing. They tend to be more individualistic and, hence, do not fall into dominant categories of people. So by the time you come up with a way to predict them, they are already exhibiting new behaviors.
10. Their childhoods are a whole lot different
Unlike their millennial parents who enjoyed their free time playing outdoors and even spent large portions of days doing nothing, the Gen Alphas are different. They live in a world of constant cognitive stimulation so they need more structure in their days to keep them from fidgeting. Added to this is the peer pressure to perform well in school and invest time taking up extracurricular activities to excel. While this works for some, a lot of them could feel stressed and anxious.
11. They will make a new type of employee at work
In about a decade they will be working alongside five Generations and even form the largest group at the workplace. Their approach to work and problem solving will be different from their peers as they come from a more diverse and open pool of thought. They would also prefer to work only for companies that align with their principles and embrace diverse work environments. They would choose technology over human connection while at the same time require more mental health support than their predecessors.
12. Their diets are vastly different
Carbs, fats, and organic diary will be huge parts of what they love to indulge in as they will need all the energy they can get. Most Gen Alphas are addicted to pasta, macaroni and cheese, and plenty of cereals along with saturated fat. While it is considered unhealthy, their Generation has the highest life expectancy of any cohort.
13. They live at the moment
As countries have prospered over the decades, the worry about adversities in the future has almost disappeared in the younger Generations. So the trend of living in the moment for the moment is popular with Gen Z and also the Gen Alpha. There are ideas like YOLO (you live only once), FOMO (fear of missing out), and even NOTOMO (no tomorrow).
14. They’re funky
The conservative dressing is out the window as well. As they focus more on individual style and comfort rather than the societal norm, they are expected to be the most exhibitionist Generation ever. Alpha kids’ names are increasingly multicultural and oftentimes, completely original.
Tips for Raising Gen Alpha Kids
Consider these tips to get through parenting your Generation Alpha child:
- Your Gen Alpha child is all about digital technology so it’s important that you keep up with them. Try not to live under a rock and familiarise yourself with the virtual world. The better you are at it the more they will find you relevant.
- The days of authoritarian parenting is long gone. While your parents may have had complete control, the dynamics are different now. However, it doesn’t mean you say yes to everything!
- Before you allow them on the gadgets you need to be clear of what is okay and what is not on the internet and social media. Let them know the downsides of technology as well.
- The rules of screen/gadget time must be clear before children have access to it.
- Their generation is drenched with stimulation of the brain through technology. The part you need to pay attention is to work on the heart.
- Much of their interaction and relationships will be online, so as parents, it’s your job to teach them resilience and compassion. They need to learn to be mindful if they are going to develop emotionally.
- Be a role model for them and let them choose how much of your qualities they would want to take on. You might be surprised at how well they develop.
- Balance family time with screen time. Set rules for how much time they can spend on the screen, but do not over-impose family time to the point that they start loathing it.
- Be aware of what content they are exposed to online without coming across as too snoopy. They will inevitably find their way into treacherous waters, but be around to help them out.
- Most important of all is to establish a good rapport with your children. Have open communication with them and be the one person they can count on more than anyone else.
If you’re raining a Gen Alpha, then expect some generation-shock to come with as the change has been progressing exponentially. Now that you have a glimpse of the future, you can better prepare for how to raise your little one.