Are you ready to meet a fascinating, dynamic set of individuals who are going to change the world? Then look no further than your kids’ playroom as I introduce you to Generation Alpha. This tech-savvy, forward-thinking cohort was (and will be) born between 2010 and 2025. Named after the first letter of the Greek alphabet, it’s the first generation to be born after the start of the 21st century, and it will be the largest and most diverse generation in history.
Gen Alpha has many unique characteristics, so let’s dive into learning about (and understanding how to parent) these futuristic little beings.
Who are Gen Alpha?
They’re digital-first and highly connected.
Gen Alpha was born in the same era as the iPad, Venmo, and online streaming services. They’ve never known life without Netflix, Alexa, or electric vehicles. A lot of their life is lived on screens, and 54 percent of them already own a tablet. Gen Alpha’s affinity for screen time has even led the internet to coin a new label for them: iPad kids, along with a TikTok hashtag that has over 525 million views.
While their predecessor, Gen Z, was the first truly digital native generation, Gen Alpha is the first generation to grow up in the metaverse—the convergence of digital technology around artificial intelligence and augmented and virtual reality. (And if you think your kid hasn’t already experienced the metaverse, don’t worry, Roblox and Fortnite are coming for them, too.)
Gen Alpha has been shaped by the pandemic.
Many members of Gen Alpha spent their early years in the long shadow of the pandemic, leaving them with lingering anxiety about health issues. Concerns about family members getting sick or about becoming ill themselves top their list of worries. They also routinely fret about missing out on time with family and friends, a side effect of canceled birthday parties and scaled-back holidays during the height of COVID-19.
They’re climate advocates.
The outlook for the planet is pretty dire these days, and no one understands that better than Gen Alpha. Over 60 percent say they’ll work somewhere that’s helping to save the environment, and they’re even influencing their parents to change their behaviors when it comes to conservation. The vast majority—80 percent—of parents of Gen Alpha say their kids have convinced them to change their actions and consumption decisions with an eye towards a more sustainable future. (Personally, I’m no longer allowed to stop at Starbucks unless I bring my own mug, something I should have implemented long ago. Thanks, kids!)
Screen time is an integral part of their life, and that’s not changing anytime soon.
Whether it’s due to advances in technology, the isolation of the pandemic, or a combination of both, Gen Alpha is highly comfortable with hybrid relationships that exist both online and IRL. For many older Gen Alphas, taking away screens means taking away access to their friends and community, something about which parents should think twice.
The way they learn is also shaped by the time they spend online. The skyrocketing popularity of world-building video games like Minecraft and The Sims (rebooted) demonstrates the draw of platforms that encourage innovation and problem-solving skills in complex scenarios.
This generation is not only socially conscious but is already used to (and comfortable with) voicing their beliefs. In a recent survey, 96 percent said they believe people should be treated fairly regardless of appearance or demographic. And, like their Gen Z predecessors, they expect to be listened to. They don’t hesitate to reward or punish brands when it comes to social justice, and they push others around them to do the same.
Tips for raising Gen Alpha kids
Keeping up with this dynamic generation isn’t easy, but here are a few things parents can do to help get Gen Alpha off to a strong start in the world.
Keep up with technology.
As a parent, you want to understand the technology your kids are using so you can a) guide them on how to use it safely and b) share (or at least understand) their enthusiasm for it. Personally, if my kids want to bond over stop-action LEGO YouTube videos or take part in a silly family group text, I’m all for it because it at least means we’re participating in a shared experience.
Remain flexible when it comes to screen time.
While screen time remains a hot-button issue, the reality is that Gen Alpha is already forcing us to reconsider how we think about it. It will be important to consider the context of whatever it is they’re doing that involves a screen. For example, are they down a YouTube rabbit hole of Star Wars outtakes, or are they learning how to run a farm in an online world-building game with their cousin who lives in a different state? To me, one feels like mindless entertainment, while the other feels (oddly) like connection.
Give them a voice.
Whether it’s supporting their social activism or letting them weigh in on the location for your next family vacation, showing you take their ideas seriously is important. Even at an early age, this generation is passionate about their ideals and opinions. Plus, they have a lot to teach us if we keep our ears and our minds open.
Help them care for their mental health—and let them see you caring for your own.
While the world may complain about iPad kids and Sephora Tweens, let’s all take a minute to remember that Gen Alpha has (already!) lived through one of the lowest points in our collective mental health—the pandemic. And while yes, kids are resilient, they also likely didn’t escape this dark period unscathed. Parents play a key role in helping this generation understand how to care for their mental health. The good news is, given all they’ve already experienced, Gen Alpha sees little stigma around mental health conversations. But beyond just talking about it, they’ll also be looking to see how we’re dealing with our own mental health issues. As parents, we have a responsibility to model healthy coping mechanisms.
Gen Alpha is a cohort like no other. As they grow and mature their potential to influence our world is infinite—and the sooner we realize that, the better. Because soon enough, it’s going to be Gen Alpha’s world—and we’ll all just be living in it.