Generation Alpha is the name given to the latest demographic cohort, a generation of kids born entirely in the 21st century. The birth years for this generation fall between 2010 and 2024, and succeeded the Z cohort (1995 – 2009).
The Beta cohort will succeed Generation Alpha beginning in 2025.
Generation Alpha is expected to become the most literate and disruptive generation yet, when it reaches maturity. This is largely because technology has become second nature in their lives.
These children and soon-to-be adults are wired to co-exist with the digital ecosystem in its entirety, and anything out of this reality is unthinkable.
Generation Alpha is defined by technological devices like smartphones and tablets, video games, driverless trains, autonomous cars, and smart speakers that speak back to you.McCrindle
… Why The Name Alpha?
The award-winning Australian social and demographic researcher, Mark McCrindle, preferred the word ‘alpha‘ for the new cohort in 2005.
McCrindle and his team of forecasters ran a survey across Australia to find a fitting name for a new-age generation. Part of the challenge was that the Latin alphabet which was used to name the previous generations, had just expired with the Z cohort.
They wanted a name suited to the realities of the new century, all built around technology and digital disruption.
They chose the word Alpha because it fitted the bill perfectly well:
- First, Alpha is the first letter in the Greek Alphabet and a sound replacement to the Roman/Latin Alphabet.
- Second, Alpha stands for a new beginning as depicted in the Bible, in Isaiah Chapter 44 verse 6.
- In the contemporary world, the word Alpha represents courage, determination, and a strong sense of self.
Another name for the new cohort is Generation Glass, a befitting description for children born looking at digital screens. They are bombarded with screens the moment they are born, and this is all they know when they begin to make sense of life.
The Parents of Alpha Kids
Most generation Alpha kids are born to millennial parents. Millennials were born between 1981 and 1995, and are mathematically primed to become Alpha parents. The eldest millennial was roughly 29 in 2009 and capable of being a mother and father, to the first Alpha child born in 2010.
Likewise, the oldest Millennial will be 44, and the youngest, 30, by 2024, all still capable of parenting the youngest Alphas.
As much as Millennials form the bulk of parents today, Baby Boomers and Xers also continue to produce children. By 2024, the youngest Baby Boomer will average 60 years, while X parents will be 45. All will still be capable of fathering children.
Alpha Kids and Technology
As mentioned earlier, Generation Alpha is expected to be the most technologically literate generation to date, having been exposed to smartphones, tablets, and other digital devices from a very early age.
They’re born into it, not as a new development, an experiment and stumbling innovation, a toy to grapple with, but as a fully-formed service.Joe Nellis, Professor of Global Economy
The first Alpha children were born in 2010, the same year the first iPad was released, and Instagram was unveiled for IOS.
The two innovations proved crucial to the life of children born after that year. The iPad became a hit because it suited well as a plaything for newborns, just as Instagram became the app for older siblings and millennial parents to share baby photos.
As of 2022, tablets and mobile phones are ubiquitous and necessary companions for children at home and in the classroom.
After only a few years, Alpha kids are capable of amazing skills with gadgets. They easily find their way around YouTube, even with limited reading abilities.
To them, typing on small screens will seem old-fashioned when they grow up. Alpha teens will not interface with apps, smartphones, and tablets the way we do today, because they will likely be immersed in virtual spaces with the aid of augmented (AR), and virtual reality (VR) devices.
Alphas view technology as completely integral to how they live, while Generation Z and Millennial parents view it as a tool.
For them it’s a tool. For alphas, it’s a way of life.FLUXTRENDS
Millennial parents also happen to be the driving forces behind technology and many aspects of productivity today. As such,
If Generation Alpha possesses similar behaviours, attitudes and beliefs to that of their parents, then to win a certain segment of millennial consumers (millennial parents), we must target Generation Alpha.GOOGLE
… Enter the Second Wave of Digital Transformation!
Alphas are also experiencing first-hand the implementation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) like no other generation. 4IR encompasses Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Metaverse, all designed to run inside faster data bandwidth in 5G and 6G technologies.
These will lead to new experiences in robotics, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), autonomous automobiles, advanced automation, biotechnology, etc.
While technology has always been about enhancing productivity, improving livelihoods, and solving mathematical headaches, the second wave is about harnessing the existence between the biological being, the digital landscape, and the physical sphere. These should work together, in what is popularly known as cyber-physical systems.
In the years to come,
- Service delivery will be fast and prompt
- Digitalization to become even more simplified
- There will be universal preference for intelligent automation
The changes will make existing user interaction with computers obsolete, with Alphas favoring speed, simplicity, and intelligence.
Alpha Kids and Education
Education for Generation Alpha children is more tuned around personalized learning, which takes full advantage of technology tools and the new 21st-century classroom.
From early primary through secondary education, teaching for Alphas will move away from structured and audio-based instructional methodologies to more hands-on and visual interactions.
They are, and continue to favor 21st-century skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, creativity, communication, and practical literacies.
They prefer to use digital screens and other tech gadgets, to sitting in classrooms and writing notes. The thought of visualizing ideas and designing projects is what education should be going forward.
In any case, we are yet to understand how the future of work and employability will pan out for them:
Generation Alpha will take on jobs that don’t yet exist. This generation will be well educated, and wealthy families especially, will invest in increasingly specialised education. A percentage of alphas will avoid the higher education system altogether and opt for cheaper online learning.Cranfield University Professor Joe Nellis
Generation Alpha Characteristics and Facts:
As mentioned above, Alpha kids are born into a highly digitalized world, which means they will always experience life in a digital realm, like no other generation.
- The first Alpha children were born in 2010
- The last Alpha children will be born in 2024
- Around 2.5 million Alpha children are born every week
- Alphas will total around 2 billion in 2024
- They are largely born to Millennial parents
- They are a very curious lot
- They will not text or use email much when they grow up
- Instead, they will use audio/visual tools for communication
- Many Alphas will grow up wearing health trackers
- Alphas are culturally diverse owing to increasing interracial parents
- They are less attached to family and cultural history
- Have access to a lot of information and data compared to other generations
- When grown-up, Alphas will be very savvy technologically and ‘always on’
- Alphas will be poor at interpersonal and social skills and interact less face to face
- The generation will increasingly become urbane
- Alphas will have to deal with intrusions from technology giants like Google and Amazon
- They are and will continue to be ardent gamers
- They will probably outgrow addictive technology earlier in life
- May develop reduced attention span
- An indoor generation
- Are ethnically diverse
- Are largely receiving personalized learning
As of 2023, the eldest Alpha child is only 13 years old.
Most Alpha children will likely live into the 22nd century, given the promised improvements in health services, general welfare, and positive insight of life.