Raising Generation Alpha Kids: A Parenting Guide
For years, the generation of Millennials has been the primary focus of many experts across a variety of industries. As the first group to be raised in a predominantly digital world, their behaviors and desires seem to have been picked apart to examine what their rise in society means for everyone else as well as their economic impact. However, as Millennials have aged, they have made way for a new generation, their own children: Generation Alpha. Perhaps you are a Millennial parent yourself, or the secondary caretaker of a Generation Alpha child, and wondering what this new generation means and what it will bring. If you have these questions, know you are not alone.
What is Generation Alpha?
Put simply, Generation Alpha are typically the children of Millennials, though some are the children of Generation X or even Baby Boomer parents. It is generally understood that Millennials are those individuals born between the years of 1981 and 1996, while Generation Alpha are those children born from 2010 to the year 2025, making them the first group to be born entirely within the 21st century. This means that the Generation Alpha age range includes those kids who are around 9 or 10 years old, depending on their birthday, and younger. With an estimated 2.5 million Alpha births each year, predictions indicate that Alphas will total approximately 2 billion in number when the last of them are born in 2025.
The name Alpha was first used by Mark McCrindle, an award-winning Australian social and demographic researcher, in 2005 when he and his research team conducted a survey across Australia regarding the name of the upcoming new generation. Based on that research and their discussions, the team eventually landed on Alpha as the new generation’s name. The name was quickly picked up by others as it seems to perfectly represent the new rise in lives being built around technology and other sciences in the 21st century.
Additionally, the preceding generational cohort, Generation Z, finished using the Latin alphabet. So, beginning with the Greek alphabet seems like a reasonable and logical choice as we move forward.
As with every new generation, Alpha children bring with them their own unique challenges and considerations when it comes to being their parents or caretakers. One of the most notable and obvious differences between Alphas and the generations before is their experience with and expectations of technology and media outlets. It is predicted that they will be the most technologically savvy generation on the planet. Not surprising considering the first Alphas were born in 2010, the same year the first iPad was released by Apple and Instagram was introduced as a social media platform. These technologies are now so prevalent in many aspects of the youth experience (home, school, etc), they have become seemingly necessary companions.
Social media, digital innovation, and smartphones are just a few staples this generation is used to. Today, there are a lot of millennial parents that introduce their children to media outlets through technological devices before they can even talk. This just goes to show how much of an influence and impact this content is having on the ideas and opinions of this young generation. With social networking platforms, kids can have information right at their fingertips. Whether they’re watching their favorite influencers, interacting with other consumers, or being exposed to a variety of topics, the media can really influence how children perceive their surrounding environment.
The result of all this technology is a debate surrounding how it should be monitored and controlled. Unlike other generations, Alphas are being born into this technology rather than introduced to it, which means they do not have the capacity to determine for themselves how best to consume these technologies. Rather, they intuitively know how to use these tools specifically if they are presented as touchscreens. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all solution to the problems presented by the use of technology at a young age, though research will continue to evolve as Alphas grow older and the effects are observed. While it may be too soon to see how this content will influence them, we are certain that the ideas and opinions of this generation will differ from their older generations. In the meantime, it is up to parents to determine what they believe is best for their children. Many Millennials, especially those on the younger end of the generation, also grew up with technology present in a significant portion of their childhood, though not all. Using technology at a young age can help to improve educational experiences and knowledge. However, the concern of extended screen time is not unfounded and could impact a child’s development.
A Wealth of Information
Perhaps one of the best and worst things about raising a Generation Alpha child is the abundance of information parents currently have available to them. Modern parents can find the answer to nearly any question they have online with just a few clicks of the mouse. However, with that access comes the availability of many different opinions on how parents should or ought to be doing things. Sometimes these assertions will be supported by scientific facts and other times they won’t, but it can be difficult to tell the difference with so many options available to you. In these cases, it is best to research what you can but simply setting consistent boundaries or expectations for your child can go a long way.
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