What comes after Generation Z? Introducing Generation Alpha

Friday, August 01, 2014

Gen Zeds are the most formally educated generation in Australian history – not only have they started their schooling younger, they are also projected to stay in it for longer. Whilst 1 in 10 of the Builders generation have a university degree, 1 in 5 Baby Boomers, 1 in 4 Generation Xers and 1 in 3 Gen Ys, it is projected that 1 in 2 Gen Zeds will be university educated. With the increased focus on formal education and the increased time spent behind screens and on digital devices, it is unsurprising that they live largely indoors; after all, their parents place priority on homework, coaching and extra-curricular activities over a carefree childhood. These sedentary lifestyles are having an impact on our Gen Zeds – based on the current trends, it is projected that in 2027, when all Gen Z have reached adulthood, 77.9% of males and 61.2% of females will be overweight or obese.

However when it comes to getting outdoors and getting active, Gen Zeds have their favourite sports – with Gen Z males top sports being soccer (17%), AFL (15%) and Basketball (10%), and for Gen Z females, their top sports are netball (21%), dance (15%) followed by swimming (9%).

The Zeds are up-ageing because they are growing up faster. In less than a century, the onset of puberty in girls has gone from 14.6 years (1920) to 10.5 years today, with the trend similar for boys, with puberty on setting before the age of 12. They are also in education earlier and are exposed to marketing younger. Despite the environmentally conscientious times, the Zeds are the most marketed-to children of all time and the biggest consumers of any generation of children.

This Internet-savvy, technologically literate generation has been shaped to multitask. They move quickly from one task to another, often placing more value on speed than accuracy. They have only known a wireless, hyperlinked, user-generated world where they are only ever a few clicks away from any piece of knowledge. The world is an open book to Gen Z.

Over the lifetime of a Gen Zed, technology has transformed our society. When the oldest Gen Zeds were 2 years of age in 1997, Google.com was registered as a domain, and when they turned 5, USB flash drives and Nokia 3310 mobile phones were on the market.

Here’s a summary technology timeline in the life of a Gen Z:

Technology Timeline 1995 to 2014

  • 1997: Google.com is registered as a domain
  • 1998: Portable MP3 players enter the market
  • 2000: USB flash drives become available, Nokia 3310 launched
  • 2001: Wikipedia is launched
  • 2003: MySpace is launched
  • 2005: YouTube is launched
  • 2006: Facebook opens to the public
  • 2006: Twitter is launched
  • 2007: Dropbox founded
  • 2007: First iPhone released
  • 2009: Whatsapp founded
  • 2010: iPad is launched
  • 2010: Instagram launched
  • 2012: Facebook has 1 billion active users
  • 2014: Google Glass launched

Gen Alpha

The launch of the iPad in 2010 coincided with the beginning of our current generation of children, Generation Alpha – and there are now 2.5 million Gen Alphas being born around the globe each week. They were born into a world of iPhones (in fact the word of the year in 2010 when they were first born was “app”), YouTube (there are now 100 hours of YouTube videos uploaded every minute, and in this environment they are more influenced by the visual and the video than the written and the verbal), and Instagram (where life is photographed and shared instantly and globally).

It’s a world where for the first time in history the average age of first marriage (29.7) is older than the average age of first birth (27.7) across OECD countries.

It’s a world of Screenagers where not only do they multi-screen and multi-task, but where glass has become the new medium for content dissemination and unlike the medium of paper, it is a kinaesthetic, visual, interactive, connective and portable format.

It’s truly the millennial generation, born and shaped fully in the 21st century, and the first generation that in record numbers will see in the 22nd century as well.

And that’s why we’ve called them Generation Alpha. And so, after Generations X, Y and Z, it’s not a return to the beginning but the start of a whole new nomenclature for an entirely new generation, in this new millennium.

See our latest infographic on Gen Z and Gen Alpha below. To find out more about these Generations, order your copy of Mark McCrindle's newly updated book, the ABC of XYZ

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