Generation Alpha describes the current generation of children born between 2010 and 2024. They are more digitally and globally connected than any other generation before them. We chose to name them Generation Alpha, because they are not a return to the old but the start of something new. So, how do they differ to the generations that went before them? Here are four distinctives of the first generation to be fully born in the 21st Century.
1. Growing up digital
We all use devices, but we didn’t all have them from our youngest years. The age at which one is exposed to a technology, experience or social shift determines how embedded it becomes in one’s psyche and lifestyle. 2010 was the year that Instagram launched, the iPad was released, and “App” entered our lexicon. It was also the year Gen Alpha began being born. More than any previous generation, this is a visual, digital, mobile, social, and global generation. They are more connected and technologically supplied than any that went before. Generation Alpha are empowered through technology. They create content rather than just consume it and through their technology have become more collectivist than individualist. With devices in hand, they have asymmetrical power to influence brands, shape the culture and even catalyse policy change.
2. The COVID-19 generation
While some posited that COVID-19 and its lockdowns would lead to a baby boom- the so-called “Covidians” or “Coronas”, this hasn’t eventuated. However, there is a COVID-19 generation, and that is those who have lived through the past 18 months in their youngest formative years. From learning at home to missed milestone birthdays, from cancelled vacations to Zoom catchups with grandparents, the fingerprints of COVID-19 will mark this generation, and some of this positively. In many decades, these COVID-19 years will be seen to have been formative for them.
3. Globally connected and influenced
Alphas are the first generation fully born in this new millennium and so they are the first to be fully shaped in a global culture. While brands, technologies, music and movies have been borderless for some time, for Alphas, their social media contacts, video games competitors, newsfeed and playlists are truly global. In a world of Tik Tok, K-pop, WeChat and Manga, the popular culture shaping today’s children is as likely to flow from East to West as the other way around. Whether using VPNs to stream shows from their preferred location or learning in a global classroom where lessons and participants are brought in from afar, more than any before them, this is a global generation.
4. Their grandparents’ generation
Each generation is a reaction to the one that went before, and the Alphas are no different. For them, the behavioural pendulum is swinging back to fiscal conservatism and social pragmatism. Unlike their parents, who experienced economic booms and carefree debt, this generation is being shaped in an era of economic volatility and rising housing unaffordability.
In such times, saving is a virtue, job security matters and the focus once again returns to the financial destination, not just the journey. Hard work is back, resilience is du jour and second-hand is cool again. In some ways, as consumers they resemble their grandparents, but with crypto.