If you’re like me, it feels like we just started learning about Generation Z and what makes them different from the millennials. However, time waits for no one and we are now diving into looking at the new generation, the Gen Alpha kids. The term Generation Alpha refers to the group of individuals born between 2010 and 2025. This generation is also known as the “digital natives,” as they have grown up in a world where technology and the internet have always been a part of their daily lives. They are the first generation to have never known a world without smartphones and social media.
As a result, Gen Alpha kids are highly tech-savvy and have a different understanding of the world compared to previous generations. They are also more diverse and globally-minded, as they have grown up in a more connected world. However, with this increased exposure to technology and the internet, there are concerns about the impact on their social skills and attention spans. As a society, we will need to navigate these challenges and find ways to help them thrive in a constantly changing digital landscape.
What are the 7 Living Generations?
To know where we’re going with Generation Alpha, we need to know where we’ve been to understand how we got here. The seven living generations are:
The Greatest Generation (born 1901-1924): The Greatest Generation refers to the group of individuals born between 1901 and 1924. This generation is known for its strong work ethic, traditional values, and sense of civic duty. They grew up during the Great Depression and World War II and many of them served in the military or worked in factories to support the war effort. This generation is also known for its strong sense of sacrifice and selflessness.
They tend to be conservative and have a deep respect for authority. Many of them are also considered to be the “greatest generation” because of their role in rebuilding the country after the Great Depression and World War II, through their hard work, sacrifice, and dedication. They also saw the United States emerge as a superpower, and they were a major force in shaping society into what it is today.
The Silent Generation (born 1925-1945): This generation is known for being hardworking, disciplined, and responsible. They grew up during the Great Depression and World War II, and many of them served in the military or worked in factories to support the war effort. This generation is also known for their stoicism and tendency to keep their emotions in check, which is where the name “Silent Generation” comes from.
This generation, also known as the “Lucky Few” as they were young during the war, and they were able to find stability and prosperity in the post-war economic boom. They are often seen as conformist and traditional, they tend to be conservative, and they believe in the importance of institutions such as family, education, and career. They are also known for their strong work ethic, and they were the first generation to have a high level of education, and they were able to achieve a high standard of living.
Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964): They are the largest generation in history, and they have had a significant impact on the world as we know it. They grew up during a time of great social and political change, such as the Civil Rights Movement, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War. They are also known for their strong sense of individualism, and they have often been associated with counterculture movements of the 1960s, such as the hippie and feminist movements.
Baby Boomers are known for their strong sense of community and civic duty, and many of them have been involved in volunteerism and social activism. They are known for their resistance to change and tendency to hold on to traditional values, also they are considered the first generation to have a high level of consumerism, they were the first to have a high standard of living and they were able to enjoy the prosperity of the post-war economic boom.
Generation X (born 1965-1980): They are often referred to as the “middle child” of generations, as they come after the large Baby Boomers and before the much larger Millennials. Gen X grew up during a time of great social and economic change, such as the rise of technology, the end of the Cold War, and the rise of globalization.
Generation X is known for its independent, skeptical, and self-reliant nature, they are not as idealistic as the Baby Boomers, but they are more pragmatic. They are also known for their adaptability and resilience, as they have had to navigate a rapidly changing world. They are considered to be the first generation to have a high level of technological literacy, and they have been instrumental in shaping the digital landscape we know today.
Millennials or Generation Y (born 1981-1996): They are the largest generation in history, and they have had a significant impact on the world as we know it. They grew up during a time of great technological change, such as the rise of the internet and social media, and have been shaped by events such as 9/11 and the Great Recession. Millennials are known for their strong sense of individuality and their desire for authenticity. They tend to be more open-minded and accepting of diversity and are often associated with progressive values.
They are also known for their use of technology and social media, and they are the first generation to have grown up with the internet. They are also known for their focus on work-life balance and their desire to make a positive impact on the world. They tend to be more educated and diverse than previous generations. They are also known for their tendency to delay traditional markers of adulthood, such as marriage and homeownership.
Generation Z (born 1997-2012): They are the first generation to have grown up with smartphones and social media, and they have been shaped by events such as the War on Terror, the Great Recession, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Generation Z has been the most diverse and multicultural generation in history (until now). They are known for their digital literacy, they are highly tech-savvy, and have a different understanding of the world compared to previous generations.
They are also known for their independence, and ability to multitask, they have a strong sense of self-awareness, and they are the first generation to be raised by the Internet. They are also known for their entrepreneurial spirit, for being more realistic, and pragmatic, and for being more skeptical about institutions. They tend to be more politically and socially aware, and they are more likely to be engaged in activism and community service. They are also more environmentally conscious, and they tend to be more frugal and financially aware.
…and last, but not least, Generation Alpha (born 2013-2025) which we will be diving into below.
It’s important to note that these dates and labels are approximate and used to group people of similar ages and experiences together, but it’s not an exact science. For instance, I consider myself a “Xennial“, also dubbed the “Oregon Trail Generation” (#IYKYK).
What Traits Do Gen Alpha Have?
Generation Alpha has grown up in a world where technology and the internet have always been a part of their daily lives. As a result, they have certain traits that set them apart from previous generations. Some of the traits that are commonly associated with Generation Alpha include:
- High tech-savviness: Gen Alpha kids are highly proficient with technology and the internet, as they have grown up with it. They are often more comfortable using digital devices and navigating the internet than previous generations.
- Diverse and globally-minded: Gen Alpha kids have grown up in a more connected world, and they are more diverse and globally-minded than previous generations. They are exposed to different cultures, languages, and ideas from a young age.
- Adaptable and resilient: Gen Alpha kids have had to navigate a rapidly changing world, and they have developed the ability to adapt and be resilient in the face of change.
- Short attention span: As they have grown up with constant access to the internet and social media, Gen Alpha kids may have shorter attention spans than previous generations and be focused more on instant gratification.
- Independent: As they have grown up in a world where they have easy access to information and resources, Gen Alpha kids tend to be independent learners and thinkers, who are able to find information and solutions on their own.
- Environmentally conscious: Gen Alpha is known for being environmentally aware, they are more likely to be interested in environmental issues and sustainability, and more likely to support actions that benefit the environment. Generation Alpha is even more environmentally aware than Generation Z, they have grown up in a time where environmental issues are more pressing and more in the public consciousness. They are more understanding of climate change and the effect it is having on our world, so much so that
It’s important to note that not all members of Generation Alpha will have these traits and characteristics, and the traits of a generation are not set in stone. These are general observations and should not be considered definitive. However, they are a great measuring point in terms of an entire generation of society and what key factors are in their makeup. Let’s look into these themes and how they are different from Generation Z.
How is Gen Alpha Different from Gen Z?
Both Generation Alpha, also known as the “digital natives,” and Generation Z, also known as the iGeneration, have grown up in a world where technology and the internet have been a part of their daily lives. However, there are some key differences between the two generations that set them apart.
- Age: Generation Alpha is born between 2013 and 2025, while Generation Z is born between 1997 and 2012. Again, this is not a definitive timeline but is close enough to group together life experiences for these global generations.
- Tech-savviness: Both generations are highly proficient with technology and the internet, but Generation Alpha has grown up with even more advanced technology and the internet, making them even more tech-savvy than Generation Z. It is important to note that the level of proficiency and understanding of technology can vary greatly among individuals within each generation.
Proficiency with technology and the internet is not just determined by the availability of technology but also by the opportunities and access to education, resources, and support. Therefore, proficiency and tech-savviness are not only determined by the availability of technology but also by the opportunities and access to education, resources, and support.
- Diverse: Generation Alpha is even more diverse and globally-minded than Generation Z, which is already considered the most diverse generation in history. Generation Alpha is the first generation to be born into a world where technology and the internet have always been a constant presence, making it easier to connect with people from different backgrounds and cultures. Additionally, many Generation Alpha kids come from multiracial and multicultural families, which also contributes to their diversity.
- Attention span: Generation Alpha may have even shorter attention spans than Generation Z, due to the constant access to the internet and social media from a very young age. It is suggested that there is a concern that due to the constant access to the internet and social media from a very young age, Generation Alpha may have shorter attention spans than Generation Z.
Studies have shown that excessive screen time can have a negative impact on children’s attention spans, and it is possible that Generation Alpha, who have had access to technology and the internet from a younger age than Generation Z, may be more affected by this. However, it’s important to note that attention span is a complex trait that is influenced by many factors, including genetics, environment, and personal habits.
- Adaptability and resilience: Generation Alpha has grown up in a world that is even more rapidly changing than the one that Generation Z grew up in, so they may be even more adaptable and resilient than Generation Z. With technology and the internet advancing at an even faster pace, as well as global events like the COVID-19 pandemic which have had a significant impact on the world, this rapid change may have resulted in Generation Alpha being more adaptable and resilient than Generation Z as they have had to navigate a more rapidly changing world at a much younger, more impressionable age in their formative years.
- Environmentally conscious: Generation Alpha is even more environmentally aware than Generation Z as they have grown up in a time when environmental issues are more pressing and more in the public consciousness. They are more understanding of climate change and the effect it is having on our world, so much so that many of them are actively taking steps to reduce their own carbon footprint and advocate for policies to address environmental issues.
They are also more likely to make purchasing decisions based on a company’s environmental practices. As a result, companies are increasingly recognizing the importance of sustainable practices to appeal to this generation of consumers. Overall, Generation Alpha is shaping up to be a generation that prioritizes environmental concerns in their personal and professional lives.
What is the Gen Alpha Generation Known For?
In addition to the characteristics we’ve already looked at, Generation Alpha is known for their diverse and inclusive mindset. They have grown up in a world where diverse perspectives and cultures are celebrated, and this has shaped their understanding of the world. They are more accepting and understanding of different cultures, races, and lifestyles, and they actively seek out diverse perspectives and experiences. This can be seen in the way they consume media and in the way they interact with others.
Generation Alpha is also known for their entrepreneurial spirit. They have grown up in an era of rapid technological change and economic disruption, which has instilled in them a sense of innovation and a willingness to take risks. They are not afraid to challenge the status quo and think outside the box. This entrepreneurial spirit can be seen in the way they approach their education and careers, as well as in their personal projects and hobbies.
Finally, Gen A is known for their use of social media and their ability to navigate different platforms. They have become experts at creating and consuming content online. They are able to create and share content, connect with others, and consume news and information in a way that is seamless and intuitive. This ability to navigate the online world will be a valuable skill for them as they enter the workforce and navigate the digital economy.
The Most Diverse Generation
As mentioned, this group of young people is quickly becoming the world’s most diverse generation. As mainly the children of millennials, they have been exposed to a wide range of cultures and backgrounds from a young age. This diversity is reflected in the way they think, the way they learn, and the way they interact with others. They have a natural inclination towards inclusivity and respect for different perspectives.
This diversity in their backgrounds also means that they are more open to new ideas and ways of thinking, which makes them more adaptable and resilient in the face of change.
Additionally, this diversity also brings a unique set of skills and talents to the table, making them an asset in any workforce. This diversity of perspectives and experiences allows them to approach problems from different angles, which can lead to more innovative and effective solutions. They are also able to connect with and understand a wide range of people, which is essential for building strong relationships and communicating effectively.
This diversity also makes them well-suited for working in multicultural environments, and they are able to navigate different cultural norms and customs with ease. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected and diverse, the skills and talents that Generation Alpha brings to the table will be in high demand, making them valuable assets in any workforce. As a result, they are well-positioned to lead the way in creating a more inclusive and equitable society.
Generation Alpha and Technology
I have eluded multiple times now how tech-savvy Generation Alpha is due to the exact time they were born into this world. In this era of digital technology, this latest generation has learned at an early age what many of us were introduced to much later in life. There will be a future need for this as we enter an increasingly digital world.
This tech-savviness of Generation Alpha sets them up well for the future, as technology continues to play an ever-increasing role in our lives. They have a natural understanding of how technology works, and they are able to use it to solve problems and create new opportunities.
They are also highly adaptable and able to learn new technologies quickly, which will be a valuable skill in an ever-changing technological landscape. Additionally, their familiarity with the digital world will make them well-suited for careers in technology-related fields such as software development, cybersecurity, and data analysis, plus others that don’t even exist yet but certainly will in the future.
This generation’s ability to adapt and be comfortable with technology will be an important asset as we continue to see more and more jobs being replaced by technology. Their future workplace will look nothing like what we see today and we need to remember that, as the adults in the room, we are the ones responsible for readying them for the real world.
Generation Alpha in the Classroom
One of the most notable ways that Generation Alpha is changing the classroom is through their use of mobile devices. Many students in this generation have access to smartphones and tablets, which they are able to use to access educational materials, collaborate with their classmates, and participate in online discussions. This has led to a shift towards more blended and online learning, with students able to access educational materials and resources at any time and from any location.
Another way that Generation Alpha is changing the classroom is through their use of social media and other online platforms. They are able to connect and collaborate with their classmates and teachers online, which can help to create a more inclusive and interactive learning environment. Additionally, this generation is also exposed to a wide range of perspectives and ideas through social media and the internet, which can broaden their understanding of the world and the issues that they are learning about. They are very hands-on and when they are hooked on a topic, they want to know everything there is to know about it (and if it’s a problem, they want to find a way to solve it).
They will all be going through school in the time of AI writing, and that will only get more sophisticated the older they get. For the first time, we won’t be concerned about plagiarism as much as a machine doing the work for them, which most certainly means we need to change our expectations of how we assess learning. One of the key considerations will be how to assess critical thinking and creativity, which are essential skills that cannot be replicated by machines.
Educators will need to focus on developing activities and assignments that require students to analyze, interpret, and create, rather than simply regurgitate information. Additionally, as AI writing technology becomes more advanced, it will be important to teach students how to evaluate the credibility of sources and identify when information has been generated by a machine.
Another important aspect to consider is how to prepare students for the future workforce. As AI and automation continue to replace certain jobs, it will be important to focus on teaching skills that cannot be easily replicated by machines, such as emotional intelligence, problem-solving, and creativity. This will ensure that students are prepared for the jobs of the future, and are able to adapt to the changing job market.
The biggest piece to take away from this is that this generation of children needs to be taught in different ways than older generations. With both the digital footprint and attention span they have alone, they simply will not take in information the same way as we have tried before. Even though they may end up being the most formally educated generation in history, we need to meet them where they are. We cannot change an entire generation of society over a few hours a day in our individual classrooms.
Gen Alpha Projections
Generation Alpha is projected to be the largest generation yet, with an estimated global population of 2 billion individuals worldwide. Due to their large numbers and the timing of their birth, they are expected to have a significant impact on society and the economy. Here are a few projections for Generation Alpha:
- Demographic Impact: Generation Alpha is projected to be more diverse than previous generations, with a higher proportion of individuals from ethnic minorities and immigrants. This diversity is expected to shape the way they interact with others and the way they view the world.
- Economic Impact: Generation Alpha is expected to have a significant impact on the economy, as they will make up a large portion of the workforce and consumer base. They are also projected to be highly entrepreneurial, which could lead to the creation of new businesses and job opportunities.
- Environmental Impact: Due to their environmentally conscious mindset, Generation Alpha is expected to drive the demand for sustainable products and services, and push for more environmentally-friendly policies.
- Technological Impact: As digital natives, Generation Alpha is expected to be highly proficient in technology and have a strong understanding of how to use digital tools to solve problems. They will be the first generation to grow up in the age of Artificial Intelligence, IoT, and Advanced technologies, therefore they will have a more advanced technological understanding than previous generations.
- Education Impact: Generation Alpha’s tech-savviness and diverse background will change the way education is approached, and teachers will have to adapt to this new generation of students and use technology to engage them more effectively.
It is important to note that these are projections and the actual impact of Generation Alpha will depend on various factors such as economic conditions, societal changes, and global events. There is no arguing that out of all the recent emerging generations, the Generation Alpha babies will certainly be the ones who can look at the big picture, find the common denominator, and will push us all to be better versions of ourselves.
Prominent Generation Alpha Characteristics
To sum it all up, our mini millennials have a way of understanding that is markedly different than older generations. The change started with the members of Generation Z, but due to the social events these youngsters have lived through in addition to the technology advances that are aging along with them, the children of Generation Y are more digitally fluent and tech-savvy than any previous generation.
They are natural multitaskers, adept at navigating multiple screens and devices simultaneously. Additionally, they are known for their strong sense of social justice and activism and are unafraid to speak up for what they believe in. I have full faith that these kids are going to change the world, we’re just along for the ride!
What’s After Gen Alpha?
Before we know it, Generation Beta will be here. Gen Beta will be born between 2025 to 2039. These new kids, just like the other younger generations, are projected to have different values, behaviors, and preferences than older generations. Educators will again need to adjust their strategies to effectively reach and communicate with this new generation. The technological advances they will live through will make today’s children look like amateurs.
It is also important to note that not all members of a generation will have the same characteristics, and it is important to consider individual differences. However, just like every other generation, you will be able to see trends and examples that make Generation Beta who they are as a whole. I, for one, am looking forward to it!
Keeping Up with Generation Alpha and the 4 Keys
Determining how to adapt your classroom to work well with Generation Alpha isn’t difficult, it just needs to ebb and flow with the students and where they are (physically, mentally, and emotionally). Being flexible is the key to making all of this work. The key is engagement. There are four keys to student engagement that I discuss in my video training challenge called “Finding Your Student Engagement Formula” and it walks you through those four keys and how to implement them in the classroom.
If you are interested in registering (it’s totally free), visit the Finding Your Student Engagement Formula Challenge registration page and you will be notified the next time the series is available.
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