17 Jun 2021

Understanding Generation Alpha: Kids born between 2010 and 2024

From Nine To Noon, 11:30 am on 17 June 2021


Children born between 2010 and 2024 - aka Generation Alpha - will be the largest generation in history, so what do we know about what their lives will look like?

Social researcher Mark McCrindle, who helped create the moniker 'Gen  Alpha', gives Kathryn Ryan some insight.

three cute kids

Photo: Nathan Dumlao / Unsplash

For better or worse, many of today's kids spend around 75 percent of their time outside of school in a screen realm that's digital, social, mobile and visual, McCrindle says.

While there are some benefits to this screen time, the big downside is less time outside and less unstructured free play.

"It's like we've entered a global experiment, putting screens in front of children from the youngest age… and in their formative years."

Parents don't have to be digital experts to raise digital native kids, McCrindle says, it's more important to provide an environment where children are encouraged and supported.

Their work pathways will be multi-sector, multi-career and many will create their own employment outcomes, he says.

To best perform in this freeform digital environment, children need to become 'lifelong learners' and develop strengths in doing what computers cannot do - "which is to make decisions amid complexity, to be creative, to interact well with people and to have empathy and to connect".

While Covid-19 has been hard on Generation Alpha in some ways, McCrindle believes experiencing hard things early in life helps foster a sense that stability and hard work matter.

"That is a silver lining in this Covid cloud - I think it will create a greater sense of character in this generation of young people.

"They've seen their parents work from home and the adaptation of that. They've been able to do some learning from home and experienced the flexibility of that. If we can decouple learning from environment, that's a fantastic outcome for a digital future."

While the internet offers children incredible opportunities for connection and learning, it's also a place where they are exposed to fake news, feelings of inadequacy from too much comparison and bullying, McCrindle says.

"Parents have to be wary, have to take control of those devices, have to create a safe environment and make sure they're aware of what their children are accessing and really guide them through that so they can access the best of the digital world but avoid the negatives."

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