Meet Generation Alpha. Here's How Their Lives Will Be Different Than Previous Generations
These kids have social media profiles before they're even born.
You probably know a thing or two about the most widely recognized generations in the United States. There are baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1965), Gen Xers (1965 to 1979), millennials (1980 to 1995), and Gen Zers (1996 to 2009). So who comes next? Meet Generation Alpha: the kiddos born in 2010 and beyond, who are currently being raised, for the most part, by millennials.
You might not have heard much about Generation Alpha yet—after all, the oldest of the group is in second grade and the youngest is still in diapers—but you will. To help you understand Generation Alpha better, we've rounded up the most important ways their lives will be different than ours, from how they use social media to how they receive medical care.
Who is Generation Alpha?
Generation Alpha is the demographic born between 2010 and 2024, according to Mark McCrindle, a social researcher in Australia, who coined the term in 2009 with his book The ABC of XYZ: Understanding the Global Generations. He guesses that the generation will grow to be 2 billion strong by the time a new generation takes over in 2025, according to AdAge.
The Alphas are the first generation to be born entirely in the 21st century and, as such, they will be the most tech-infused demographic to date. "Gen Zs, the group born between 1995 and 2010, grew up when social media was being established," notes business strategy group Flux Trends. "For them, it's a tool. For Alphas, it's a way of life."
They'll have a digital presence before they're even born.
While members of every other generation have had to reserve their own domain name and come up with their own social media handles, members of Generation Alpha won't. That's because, in many cases, their parents will have already done it for them.
In fact, one 2018 survey by domain provider GoDaddy.com found that 48 percent of millennial parents believe it's important for their child to have an online presence early in life, compared to just 27 percent of Gen Xers. A 2014 survey conducted by Gerber found that close to 40 percent of moms aged 18 to 34 created social media accounts for their kids before the child's first birthday.
In some cases, parents will even choose their baby's name based on online availability. The GoDaddy survey found that, of the 20 percent of millennial parents who had created a website for their children, 79 percent of them had changed the top contenders for their baby's name based on the availability of that domain name.
Of course, once these children are old enough to manage their own digital footprints, they'll have to contend with the content their parents posted under their names. As the Chicago Tribune pointed out in 2015, "think ahead to when your 13-year-old asks why you posted that bathtub photo when he was a baby."
And when they're older, they'll have multiple online identities.
Social media is already a highly curated and stylized reflection of our actual lives—and Generation Alpha will take that to a whole new level. "On one platform, for instance, they may live-stream their innermost thoughts to a select group of close friends," notes Hotwire, a global PR and integrated marketing agency that authored a report on the generation. "On another, they may post stylishly curated photos for the whole world to see."
Their schools will be way more digitally savvy.
For the past decade or so, schools have incorporated a decent amount of computers, laptops, and tablets into their lesson plans. But by the time the bulk of Generation Alpha makes it to elementary school, things will be even more interactive. According to Flux Trends, "in primary and secondary school, alphas will move from a structured, auditory method of learning to a visual, hands-on method."
They continue: "There are already schools that have shifted from the traditional forms of interacting with Gen Z to the methods more suited to the incoming Alpha students, like the use of iPads rather than textbooks to create projects and share work with teachers and classmates. Students can already digitally contact their teachers with questions on their homework."
And their skills will become much more specialized.
As automation becomes even more refined, members of Generation Alpha will need to develop deeper skillsets to thrive in the changing job market. Michael Merzenich, a neuroscientist and pioneer in brain plasticity research, told Hotwire that he hypothesizes that there will be an enormous focus on specialization, which could alter the physical makeup of the human brain and turn the Alphas into a class of "super-specialists."
According to Hotwire, that could lead to cultural and social divides, "with a 'superclass' of individuals taking highly specialized roles while others are left without meaningful work."
They'll be extremely comfortable with Artificial Intelligence (AI).
By now, most of us are perfectly comfortable with touch screens, iPhones, and social media. But the newest generation will be all about AI. From utilizing facial recognition software and surgical robots to wearing health trackers practically from birth, interacting with computers on a more intimate level will be second nature to members of Generation Alpha.
"As technology develops alongside Generation Alpha, user-friendly trends such as AI and voice will become increasingly common methods of communication between human and machine, leading to keyboards and screens giving way to controller-free gestural interfaces and two-way conversations between devices and humans," reports Hotwire. That means asking Alexa to tell a funny joke is just the tip of the iceberg for these up-and-comers.
They'll use telemedicine for everything from diagnostic assistance to therapy.
Telemedicine, the practice of providing healthcare for patients remotely, is a growing industry. In 2016, an estimated 61 percent of U.S. healthcare institutions and 40 to 50 percent of U.S. hospitals used telemedicine, according to a report to Congress by the Office of Health Policy.
But patients of the future will become even more accustomed to telemedicine, from meeting with their healthcare providers over video chat to sending them photos of their symptoms, according to the Cleveland Clinic. And fortunately, doing so will help cut the costs of healthcare and reduce patient wait times. A win-win for the Alphas!
They'll come to know (and expect) customized experiences from every sector.
Marketers, take heed: The next generation is going to change the retail experience. "[Alphas] are going to expect the same interactive, responsive experiences from every brand," Laura Macdonald, head of the North American consumer division at Hotwire, told DigiDay.
"So if clothing companies start using AR to help people create bespoke experiences—which brands like Nike already are—while shopping, Generation Alpha will expect the same from grocery stores, or even when it comes to buying car insurance," she says. And for more ways the world is about to change, check out these 25 Crazy Ways Your Home Will Be Different in 2030—According to Futurists.
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