As a parent of an 8-year-old and a media technologist, I invest significant time in understanding the needs and behaviors of my child and his generation. Sociologists typically classify Generation Z as either ‘post-1995’ or ‘post 9/11,’ acknowledging that key events shape their worldview and social dynamics.
While watching a YouTube video with my son, we stumbled upon a Youtuber referring to themselves as part of ‘Generation Alpha.’ Intrigued, I conducted a Google search and came across the remarkable book “Generation Alpha” by Mark McCrindle and Ashley Fell. This book has had a profound impact on my work, rivaling the significance of the Strauss-Howe Generational Theory.
In my earlier involvement with the UN and the World Bank, my focus revolved around future generations, particularly Millennials, as emerging decision-makers. At that time, the oldest members of Gen Z were assuming their roles as the new purchasing and decision-making cohort. These households propelled progressive ideas and aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Meanwhile, Millennials were entering their 30s, and their behavior patterns were relatively fixed, making it challenging to drive substantial change through communication and development initiatives.
Now, we witness the emergence of Generation Alpha, born after 2010, as the quintessential 21st-century generation. What previous generations termed ‘digital transformation,’ ‘digital inclusion,’ and ‘technology revolution’ are simply integrated into their daily lives. They plan their after-school activities around games like Fortnite or Roblox, and becoming YouTubers represents their aspirations. The notion of cable television appears bizarre to them since all media is accessible on-demand, rendering the concept of cords irrelevant when they never existed in the first place.
As Generation Alpha enters their tween (8-12) and teenage years, they represent the next significant consumer demographic. So, who are they, and how can we effectively engage with them?
To effectively connect with Generation Alpha, consider the following tips:
- Value effort: Acknowledge and appreciate their efforts and approach to challenges, emphasizing the importance of hard work over innate abilities.
- Embrace the power of “yet”: Encourage them to adopt the word “yet” in their vocabulary, transforming “I can’t” into “I can’t, yet.” This mindset fosters resilience and a willingness to persevere.
- Avoid labels: Refrain from labeling children, as it hinders their potential for growth and development. Our brains continue to learn and adapt throughout our lives.
- Reframe failure: Help children understand that failure is a natural part of the learning process. Encourage them to reflect on lessons learned and identify growth opportunities.
- Lead by example: Demonstrate a growth mindset yourself and share personal stories of overcoming challenges and embracing lifelong learning.
By understanding and implementing these strategies, we can effectively connect with and guide Generation Alpha, ensuring their personal growth and success in an ever-evolving world.