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Meet Gen Alpha: How Parents and Teachers are Handling “iPad Kids”

February 24, 2024

For the longest time, right before sitting down to write this article, I, a GenZer, used to think that we – Gen Z – were the coolest generation of all time. Sure, we had our drawbacks (I won’t be going into what), but when it came to being savage and talking about issues that mattered (to us only), we knew how to speak out. Or maybe we would make a reel.

Millennials and boomers are terrified of us because we would openly talk about mental health, family and generational trauma, and the side-effects of corporate culture, sprinkled with our signature sassiness.

BUT ENTER: GEN ALPHA. The generation after us (perhaps snarkier, sassier than us?).

The generations
Let’s start from the basics. When talking about demographics and dividing people according to their age group and traits, we have “Boomer,” “Millennial,” “Gen Z,” and “Gen Alpha”.

They refer to different generations, each characterized by the time period in which these individuals were born.

  1. Baby Boomer (Boomer)
  • Birth years: Generally born between 1946 and 1964.
  1. Millennial
  • Birth Years: Usually considered to be born between 1981 and 1996.
  1. Generation Z (Gen Z)
  • Birth Years: Roughly from the mid-1990s to the early 2010s.
  1. Generation Alpha (Gen Alpha)
  • Birth Years: Starting in the early 2010s and continuing into the 2020s.

Now, each of these generations is known for its own set of characteristics and traits.

For instance, most baby boomers might not know tech very well, but they are well-read and have interesting stories to tell.

For GenZ, the case is quite the opposite. GenZ is known for being tech-friendly (not people-friendly), and well-accustomed to inventing their new lingo (bring on the rizz).

And Millennials? Well, they are stuck in between, and are trying hard to cope and fit in. But they are the ones who have plum positions in jobs and have money in their hands.

Who is Gen Alpha?
Gen Alpha is the demographic born from the early 2010s to the 2020s. These kids are the children of Millennials and are the first generation to be fully raised in the 21st century.

Gen Alpha is also the first-ever generation to grow up in a completely digital world, surrounded by phones and tablets.

Hence, their source of information, entertainment, and even education is the Internet.

Since they are still quite young, specific traits and characteristics associated with them are still emerging.

But here are some traits that they have (according to the Internet):

  • Digital natives
  • Socially aware and vocal
  • Climate advocates
  • Well-traveled at a young age
  • Passionate about mental health
  • Raised by health-conscious parents
  • Prefer visual content
  • More mature than their age
  • Strong self-awareness
  • Independence

Out of all these above-mentioned characteristics, there can be some exceptions; however, the preference for visual content and being digital natives are the two traits that are most commonly observed in Alpha kids. Their digital savviness is both a blessing and a curse for them.

Born during Covid
The Covid-19 pandemic impacted all of us, be it Gen Z, Millennials, or Boomers. The impact was not only economical, the lockdown had serious implications on the mental health of everyone, resulting in psychological problems including frustration, stress, and depression.

During the pandemic, the Gen Alpha kids were fairly young and in the midst of their cerebral development growth years. But instead of exploring the outdoors and playing outside (which was good for them), they found themselves confined to their homes with screens in front of their faces. These screens could be anything from smartphones to smart TVs – anything to distract them. Experts believe that this change impacted the minds of these kids and shaped the way they interact with the world.

Absy Sam, a counseling psychologist from Mumbai, explains, “Lockdowns and remote learning led to a significant surge in screen time for Generation Alpha, potentially affecting their overall well-being and development.”

Lack of social skills
Absy says this overuse of digital gadgets and social media can impact one’s physical development and mobility. In fact, it has also made Gen Alpha socially awkward.

How? She explains that excessive content consumption on phones can indeed impact social skills in Gen Alpha, as face-to-face interactions decrease.

But according to her, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. She says it helps them “become aware of digital and international trends, connecting them with global citizens and agendas”.

‘We get milk from the phone’
“One of our teachers shared a story about how different Gen Z and Gen Alpha actually are,” says Ira Ghosh, head of primary school at Victorious Kids Educares, Pune. She is also the mother of a 2-year-old.

She chuckles, “So, when you ask a kid where milk comes from, they will typically answer ‘cow’ or ‘mom’, right? But when one of my teachers asked the same question to a Gen Alpha kid, he said ‘from phone’.”

Ira explains how this Gen Alpha kid arrived at his answer: his mother generally orders groceries, including milk, on the phone, using third-party apps! (Blinkit, this is on you!)

“That’s how they are,” says Ira.

Ira is correct. Several experts believe that the overindulgence and overuse of digital gadgets and social media can surely impact one’s physical development and mobility.

Absy explains, “Overindulgence can create gaps in creativity and imagination in children, often depriving them of opportunities which help in cognitive development such as team-making, life skills, etc.”

Very low attention span
Ira says that, as a teacher, she has seen a pattern in Gen Alpha: low attention span and an affinity towards consuming video content.

This is no surprise.

For instance, a recent study by the Faculty of Multimedia Communications, TomáÅá Bata University, Czech Republic, says that the major sources of information and education for Gen Alpha kids are Facebook and Netflix. The study also says that they consume content in various forms, but mostly short videos.

This constant consumption of content has made Gen Alpha kids the ones with the shortest attention span.

“We ask our teachers to take breaks every 30 minutes and engage the kids in some activity or the other. We also make sure that we are not just giving them homework that they can go and use the Internet to find the answers to,” says Ira.

“We focus more on critical thinking, as I’ve seen 8-year-old kids hacking each other’s email accounts for fun,” Ira adds.

How do parents manage screen time?
Ira explains that being in the teaching profession for more than 16 years, she plays what she calls “reverse psychology” with her kid.

She and her husband make sure to not make a big deal about “screen time,” which actually helps in ensuring her kid doesn’t make a big deal out of it either.

She says, “Whenever he wants to use the phone or iPad he can; eventually, he gets bored of it after 10-20 minutes and keeps it aside. Now he is more interested in his ‘papa’s

bike’.”

Shweta Aniket from Chennai, who is also the mother of a year-old baby girl, says, “We won’t give her the phone or iPad and plan to keep her away at least until she is 3.” However, she says, “We do let her watch TV with us for 15-20 minutes if we’re watching something.”

Shweta says, “She’s smart; she keeps trying to reach for the phone and takes it when we’re not looking, but we take it away immediately.”

The tech savviness, the social awkwardness, and the low concentration span can make Gen Alpha a handful. (Well, I’m Gen Z. It’s not like we’re any different!)

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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