• Each week, 2.5 million Generation Alphas are born globally, and in Australia, there are already 1.6 million of them. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Each week, 2.5 million Generation Alphas are born globally.
By
Sharon Verghis

23 Apr 2020 - 8:45 AM  UPDATED 23 Apr 2020 - 10:05 AM

We’ve heard of all the alphabet generations: Generation X, Generation Y, Generation Z.

But what about Generation Alpha?

Coined by Australian social researcher Mark McCrindle in 2005, this demographic label refers to children born since the year 2010.

Each week, 2.5 million Generation Alphas are born globally, and in Australia, there are already 1.6 million of them. From economics to politics, health to technology, science to social structures, they are predicted to have an outsized footprint on what Australia – and the world – will look like in the next 30 years.

Speaker and author Henry Rose Lee described them as “millennials on steroids” – a vastly heightened version of the preceding Generation Zers, born between 1995 and 2009, and hailed as first fully global generation.

Speaker and author Henry Rose Lee described them as “millennials on steroids” – a vastly heightened version of the preceding Generation Zers, born between 1995 and 2009, and hailed as first fully global generation.

Alphas - dubbed ‘Generation Glass’ after the computer and phone screens they engage with 24/7 - will make their tech-savvy elders look like afterthoughts as they come to maturity in the next two decades, says author, educator and human behaviour specialist Dr John Demartini.

Culturally diverse, entrepreneurial, highly educated and so digitally connected that technology for Generation Alpha “is not something separate from themselves, but rather, an extension of their own consciousness and identity,” as one industry analyst has put it, they will transform everything from policing (think drone surveillance) to health, fertility and longevity (think neural interfaces, cyborg-style augmentation and gene editing technology such as CRISPR). 

These pintsized digital natives are already reshaping consumer trends and creating new markets, from household technology purchases to social media influencing: consider the pintsize fashionistas and behemoths behind online powerhouses like Ryan Toys Review.

And as they grow, they’ll reshape social structures as well, from the traditional concept of the nuclear family (Alphas have a higher likelihood of being the children of divorced parents, and are likely to be solo children themselves), to the very concept of race through cross-cultural breeding -  Generation Z-ers in the U.S. are already minority white.

The world of work, too, will be profoundly altered, Demartini says. Many of the jobs Gen As will seek out don’t even exist today. With manual labour outsourced to AI, skills such as lateral thinking, financial and digital literacy, emotional intelligence, foresight, creativity and long-term vision will be prized.

Knowledge at the fingertips 24/7 will lead to a lesser focus on the “real”, physical environment. When you can operate in a virtual world, collaborating with people from all over the world on a project at any time of the day, concepts such as time zones, nation states, citizenship and geographical boundaries become redundant, Demartini says.

Whoever can best imagine and engineer what we need, near-instantly, will inherit the future.

Whoever can best imagine and engineer what we need, near-instantly, will inherit the future.

The boundaries of innovation will be elastic.

“If you look at evolution, we started from nomads to families to kinship to townships to communities to cities to states to nations, now we are moving towards globalisation and onwards, towards [outer space]…they are going to find confirmation in the next decade of micro-organisation in space, there’s going to be  mining in space, colonies…That’s the next phase.”

His tips if you’re a parent of a Generation Alpha child?

Go with the flow. Don’t get too hung up about conformity, educational metrics, or preconceived ideas about learning. Allow them space to think and create, even if their methods seem unorthodox.

He tells a story about being asked by a worried parent to talk to her seemingly disengaged teenage son about his endless computer use. “John, she said, could you try to get him to get a part-time job at McDonalds or get a paper route instead?”

Demartini had a chat with the boy and emerged after an hour. The anxious mother cornered him. “She asked, did you get through to him, get him to think about jobs? I said, sure. I hired him.” It emerged that her son had been creating his own gaming software with an eye to tapping into the burgeoning $US18 billion industry.

“And that’s what I mean when I speak to parents about not projecting labels. Every generation is the same, parents project their values and labels and expectations onto their child and think that’s the wisest thing they can do.

“But children have their own values in any generation, and parents have to learn to honour these values.”

“But children have their own values in any generation, and parents have to learn to honour these values.”

“These children, instead of being conformist, are going to go out and do something extraordinary. They are all about stand-out individuality. Kids of the future are not going to be conforming easily, they’re going to say, ‘I want to think for myself, I have the data’ – often before the parents have it or even understand it. That kind of Elon Musk thinking is going to be pretty mainstream.”

Of course, there will be challenges. These are the so-called climate change babies, after all. Demartini takes it in his stride – and says we should too. The buzz phrase for this generation will be “climate management”, not climate crises: cloud seeding, neutralising hostile weather patterns and environments, finding ways of making currently non-life friendly ecosystems such as on Mars habitable.

“Climate change at the moment is our problem but I think they’ll solve it…I don’t think it’s going to be end of the world. They’ll figure it out.”

Sharon Verghis is a freelance writer.

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