What Is Generation Alpha?

Updated January 19, 2024 | Posted November 4, 2020
Generation Alpha were born between 2010 and 2025

Kids in the Gen­er­a­tion Alpha club are the first gen­er­a­tion to be born entire­ly with­in the 21st cen­tu­ry. They’re immersed in tech­nol­o­gy and described by diver­si­ty in key areas, includ­ing their race and eth­nic­i­ty, fam­i­ly struc­ture and fam­i­ly finances. They’re also the first gen­er­a­tion to expe­ri­ence an ear­ly child­hood defined by the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic.

This post takes a clos­er look at what we know — for now — about America’s youngest citizens.

Fre­quent­ly asked ques­tions about Gen­er­a­tion Alpha

What birth years define Gen­er­a­tion Alpha?

While def­i­n­i­tions vary, the term Gen­er­a­tion Alpha typ­i­cal­ly refers to the group of indi­vid­u­als born between 2013 and 2025. This is the gen­er­a­tion after Gen Z.

How large is Gen­er­a­tion Alpha?

Every nine sec­onds, a mem­ber of Gen­er­a­tion Alpha is born in the Unit­ed States. Every week, 2 mil­lion mem­bers are born world­wide. By 2025 — when one age group gives way to anoth­er — Gen­er­a­tion Alpha will be near­ly 2 bil­lion mem­bers strong across the globe, accord­ing to social ana­lyst Mark McCrindle.

Who came before Gen­er­a­tion Alpha?

Gen­er­a­tion Z came before Gen­er­a­tion Alpha. Mem­bers of Gen­er­a­tion Z were born between 1997 to 2012 accord­ing to the Pew Research Cen­ter. Gen­er­a­tion Z fol­lows mem­bers of Gen­er­a­tion Y, more com­mon­ly known as mil­len­ni­als, who were born between 1981 and 1996.

One way to envi­sion how these groups fit togeth­er: Mem­bers of Gen­er­a­tion Alpha are often the chil­dren of mil­len­ni­als and the younger sib­lings of Gen­er­a­tion Z.

How does Gen­er­a­tion Alpha com­pare to Gen­er­a­tion Z?

Com­par­ing Gen­er­a­tion Alpha ver­sus Gen­er­a­tion Z sta­tis­tics — much like the groups’ mem­bers them­selves — are still devel­op­ing. How­ev­er, if cur­rent trends hold, Gen­er­a­tion Alpha will be more racial­ly and eth­ni­cal­ly diverse than Gen­er­a­tion Z. Mem­bers of Gen­er­a­tion Alpha will also be more like­ly to go to col­lege, more like­ly to grow up in a sin­gle-par­ent house­hold and more like­ly to be sur­round­ed by col­lege-edu­cat­ed adults.

While mem­bers of both age groups have grown up with tech­nol­o­gy at their fin­ger­tips, Gen Alpha kids have a key advan­tage. As McCrindle puts it: They are the most mate­ri­al­ly endowed and tech­no­log­i­cal­ly lit­er­ate gen­er­a­tion to ever grace the planet!”

How diverse is Gen­er­a­tion Alpha?

In the Unit­ed States, white peo­ple rep­re­sent a shrink­ing share of the nation’s pop­u­la­tion. For instance: Gen Alpha is the first gen­er­a­tion in which the white pop­u­la­tion is a minor­i­ty share of the over­all pop­u­la­tion at 48%. This com­pares to 51% for Gen Z, 55% for mil­len­ni­als, 60% for Gen X and 72% for baby boomers. 

POPULATION BY BIRTH COHORT GENERATION AND RACE AND ETHNICITY IN UNITED STATES

So far, Gen­er­a­tion Alpha kids is the nation’s most racial­ly and eth­ni­cal­ly diverse gen­er­a­tion yet. Chil­dren of col­or rep­re­sent the major­i­ty of Gen Alpha and their demo­graph­ic break­down in 2022 was: 

  • 26% Lati­no or Hispanic
  • 16% Black
  • 7% Asian Amer­i­can or Pacif­ic Islander
  • 6% Two or more races
  • 2% Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native

What do we know about Gen­er­a­tion Alpha and technology?

Gen­er­a­tion Alpha kicked off right after Apple launched its iPad and Insta­gram made its debut. Sur­round­ed by tech­nol­o­gy from the get-go, this group views dig­i­tal tools as omnipresent — not just trendy accessories.

Grow­ing up logged on and linked up — aid­ed by the likes of Siri and Alexa and engrossed in videos and all things visu­al — can have its advan­tages, includ­ing greater dig­i­tal lit­er­a­cy and adapt­abil­i­ty. But a child­hood defined by tech­nol­o­gy can also lead to chal­lenges, such as impaired social devel­op­ment, reduced cog­ni­tive func­tion­ing, obe­si­ty and men­tal health prob­lems, experts warn. High lev­els of social media use among chil­dren and teens are asso­ci­at­ed with a num­ber of issues, includ­ing depres­sion, anx­i­ety, inad­e­quate sleep (which can dis­rupt neu­ro­log­i­cal devel­op­ment), low self-esteem, poor body image, dis­or­dered eat­ing and more. Cyber­bul­ly­ing is also an increas­ing­ly com­mon prob­lem for today’s kids, with 1 in 6 par­ents report­ing that their child has expe­ri­enced such harass­ment, accord­ing to researchers. 

What do we know about Gen­er­a­tion Alpha and edu­ca­tion­al attainment?

From 2013 to 2022 — the first nine years of Gen­er­a­tion Alpha — the Unit­ed States saw edu­ca­tion­al attain­ment improve among adults between the ages of 25 and 34. Dur­ing this time frame, adults grew more like­ly to hold a bachelor’s (23% to 28%) or grad­u­ate (10% to 12%) degree as their high­est lev­el of edu­ca­tion­al attain­ment. In addi­tion, the share of high school stu­dents who didn’t grad­u­ate on time fell (18% to 14%) dur­ing the 201314 to 201920 school years.

If these trends hold, Gen­er­a­tion Alpha kids will be more like­ly to grow up sur­round­ed by col­lege-edu­cat­ed adults com­pared to pri­or gen­er­a­tions. And, once in the class­room, they will be more like­ly to extend their own aca­d­e­m­ic careers and earn a col­lege degree.

What do we know about Gen­er­a­tion Alpha and fam­i­ly structure?

In Gen­er­a­tion Alpha’s first year, the share of kids grow­ing up in a sin­gle-par­ent fam­i­ly was 35%. Thir­teen years pri­or — in 2000 — this same sta­tis­tic was only 31%. Since 2013, this sta­tis­tic has held steady at 34% or 35%. If this pat­tern holds, Gen­er­a­tion Alpha kids will be more like­ly to live in sin­gle-par­ent house­holds — and in greater num­bers — than any age group before them.

His­tor­i­cal­ly, kids in sin­gle-par­ent house­holds have been more like­ly to strug­gle com­pared to their peers in two-par­ent fam­i­lies. For instance, kids raised by just one par­ent are more like­ly to live in pover­ty and expe­ri­ence the con­se­quences of grow­ing up poor. Such effects can be pro­found and wide-rang­ing, includ­ing lim­it­ed access to qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion and health care, low­er edu­ca­tion­al attain­ment, health and behav­ioral health prob­lems, increased risk of con­tact with the child wel­fare and jus­tice sys­tems and oth­er chal­lenges. Under­ly­ing fac­tors about fam­i­lies — such as strong and sta­ble rela­tion­ships, parental men­tal health, socioe­co­nom­ic sta­tus and access to resources — have a greater impact on child suc­cess than does fam­i­ly struc­ture alone, research indicates.

How has the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic impact­ed Gen­er­a­tion Alpha?

While some experts are already call­ing COVID-19 a defin­ing moment” for Gen­er­a­tion Alpha, it’s still too ear­ly to know the long-term effects of the pan­dem­ic on America’s fam­i­lies and future.

Here’s what we do know: In ear­ly 2020, the pan­dem­ic caused wide­spread eco­nom­ic hard­ship and iso­lat­ed fam­i­lies in unprece­dent­ed ways. Mil­lions of par­ents expe­ri­enced job loss, finan­cial and health care insta­bil­i­ty, ill­ness and loss of loved ones — all while jug­gling their children’s care and education. 

After the pan­dem­ic ini­tial­ly caused child care and school clo­sures, many schools reopened using vir­tu­al learn­ing and most employ­ers tran­si­tioned to remove work. Tech­nol­o­gy came to the res­cue for many — but not all — chil­dren and fam­i­lies. For many kids, includ­ing the old­est mem­bers of Gen­er­a­tion Alpha who were 7 years old in 2020, screen time soared, with the screens them­selves dou­bling as class­room black­boards and emer­gency babysitters. 

At the same time, not all kids had access to tech­nol­o­gy to par­tic­i­pate in these learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. A sum­mer 2021 sur­vey found that over 10% of U.S. house­holds with kids in grades K–12 lacked access to inter­net and a com­put­er to sup­port their children’s edu­ca­tion. Oth­er stud­ies have found that chil­dren in low-income house­holds are less like­ly to have access to com­put­ers.

While screen time spiked for most Gen Alpha kids dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, fam­i­lies recoiled into their homes, play dates stopped and extracur­ric­u­lar activ­i­ties were can­celed. This with­draw­al increased social iso­la­tion, which has sparked con­cerns about declines in stu­dent learn­ing and school con­nec­tion. The Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion is con­tin­u­ing to track the effects of COVID-19 on chil­dren, youth, young adults and fam­i­lies through the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter and oth­er sur­veys.

Pre-pan­dem­ic, experts pro­ject­ed that Gen­er­a­tion Alpha kids would fol­low in the activist foot­steps of Gen­er­a­tion Z and keep sus­tain­abil­i­ty near the top of their pri­or­i­ty list. Now, COVID-19’s rad­i­cal reset of soci­etal norms could fur­ther inten­si­fy this age group’s inter­est in reimag­in­ing a health­i­er, green­er world.

What do we know about Gen­er­a­tion Alpha, fam­i­ly finances and eco­nom­ic inequities?

The start of Gen­er­a­tion Alpha was sand­wiched between two glob­al eco­nom­ic crises — the Great Reces­sion of 2007-08 and the pan­dem­ic-induced eco­nom­ic down­turn in 2020. When the first Gen Alpha kids were born, fam­i­lies were still recov­er­ing from the Great Reces­sion and it wasn’t long before they were hit with the next major cri­sis. It may be unsur­pris­ing, then, that the youngest and most vul­ner­a­ble age group, Gen Alpha, has expe­ri­enced high­er pover­ty rates to date than did Gen Zers, mil­len­ni­als, Gen Xers and baby boomers, accord­ing to the KIDS COUNT Data Center.

In 2021 (which is the lat­est data avail­able), near­ly one in five Gen­er­a­tion Alpha kids is liv­ing below the fed­er­al pover­ty lev­el, which was was $27,479 in earn­ings annu­al­ly for a fam­i­ly of two adults and two chil­dren. Also in 2021: Almost 2 in 5 Gen­er­a­tion Alpha kids were in grow­ing up in low-income fam­i­lies, which is defined as earn­ing less annu­al­ly than twice the val­ue of the fed­er­al pover­ty level. 

Racial inequities are stark for Gen­er­a­tion Alpha. Rough­ly 60% of Black, Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native and Lati­no Gen Alpha kids live in low-income fam­i­lies com­pared to less than 30% of their white peers, the lat­est data reveals. And more than 1 in 3 Black and Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native Gen Alpha kids have been liv­ing in pover­ty since birth, accord­ing to 201320 KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter fig­ures. The same is true for over 1 in 4 Lati­no Gen Alpha kids, over 1 in 5 kids of mul­ti­ple races and just over 1 in 10 white and Asian Amer­i­can kids.

PEOPLE LIVING IN POVERTY BY BIRTH COHORT GENERATION AND RACE AND ETHNICITY IN UNITED STATES

These fig­ures are based on the offi­cial fed­er­al pover­ty lev­el, which only con­sid­ers pre-tax cash earn­ing. Fam­i­lies can earn well over the offi­cial pover­ty lev­el and still not make ends meet, espe­cial­ly in high-cost regions. A dif­fer­ent mea­sure, the Sup­ple­men­tal Pover­ty Mea­sure (SPM), con­sid­ers a broad­er set of resources, such as in-kind and safe­ty net ben­e­fits. The SPM also fac­tors in region­al vari­a­tion in cost of liv­ing. The Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion advo­cates using the SPM for these reasons.

In 2022, when Gen Alpha was age 9 and younger, the SPM child pover­ty rate jumped to 12% — more than twice the 2021 rate of 5%. This means that mil­lions of kids, includ­ing Gen Alpha kids, were liv­ing in fam­i­lies that did not have enough resources to sat­is­fy basic needs, such as food, hous­ing and utilities.

Check the SPM child pover­ty rate in your state

Also dis­heart­en­ing: U.S. income inequities by race and eth­nic­i­ty have widened since the first Gen­er­a­tion Alphas were born. From 2013 to 2021, the medi­an fam­i­ly income for Black, Lati­no and Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native house­holds with kids sat below all oth­er groups on record and far below than the nation­al aver­age. For Black house­holds, specif­i­cal­ly, the 2021 medi­an fam­i­ly income fell a stag­ger­ing $37,600 short of the aver­age household.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, these gaps are not like­ly to improve any­time soon. Through­out 2022, the U.S. Cen­sus Bureau’s House­hold Pulse Sur­vey con­sis­tent­ly found that fam­i­lies of col­or were more like­ly to expe­ri­ence a loss of employ­ment income com­pared to white fam­i­lies or the nation­al aver­age. In the fall of 2022, around 14% of U.S. house­holds with kids had recent­ly lost employ­ment income. This rate dipped to 9% for white house­holds and ran high­er than the nation­al aver­age for fam­i­lies of col­or. The exact per­cent­ages for these groups were:

  • 23% of two or more race or oth­er race house­holds (a group that includes Amer­i­can Indi­an or Alas­ka Native and Pacif­ic Islander and Native Hawai­ian families)
  • 22% of Lati­no or His­pan­ic households
  • 18% of Black households
  • 16% of Asian Amer­i­can households

For Gen­er­a­tion Alpha kids grow­ing up in America’s poor­est house­holds, the chal­lenges inter­twined in their fam­i­ly finances are wide-rang­ing and long-last­ing. Pover­ty ele­vates a child’s risk of expe­ri­enc­ing behav­ioral, social-emo­­tion­al and health chal­lenges, as not­ed. Child pover­ty also reduces skill-build­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties and aca­d­e­m­ic out­comes, under­cut­ting a young student’s capac­i­ty to learn, grad­u­ate from high school and more.

How can I learn more about Gen­er­a­tion Alpha?

Gene Alphas are still arriv­ing — and so are the data for this age group. See hun­dreds of sta­tis­tics on the health and well-being for chil­dren of all ages in the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter.

A few addi­tion­al resources to explore now include:

New KIDS COUNT Data on Gen Alpha and oth­er generations:

Sign up for our newslet­ters to get the lat­est data and oth­er resources

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