What Is Generation Alpha?

Posted November 4, 2020, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

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?

The term Gen­er­a­tion Alpha refers to the group of indi­vid­u­als born between 2010 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, 2.5 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 1995 to 2010. Gen­er­a­tion Z fol­lows mem­bers of Gen­er­a­tion Y, more com­mon­ly known as Mil­len­ni­als, who were born between 1980 and 1995.

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 kids will be more racial­ly and eth­ni­cal­ly diverse than their Gen­er­a­tion Z coun­ter­parts. 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, Gen­er­a­tion 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: In 2010, the first year that Gen­er­a­tion Alphas were born, 51% of kids ages 0 to 4 were white. In 2018, the most recent year of data on record, just 49% of kids in this same age range were white.

With cen­sus pop­u­la­tion pro­jec­tions esti­mat­ing that Amer­i­ca will become minor­i­ty white by 2045, it’s safe to say that Gen­er­a­tion Alpha kids are on track to become the nation’s most racial­ly and eth­ni­cal­ly diverse gen­er­a­tion yet.

What do we know about Gen­er­a­tion Alpha and technology?

Gen­er­a­tion Alpha kicked off the same year that Apple launched its iPad, Insta­gram made its debut and the Amer­i­can Dialect Soci­ety crowned app” as its word of the year. Sur­round­ed by tech­nol­o­gy from the get-go, this group views dig­i­tal tools as omnipresent — not just a trendy accessory.

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 cre­ate chal­lenges, such as short­er atten­tion spans and delayed social devel­op­ment, experts warn.

What do we know about Gen­er­a­tion Alpha and edu­ca­tion­al attainment?

From 2010 to 2019 — the first nine years of Gen­er­a­tion Alpha births — 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 an asso­ciate (8% to 9%), bachelor’s (22% to 26%) or grad­u­ate (9% to 11%) degree as their high­est lev­el of edu­ca­tion­al attain­ment. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, the share of adults who didn’t grad­u­ate from high school (13% to 8%) and only grad­u­at­ed from high school (48% to 46%) fell dur­ing this same time frame.

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 34%. Twen­ty years pri­or — in 2000 — this same sta­tis­tic was only 31%. If this trend 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 run a high­er risk of drop­ping out of school, expe­ri­enc­ing an ear­ly preg­nan­cy and divorc­ing their spouse in adulthood.

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 exact­ly how the pan­dem­ic will impact America’s fam­i­lies and future.

Here’s what we do know: In ear­ly 2020, when the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic forced schools and most employ­ers to oper­ate remote­ly, tech­nol­o­gy came to the res­cue. For many kids — includ­ing the old­est mem­bers of Gen­er­a­tion Alpha, now in ele­men­tary school — screen time soared, with the screens them­selves dou­bling as class­room black­boards and emer­gency babysit­ters. At the same time, fam­i­lies recoiled into their homes, play dates stopped and extracur­ric­u­lar activ­i­ties were canceled.

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 green­er, health­i­er world.

What do we know about Gen­er­a­tion Alpha and fam­i­ly finances?

In the Unit­ed States today, in 2019, 17% of all chil­dren — near­ly 12 mil­lion kids total — are liv­ing in pover­ty. While the share of kids liv­ing in pover­ty has fluc­tu­at­ed over the past decade, the gap between the haves and the have-nots has nev­er been wider, accord­ing to U.S. Cen­sus Bureau fig­ures. At the same time, the nation’s Black-white income gap isn’t clos­ing, with the medi­an income for Black house­holds falling $33,000 short of white house­holds in 2018, per the Pew Research Center.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, these gaps — report­ed pre-pan­dem­ic — are not like­ly to improve any­time soon. In April 2020, about half of low­er-income Amer­i­cans report­ed house­hold job or wage loss­es due to COVID-19. Among His­pan­ic adults, this sta­tis­tic jumped even high­er — to 61% — accord­ing to Pew.

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. 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 infor­ma­tion about Gen­er­a­tion Alpha?

Gen­er­a­tion Alphas are still arriv­ing — and so are the data for this age group.

A few resources to explore now include:

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