Move over, Generation Z: Generation Alpha is officially the most accurate label to describe the youth of today.
The Pew Research Center periodically updates the age ranges it uses to define the generational groups, and that includes the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. In 2019, the organization officially added the birth years for Gen Z. Since then, other sources have weighed in on the suggested age ranges for Gen Alpha. Check out the latest definitions for each generation below:
The Silent Generation
79-96 years old
60-78 years old
44-59 years old
28-43 years old
12-27 years old
0-approx. 11 years old
When the Pew Research Center revised its guidelines for generational classifications in 2018, Gen Z and Gen Alpha didn’t appear on the list as separate categories. People born between 1997—the cutoff point for Millennials—and the present year were simply called “Post-Millennials.”
Gen Z has since grown into an economic and cultural force that’s hard to ignore. The world’s teens and young adults have been behind many of the biggest fashion trends, political movements, and memes of the last several years. Even though the oldest Millennials are in their early 40s, the generation has long been synonymous with young people. With Gen Z and Gen Alpha gaining more attention lately, that’s finally starting to change.
While the dates are still a bit up in the air (some argue that the oldest Zoomers were born in 1995), the Pew Research Center defines members of Gen Z as anyone born between 1997 and 2012. That means the group spans ages 12 to 27 as of 2024. The organization cites important political, economic, and technological factors that helped them determine the cutoff from Millennial to Gen Z. Most American Millennials were shaped by 9/11, the Iraq War, and the economic recession of 2008, while members of Gen Z may have little to no memory of these events. Gen Z is also notable for being the first generation to be totally immersed in the world of the internet since birth.
What About Gen Alpha?
The official birth years for Generation Alpha are still strongly up for debate, with some contending that they start in 2010 (syncing up with when the first iPad was released) and end in 2025, while other sources cite 2012 (or just the early 2010s) as the jumping off point for this group.
The Pew Research Center, citing concerns that generational research has become “a crowded arena” influenced by marketing, it will refrain from such analysis until there’s enough historical data to support comparisons between generations at similar stages of life. The debate over Gen Alpha’s official birth years will surely persist.
What is clear is that any babies born right now definitely belong to Generation Glass, a nickname they’ve gotten thanks to how omnipresent technology has been in their formative years. Another huge factor in shaping these younger kids will be COVID-19—kids born at the start of the pandemic in 2020 will be turning 4 this year and will have no memories of life before quarantine.
As they gain influence, you can expect to hear a lot more about Gen Z and Gen Alpha, plus the industries they may or may not be blamed for “killing” into the 2020s and beyond.
A version of this story ran in 2019; it has been updated for 2024.