Everything You Need to Know About Generation Alpha—The Children of Millennials

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golero/iStock via Getty Images / golero/iStock via Getty Images

Generation Alpha is currently the best label to describe the youth of today. Many members of this generation are the children of Millennials (the oldest of whom are now 40) and the younger siblings of Generation Z (who range from teens to young adults). Generation Alpha is just starting to enter middle school, and we can already see their impact on culture. From their birth years to their unique characteristics, here's what you need to know about Gen Alpha.

Generation Alpha's Birth Years

If your head is stuck in the 2010s, you may still use Millennials as shorthand for "young people." But Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996, making them 25 to 40 years old today. People in their teens and early twenties belong to Generation Z, which was born between 1997 and 2012 (or 2010, according to some definitions). As anyone who has ditched their side part and skinny jeans in the last year knows, Gen Z looms large in the culture—but Gen Alpha is right behind them.

Most sources place Generation Alpha's birth years from 2010 to 2025. That means the oldest members of Gen Alpha are 11 years old, and the youngest haven't been born yet. While this group is still too young to have much of an influence on music or fashion trends, they will be entering their teen years over the next decade. Brands are already starting to market to Generation Alpha—the first full generation born into the era of social media influencers and online shopping.

Characteristics of Generation Alpha

Though many Millennials and Zoomers (members of Generation Z) grew up with computers, cell phones, and social media in some form, smart devices weren't ubiquitous during their childhoods. Generation Alpha started in 2010—the year the first iPad was released. If you've ever used the phrase iPad babies to describe children who are given tablets instead of pacifiers, you were talking about Gen Alpha. That's how they earned the nickname Generation Glass.

In addition to being raised on touch screens, members of Generation Alpha are also being raised in families that look different from previous generations. Today's kids are more likely to be only children, to have older parents, and to grow up in homes that don't include both biological parents than their predecessors were. COVID-19 is another huge factor shaping the next generation. Children born at the start of the pandemic will be turning 2 in 2022. While Generation Z came of age in the 2010s, a large portion of Gen Alpha will have no memories of life or education before COVID.

It's still too early to say how these conditions will influence Generation Alpha. Some experts speculate that growing up during the age of social distancing could affect their social development, and using smart devices from a young age could make them impatient. Others have predicted they will be more resilient and more educated than the generations that came before them. No matter how Generation Alpha turns out, you can count on older generations finding something about them to complain about.