Each generation outranks the previous one in their approach to technology. The disparity in experiences between generations is best reflected in their first experience with technology and the impact it has on their everyday lives. However, the gap between grandparents and grandkids – Baby Boomers and Gen Alphas – has never been greater.
Baby Boomers were the first generation to experience technology as we know it today. Their interactions were primarily limited to computer programs at first. But, for Generation Alpha, their experience with technology has been a bit different since they were born into a world that is already digital. As a result, technology has changed the way they interact socially, altered their approach to school and learning, as well as transformed their day-to-day routines.
So how is the youngest generation – dubbed Generation Alpha – using technology?
Technology is present in all parts of their day-to-day lives.
Seen as a generation that has an iPad attached to their crib, Gen A is growing up alongside the rapid development of user-friendly digital technologies. When seeking an answer, this generation is more likely to turn to Alexa or Siri than to use a keyboard and screen… They are the generation that prefers two-way conversations between them and a machine with a controller-free interface.
Although research has shown that parents of Gen A believe that their child should get a smartphone at 12, in reality, the same research shows these kids have personal contact with technology much earlier. With the introduction of smart homes, children are used to interacting with AI for exerting commands, search queries, and play-related activities.
Parents at large, being the part of the digital age themselves, are accustomed to handling their lives with the help of technology. In fact, 61% of parents use technology regularly to ‘babysit’ their children; while 34% of them keep technology as an ace up their sleeve when they need to keep the children calmed down. It turns out that only 2% of Gen Alpha kids are not using any kind of technology.
This broadens Gen A children’s perspectives of the world and interactions with it. Technology is part of our kids’ everyday lives and is more deeply rooted than we might think.
Digital tools are actually enhancing their social lives.
Parents of this generation firmly believe that technology has a positive impact on their kid’s social relationships. Gen A kids appear to be more sociable despite the stigma that has been stitched to their name. It turns out that only 24% of children prefer online interactions with their friends to spending time with them face-to-face. In spite of the popular belief that interactive online video games, such as Fortnite, Minecraft and the like, have dimmed children’s will to socialize, the research has shown that the opposite holds true.
Technology has not only aided relationships with peers, but 54% of parents also reported that technology has helped them bond better with their children. This comes as no surprise since the major problem observed through generations was their inability to bond, due to different preferences and spheres of interests. Technology changes that. Parents are no longer considered ‘outdated’, even though it is believed that Gen Alpha will surpass their parents when it comes to technology around the age of 8.
Technology has empowered them to demand a different way of learning.
For kids that belong to Gen A, instruction and content-based inquiry no longer play a pivotal role in their learning processes. It is experience and action they seek, the two qualities that will get them engaged and involved.
Technology is no longer a distraction or a toy like it might have been for their parents, the millennials. Rather, besides socializing and play-related activities, these kids mainly use technology to learn and develop their skills further.
These children demand interactive learning and wonder why didactic learning is still taking place in schools. With the learning environment changing at a fast pace, products placed on the market should support the development of our youngest generation.
It is time we step up our game to meet Gen A needs the right way. This is the generation of change and digital advancement we are yet to fully comprehend. They demand digital solutions that support every step of their development and are more technologically advanced than their parents were at their age.
We ought to change our perception of how we comprehend the amount of time our children spend online. Instead of reprimanding them, we need to find a way to guide them to use technology correctly and make sure they are always safe and secure while online.
Whether it is their daily routines, social interactions, or their learning processes, this generation leans on technology more than any other before. With the benefits technology has brought to them, we also ought to support their development through new innovative and interactive solutions.
Natasa Djukanovic is the CMO of Domain.ME, the company that operates the “.ME” internet domain. An economist, Natasa has spent her career at the intersection of international relations, technology and leadership. She is also the co-founder of NGO digitalizuj.me, as well as a personal branding expert and a startup mentor.