Group 4

Who are Gen Alpha?

Digi x Grazia on Gen Alpha as they enter their teens


We spoke to Grazia about the next generation of youth – Gen Alpha. What will define them culturally and how will they distinguish themselves from Gen Z? And are generational categories still even useful? Read more to find out!

Grazia: Gen Alpha are turning 13 this year / reaching their teens. As the 2020s go on, what do you think will define them, culturally?

Digi: The current omnipresence of the permacrisis will continue to define them. On a macro level, serious issues such as climate change and human rights will define their world views and future outlook, and the compassion fatigue that Gen Z currently face will be passed on to this generation, too, which will see Gen Alpha feel overwhelmed by the general dire state of the world.  However, it is not all doom and gloom, as I can envision them upholding Gen Z’s dark humour, haphazard aesthetics and unhinged memes as coping mechanisms to find hope. The explosion of #corecore exemplifies how younger generations find catharsis in visualising the chaos of their conditions – it won’t be a surprise that Gen Alpha finds their own version of this! 

It is also worth noting that Gen Alpha’s world views will expand and diversify as they lead the way in big demographic shifts globally: in the West, Gen Alpha will become more multicultural, with predictions for white US populations to become minorities in the future. In China, Gen Alpha children will no longer be ‘little emperors’ – single children in the family – because families no longer have to adhere to the One-Child Policy. 

Grazia: How do you think they might be different from Gen Z?

Digi: While we know Gen Z as being the generation chronically online (perhaps a derogative narrative framed by a media hellbent on demonizing their tech usage), Gen Alpha will start a new narrative around digital nativity – seeing as they are being raised by savvy Millennials who don’t see screen time as an indulgence or vice, but rather an essential component of everyday life. Many of Gen Alpha are going into their teen years alongside the maturity of the game-scapes such as Roblox and Fortnite – by the time they come of age, digital concepts that currently still lack infrastructure (i.e., live shopping, metaverse, mixed-reality experiences) will also be further developed… helping our iPad babies evolve into metaverse teens. While Gen Z today may still struggle with expressing their online selves IRL (and vice versa), Gen Alpha will have confident literacy around online/offline personas and have even higher standards around social media, online shopping and the like. 

Gen Z are the generation that cares the most about social justice, and so I believe Gen Alpha may go two ways: they will either take things a step further and be even more radical in their push towards social change, or the pendulum could shift and they may be the generation that favours traditionalism over being progressive.

Grazia: Do you think separating the generations into diff categories is useful?  

Digi: For the past few years, generational analysis has been useful to demarcate areas of culture and unpack why certain brands, products, ideas, and values grow and others fall. For example, it helped us understand why Millennials began to grow healthy boundaries at work – a direct subversion of Boomers’ rigid (read: toxic) career styles. While we might find this type of analysis quite generic now, during the peak years of generational analysis, it was a useful starting point to understand a generation – and subsequently make connections to how culture flexes and evolves. However, the generational analysis landscape today is rife with sensationalised, rudimentary stereotypes of each generation (not all Gen Z love low-rise jeans!), which are not only counter-productive, but a disservice to the nuances that us as individuals can hold. I think we’ve hit peak generational analysis, especially in this day and age when 80-year-old nonnas are TikTokkers, and millennials are using their grandparents’ Chinese medicine routines for #jellyskin. To that point, the reason why we are so fascinated with Gen Z, or rather, youth culture, is because there are elements of it that we can all relate and aspire to – its unhingedness, candour, open-mindedness, irony, daredevilry – and these values have been passed on across all ages. 

Many people have a problem with generational analysis because they feel it doesn’t accurately capture other aspects of our identities and how these aspects shape our experiences i.e race, gender, class, or believe that it negatively impacts social analysis, some even referring to it as ‘generationalism’. But in my opinion, generational analysis is useful because it is like a time capsule; a snapshot into a specific era. Usually when we think about being millennials or Gen Z, we think about significant pop culture moments that we all experienced together, at the same time. This is what drives an affinity amongst people who belong to the same generation, and so grouping people like so can provide us with interesting insights that other categorisations may not. 

Grazia: Many of Gen Alpha will be the children of millennials. How do you think this might play into how they’ve been raised?

Digi: The word ‘intention’ comes to mind in the way Gen Alpha is being raised by millennials today. For the most part, millennials have become aware of the nooks and crannies of raising a family – with many going through periods of self-reflection to understand their emotions, their traumas and their upbringing. This is why we see an emergence millennial parenting content online, with more mindful approaches like #gentleparenting and intuitive weaning coming to the fore as millennial parents try to do away with unhealthy child rearing norms and break generational traumas in the way they now raise Gen Alpha children. 

On the flipside, the plague of millennial parent influencers will also see a reckoning, as Gen Alpha come to terms with having their baby pictures plastered all over social media and what this means in terms of digital consent and safety (YouTuber family Saccone-Joly’s have been in and out of media for controversy around this).

Read full article by Daisy Jones in the April 2023 issue of Grazia.

✨ Contributing Fairies

  • Rachel Lee, Insights & Cultural Analyst
  • Rukiat Ashawe, Cultural Specialist

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