Connecting the dots
Social scientists and marketeers take great interest in generational typologies as subsequent generations are supposed to develop into distinct cohorts of, for instance, citizens, voters, consumers or employees. Much of the talk about distinct generations goes back to the post-war baby boom that resulted in a large demographic cohort moving through different stages of life in the second half of the 20th century. It thus made sense to keep track of this generation and distinguish it from its successor (Gen X) and, even more so, their children (the millennials, or echo boomers). Each generation, so the theory goes, is shaped by the (global) political, cultural and technological context it experienced during different stages of life. Yet, generational theories remain contested and the precise typologies used, their precise dating and their explanatory variables vary quite a bit between analysts. Whether or not it is warranted to speak of a new generation already depends on the underlying theory one adheres to.
When solely looking at years of birth, it makes sense to define Generation Alpha as the children of millennials and to separate them from Gen Z, which consists mostly of Gen Xs kids. On the basis of Howe and Strausss generational cycle, one would expect the next generation only to be born from 2025 onwards and this would coincide with a new high (comparable to the 1950s post-war boom), following the crisis in which Gen Z is growing up (i.e. the Great Financial Crisis and/or climate change).
Regardless of these generic underpinnings, it is interesting to speculate as to what could set this generation apart from Gen Z and the answer may very well lie in the technological or geopolitical domain. Kids born from 2010 onwards, even more than Gen Z, are growing up surrounded by digital technology (and screen-focused parents) and voicecontrolled digital assistants. In their teens, they will experience 5G connectivity. All of this implies that this is the first generation to interact with computers all the time, in increasingly less explicit (directly visible) ways.
They will, in other words, develop a relationship of full embodiment with digital systems, virtual environments and (increasingly) autonomous devices and no longer make a sharp distinction between the real and the virtual. Intriguingly, Generation Alpha is also the first generation to be recorded digitally from birth onwards; in governmental records, but also on (their parents) social media channels. Already, there are several highly successful pre-teen stars in this generation (e.g. Ryans ToyReview).
From a geopolitical perspective, Gen Alpha is growing up in a world where the U.S. is no longer the undisputed global (political, military and cultural) hegemon. This means that they (in the West at least) are growing up in more insecure times, in which the outcomes of international conflicts are quite uncertain and new (proxy) wars may be looming. At the same time, they will also experience a far broader palate of (pop)cultural expressions, e.g. in the form of (Asian) film, fashion and music (cf. current attention for K-Pop) and social media platforms (cf. TikTok). As we noted before, such cultural influences may very well prove vectors of (non-American, non-Western) soft power and ideology.
On a speculative note, as societies in the West are becoming more diverse and increasingly polarized, this new generation will experience its formative (teenage) years in many different ways. Filter bubbles, in regular media as well as online, will also feed them with different perspectives on national or global events (e.g. in politics, technology or the environment) and this is likely to lead to more divergence within this generation as compared to earlier, somewhat more homogenous, generations.
The jobs they'll have some day? Many don't currently exist. They will have more formal education than any generation before them.
The majority of their parents? Millennials.
The term "Generation Alpha" was coined by Mark McCrindle, a social researcher in Australia. While the traits and habits of Gen A are of great interest to advertisers, there's much about the latest generation their parents need to know.
"Generation Alpha began being born in 2010, the year the iPad was launched, Instagram was created and 'app' was the word of the year," Ashley Fell, the communications director for the research company McCrindle, told "Good Morning America." "They are the first generation of children to be shaped in an era of portable digital devices, and, for many, their pacifiers have not been a rattle or a set of keys but a smartphone or tablet device."
Fell told "GMA" parenting a Generation Alpha really comes down to five areas: digital, social, global, mobile and visual.
Kids born after 2010 are, Fell, said, are "part of an unintentional global experiment where screens are placed in front of them from the youngest age." As a result, they are less proficient in practical skills, assessing and approaching risk and setting and achieving goals.
"Helping Generation Alpha to develop specific skills such as STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Math], as well as social competencies, entrepreneurial skills, strength and coordination, financial literacy, innovation, resilience and resourcefulness will be key to enabling them to thrive in the future," Fell said.
This group is, more than any other in history, extensively connected to and shaped by their peers. They are connected 24/7 across social, geographic and demographic boundaries.
"Our research shows that a quarter of students who have been bullied, have been bullied via social media, text messages or email," Fell said. "In response, the trend of well-being has been steadily increasing over the last few years, particularly in schools and in the workplace. In the last five years, almost half of parents have increased their expectations of their child's school to support well-being. More than one in four have significantly or somewhat increased their expectations."
"Wherever they are in the world, Generation Alpha are influenced by the same movies, music, fashions and food," Fell told "GMA." "In this wireless world their technology knows no boundaries and nor do their blogs, friendships and vocabulary."
As a result, it's crucial for parents to prepare Gen A for a global workforce. While digital skills and creativity are expected to be high, critical thinking skills are ranked low among this generation by their own parents.
"As the world of work changes, it is the character qualities as well as competencies that will future-proof Generation Alpha," Fell said.
According to McCrindle's research, the average time people stay in a work role is just under three years. If the current trend continues, by the time Generation Alpha enters the workforce then they will have on average 18 different jobs over six distinct careers.
"Many of these future jobs don't currently exist, with the World Economic Forum predicting that 65% of those entering primary school today will end up working in entirely new job types," said Fell. "Many students today learn skills in robotics, coding, social media marketing, app development and big data analytics to prepare for these futuristic jobs."
Fell told "GMA": "We have an emerging generation, many of whom are opting to watch a video summarizing an issue rather than read an article discussing it."
As a result, messages have increasingly become image-based. Signs, logos and brands communicate across the language barriers with color and picture rather than words and phrases.
"As such, a shift is occurring for Generation Alpha, with learning styles switching from structural and auditory to engaging, visual, multi-model and hands-on methods of educating this emerging generation," Fell said. "Because their parents will indulge them in more formal education and at an earlier age, Generation Alpha will have access to more information than any other generation gone before. Their formal education has never been equaled in the history of the world, with a predicted 1 in 2 Generation Alphas to obtain a university degree."
What to watch out for
Parents of Generation Alpha have some challenges. Fell said chief among them are watching out for screen addiction, cyber bullying and the management of child-friendly content.
"While parents have some unique challenges, it is encouraging to remember the Millennial parents of Generation Alpha have themselves been shaped in the digital world, so are better equipped to manage these complexities," she said.
Parents need to now, as always before,
be leaders for their children. "Parents need to give
Generation Alphas confidence, as many young people face
insecurities and mental health issues about an uncertain
future that is constantly being painted for them," Fell
said. "They should encourage Generation Alphas to invest in
the future. By investing in training and education in both
life skills and people skills, Generation Alphas can remain
relevant and have the confidence to move forward."
is Generation Alpha, and what do you need to know?
Coined by the Australian social researcher Mark McCrindle, Generation Alpha includes anyone born between 2010 and 2024, the first generation to be born entirely in the 21st century. And that cohort is predicted to be the most formally-educated generation ever, the most technology-supplied generation ever, and globally the wealthiest generation ever, as McCrindle told the New York Times.
Alphas are coming of age in a time of unprecedented technological growththeyve seen the rise of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and driverless cars. In many ways, the influence of Generation Alpha on the market is no different from Gen Z and the Millennials before itthe trend of creating more personal, immediate experiences continues to grow. But the Alpha worldview is even more extreme. According to a 2018 report from Hotwire, kids will surpass their parents in terms of their tech skills by age 8. And as they get older, that gulf of experience will only become more apparent.
So, what can brands do to appeal to this tech-savvy clientele and to the kid influencers who have their ear?
Hold Their Attention
Alina Redkina, a designer at the creative production agency Kworq, explains that in a world where everything is constantly at ones fingertips, the biggest challenge will be holding their attention. The best way of doing that, Redkina says, is to establish a gradual connection, unobtrusively, and in a way that piques their curiosity and development. In other words, trust has to be built over timein a way thats so personable, it almost seems incidental.
This was confirmed by a 2017 pilot study from the MIT Media Lab in which researchers watched 26 children, ages 4-10, as they interacted with several different AI agentsAlexa, Google Home, the pet robot Cozmo, and the conversational Julie Chatbotto see how kids would respond to these different technologies over time. What they found was that, for the most part, children understood these AI bots as friendly, trustworthy, and smart. One seven-year-old even thought that the Google Home she was interacting with was smarter than Alexa, because it could produce more information on sloths.
Go Deep, Even on Shallow Things
The kids perceptions of these devicesas being smarter than themselvesmeant that they went off-book, treating these AI agents as if they were people or pets, expecting a depth of interaction that the AI couldnt actually sustain. This lays out part of the challenge for brands in winning the loyalty of Alphas, who will look to create even deeper relationships with technology as they get older.
As a result, Generation Alpha will likely see the replacement of the screen and keyboard with voice, AI, and gestural interfacesthey are more relational. The shift is already underway: In the last year alone, the use of smart speakers among children aged 5-15 doubled. And in its 2018 report on Gen Alpha, Hotwire found that 81% of U.S. parents had their children help in a tech purchase. In other words, Gen A kids are already in the same tech ecosystem as their parents, and their power of the purse is only growing.
This is part of the reason that Hotwire recommends that brands focus less on finding ways to appeal to kids, and instead try to make their existing products more family-friendly, with scalable safety features. For example, Fitbits new wearable fitness tracker for kids age 8-13 is the same product, but with the inclusion of parental controls. Incidentally, kids wearables also tie into the greatest concern among the Millennial parents of Gen Alphas, 70% of whom, in the U.S., believe that their kids screen time is detrimental to their healthwith 48% worrying about how much exercise their kids are getting.
Make It a Family Affair
This speaks to the delicate balance that brands face when tapping into the Alpha market: finding ways to appeal to both kids and their parents. Krista DiBerardino, a VP of marketing at Canadian toymaker Spin Master, told AdAge, Families are consuming, engaging, and buying together, she says. So, whats the trick? Becoming a brand known for content as much as for product.
Take Crest Kids Chompers, for example: a twice-daily, two-minute podcast from Gimlet Media and Oral B to make brushing teeth more enjoyable. The immediate benefit of the skill is the encouragement of better dental hygiene by telling jokes and sharing fun facts designed to motivate young children. The podcast also helps to establish trust between Procter & Gambles Crest and the whole family.
Theres still much thats
unknown about the impact that this early exposure to
technology will have on Generation Alphas development.
Stefania Druga from the MIT Media Lab study doesnt
think theres any reason to worry about that just yet.
Children, she explains, are more open-minded than their
parents. I think a lot of our assumptions of what a
young child today could understand or do are yet to be
challenged, she told Hotwire. Well just have to
watch this space.
Alpha, the 9-year-olds shaping our future
Why it matters: Millennials are reaching universal adulthood, and Generation Z is coming of age. Generation Alpha is falling in line as the next group to shape our future.
By the numbers: According to McCrindle, a social research agency in Australia, Generation Alpha got its start in 2010 at a rate of 2.5 million births per week. They are primarily the children of Gen Y Millennials born between 1980 and 1995.
What to watch: Here's where Generation Alpha is coming from and where they're likely going.
Of note: Generation Alpha is still young, and much of what will come to define it remains unclear, Fell says.
1 fun thing: The name
"Generation Alpha" is meant to define the group as a first:
Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. The
demographic is the first to be born entirely in the 21st
Comes Generation Alpha: What PR Pros Need to Know About the
Worlds Next Age Group
Born between 2010 and 2025 to millennial and Gen Z parents, the Alpha Generations first members are beginning to emerge as consumers as they enter middle school.
Heres what communicators need to know about this key, emerging group:
Understanding the generation
The Alpha Generation will be one of the smallest generations, based on birthrate, compared with previous generations. Parents worldwide are having fewer children. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. birthrate in 2018 reached its lowest level in 32 years.
According to Jonathan Vespa, a demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau, Generation Alpha will be the most racially diverse generation in the history of the United States. He projects that by 2020, less than half (49.8 percent) of children in the U.S. will be non-Hispanic whites. Alphas are also more likely to be raised in non-traditional households with single parents, unmarried parents, mixed-race parents or same-sex parents.
By 2035, 35 percent of the U.S. population will not be affiliated with any organized religion, predicts Allen Downey, a professor of computer science at Olin College in Needham, Mass.
Forecasting their impact
Alphas are using mobile devices earlier in life, and theyre adept at connecting with friends and family members via online platforms such as FaceTime, Skype, Zoom and the video game Fortnite. (Why Gen Zers Prefer Fortnite as a Social Platform to Facebook and Instagram)
As technology advances and smart devices become commonplace in our homes and offices, Alphas will also leave the longest trail of data ever collected about a generation. Through technologies from social media to sensors, manufacturers and tech companies will be able to see how Alphas interact with their brands.
Alphas will also likely be the first generation to maintain avatars in virtual worlds where they will go for entertainment, school and work. And because they will be skilled at searching for information and sharing it with their parents, members of Generation Alpha will likely also have more influence than previous generations over adult decisions and family purchases such as eating out, taking vacations and other entertainment activities.
Its difficult to forecast what the impact of this constant exposure to technology from an early age will be. But Sherry Turkle, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of the book Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, argues that mobile technology is already profoundly changing the way that people interact with one another in face-to-face situations and large social settings.
Marketing to Alphas
How should PR professionals and marketers connect with members of Generation Alpha as they become consumers, voters and donors in the years to come? Here are some suggestions, based on insights from more than a dozen futurists and experts in politics, real estate, child psychology and marketing:
Consider their generation-shaping event(s). Every generation is shaped by a seminal event that defines their generation. We dont know yet what events will shape Generation Alpha, but marketers and communicators need to be cognizant of the major and minor events that may affect this demographic. And well have to put our messages into the context of those events.
Appeal to their flexibility. Perhaps no generation will be forced to adapt to greater change than Generation Alpha. As these young people reach adulthood, the world around them will face seismic shifts artificial intelligence, robots in the workplace, driverless vehicles. Appealing to this generations mindset of uncertainty and flexibility will help marketers generate more relevant messages.
Communicate via mobile devices. According to a 2017 report from Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization that promotes safe technology and media for children, 42 percent of kids ages 8 and younger have their own mobile devices. They spend an average of two hours and 19 minutes a day looking at screen media. Accordingly, marketing messages delivered via mobile technology will take up a larger share of PR and ad budgets.
Connect with video stories. Where previous generations dreamed of being astronauts or professional athletes, nearly 30 percent of respondents to a 2019 LEGO survey of more than 3,000 children in the U.S., the U.K. and China said they wanted to be a vlogger or a YouTuber when they grow up. Connecting with Generation Alpha through video stories will be crucial for future business success, as will allowing its members to generate their own content for brands.
Prepare for voice searches. Generation Alpha is also growing up asking for information from voice assistants such as Siri and Alexa via phones, voice-activated speakers and in-home robots. According to Comscore, a media-analytics company, by 2020 half of all information searches will be conducted by voice. As the technology becomes routine for Alphas, organizations will need to reconsider how their brands are discovered and experienced.
Keep up with new social media platforms. To avoid the prying eyes of their millennial and Gen Z parents, Alphas will likely gravitate to new social media platforms. This means theyll likely shun Instagram and Snapchat just as Gen Z avoids Facebook today. Learn how to communicate using the latest social media platforms.
Offer transparency. With deep fakes, fake news, VR and AR normal part of todays media world, Alphas will demand more transparency from their institutions, says Gen Z consultant Tiffany Zhong. Transparency will become the gold standard when it comes to marketing to future generations, she says.
We shouldnt mistake Generation
Alpha for an extension of Gen Z or millennials. Itll
take the work of savvy communicators to watch closely and
learn how to offer relevant, authentic messages that
emotionally connect with this next generation of American
COVID-19 will shape Generation Alpha
84% of adults believe COVID-19 will significantly shape Gen Alpha
The age at which were exposed to a transformative event determines how embedded it will be in our psyche, with COVID-19 predicated to be a defining event for the next generation. More than four in five adults (84%) believe COVID-19 will play a significant role in shaping the children of today. While it will be some time before we know the full extent of how COVID-19 will impact and shape this generation, the oldest of them turn 11 in 2020, so many of them will remember aspects of this global crisis. Many watched mum or dad work from the kitchen bench while keeping an eye on them as they learnt from a virtual classroom. They might not know why we need to stay 1.5 metres away from other people, but they know that we should. The fact that there was a prolonged period of time where they couldnt go to the park or visit grandparents is not lost on them.
When we asked people what they believe the biggest impact of COVID-19 will be on the next generation, the results centred on integration of technology into their lives, expectations around working conditions and the online delivery of education.
COVID-19 has enhanced the intersection of technology and learning, but it has also shown the importance of face-to-face and tactile learning. Like many other sectors, the education sector has adapted in response to social distancing restrictions. While it posed challenges, 71% of parents who kept children home said it was a mostly positive experience for their household, and 82% of adults generally agree that education will be deliver online more in the future.
Nonetheless, schools were missed during lockdown not just by busy parents having to juggle their own work with monitoring their childs learning, but because schools are key to community (within the school) as well as being a place of connection within communities.
For Generation Alpha, a generation that was already impacted and shaped by technology, COVID-19 has further entrenched digital into their lives, while also highlighting the importance of the tactile. Generation Alpha will be used to using Zoom and engaging in a virtual world as a result of COVID-19. We may also see them pushing to engage with and use technology in more creative ways as a result.
Immediate family time has been enhanced with social isolation restricting people to stay at home. This has had a big impact on the next generation of children. Parents who are used to travelling have been grounded and working from home has provided new flexible ways of structuring time. This has been one of the most positive experiences of COVID-19, with 52% indicating spending more time with family/household members has been a positive experience and want this to continue. This unique family time is one positive to have come out of COVID-19, and may mark a shift in some families priorities and time allocation into the future.
Social interaction and friendships are very significant to Generation Alpha as they are in their key socialising years where behaviours are learnt subconsciously. While Zoom and virtual dinner parties have enabled much needed social interaction, in many ways it cannot replace the face to face interaction that is crucial to child development and socialisation. Remembering this and finding new and creative ways of participating and engaging in community will be key to their development, even while from a distance.
Most young kids will remember how their family home felt during Coronavirus panic more than anything specific about the virus. Our kids are watching us and learning how to respond to stress and uncertainty. Lets wire our kids for resilience, not panic. BrainPower Neurodevelopment Centre LLC
While there have been some unique
challenges for Generation Alpha during COVID-19, it has also
exposed them to witnessing different elements of resilience
and responding to challenging times in positive ways. More
than three in four adults (78%) agree that this experience
will mean children of today are more resilient. It is a key
role of parents, leaders and teachers to teach and model
positive and resilient behaviours where possible. It is also
important to ensure that, even amidst change and
uncertainty, stable environments are created for the next
generation as much as possible to enable them to thrive now
and into the future.
over Gen Z, Generation Alpha is the one to watch
Forget pleas for a puppy. Today's kids
demand gadgets. "I'd rather have an iPadbetter than a
dog," says one pint-sized participant in a recent video on
the role technology plays in the lives of children. The
clip, produced by Hotwire, a global PR and integrated
marketing agency, also depicts a toddler losing control when
an adult tries to wrestle away her tablet. It's part of a
larger study about Generation Alpha, the tech-savvy young
children of millennials whose rising influence could soon
make Gen Z an afterthought. (Full article available to
13 Things to know
about the Allpha generation - 1/28/16
Members of the Alpha Generation, on the heels of Generation Z, are only 0 to 2 years old today. They account for absolutely no purchasing power. But they will soon take over the world -- because that's what subsequent generations supposedly do.
I have spent thousands of hours observing one member of the Alpha Generation, and I have done meticulous ethnographic research on her peers in playdates, at family gatherings, and at the cutest baby ballet classes ever. Here, for the first time, I am publishing critical insights about the Alpha Generation -- dubbed "alphers" to ensure that they forever resent their forebears.
1. They hate the sharing economy. Anyone you meet in the Alpha Generation is likely to be decidedly anti-sharing. In fact, ethnographies have revealed that not a single member of this generation wants to share anything. That's good news for marketers: Ownership is back. The more verbal among this generation may not even be able to say the word "share," but they are likely to shout utterances such as, "Mine!" and "All mine!"
2. They are very mobile, except when they're stationary. Those in the trailing cohort of Generation Alpha, particularly those 0 to 6 months, tend not to be mobile at all. They just sit there.
3. They don't care about privacy. This is exemplified by their strange habit of always trying to take off their clothes, or at least a single sock. Building on the narcissistic tendencies of millennials and centennials, alphers are extreme exhibitionists.
4. They don't play by the rules. Want to play chess with them? Forget it -- they'll eat your rook. Want them to color within the lines? They'll break your crayon. Want them to watch your 30-second pre-roll spot before your video loads? They will come to your office, take off their diapers, and pee all over your stand-up desk until you accept that they're the ones in control now.
5. They break free of any boundaries. Just try to restrain them in any way. Whether you're putting them in a diaper, swaddling blanket, snowsuit, high chair or car seat, alphers will find a way to get out of it.
6. Full-fat, organic dairy is in. Don't buy them skim milk. They know that decades-old spurious research on saturated fat led to nutrition guidelines that spurred the obesity epidemic. They want their dairy real, and fresh -- with many in the younger Alpha Generation cohort preferring to drink mother's milk right from the source. This trend has been documented in literally every country.
7. Carbs are in, too. Crackers are huge. Cookies go over well. Pasta, rice, cereal and vitamin-fortified puffs are all staples. Many are practically addicted to macaroni and cheese. Maybe there's something to it, as alphers are said to have the longest life expectancy of any cohort yet. We should all be on the AG diet.
8. They eschew organized religion. When participating in any kind of formalized worship, alphers are inclined to scream or shout so loud that they must be taken outside, or conversely they will sleep through an entire service. If such atheistic tendencies hold true into adulthood, it could drastically alter the presidential elections of 2032 and beyond.
9. They are reinventing wearables. The Alpha Generation prefers low-tech wearables. Everyone in this cohort from about six months and up tends to wear milk, Cheerios, peas, crackers or noodles on every single part of their body any time they attempt to eat. Additionally, they love wearing dirt, stickers, blankets, crayon marks, their parents' shoes and jewelry, and other accessories not typically spotted on Milan's runways.
10. What's better than touchscreens? Tastescreens. Generation Z, millennials, and even boomers fell in love with touchscreens. Alphers -- avant garde pioneers that they are -- try to operate devices via their sense of taste. They will lick or attempt to ingest any and all technologies, including analog devices such as books. Unfortunately, product manufacturers have yet to equip their products with taste sensors to appeal to alphers' preferences, so this presents a market opportunity.
11. They trade binge-watching for cringe-watching. Remember how you spent all weekend watching the latest season of "Fargo" or "House of Cards" because you couldn't wait to see what happened next? Then you're clearly not an alpher. Instead, older alphers expressing their media preferences want to experience the last thing they watched over and over and over. This applies to music, too. No matter how much you love Adele's "Hello," playing it 500 times in a row is the kind of torture the military would inflict on a modern-day Noriega. And alphers inflict this punishment on their caregivers every single day.
12. They live in the moment. They have little sense of the past and no concept of the future. They want everything now. Goodbye, YOLO ("you only live once") and FOMO ("fear of missing out"); hello, NOTOMO ("no tomorrow") and GITMOE ("give it to me -- or else").
13. They're constantly
changing. It's hard enough targeting this cohort, given
the differences between leading and trailing alphers. What's
worse is that they're changing all the time. By the time you
complete a creative brief, they're exhibiting new behaviors.
This is proving so daunting that some brands, such as those
in the spirits category, plan to wait two decades to even
try to reach them. That may sound extreme, but alphers have
a way of vexing even the most seasoned marketers.
for Generation Alpha in Our Schools 7/3/19
What is Generation Alpha?
When I talk with educators from around the country, very few have even heard the term Generation Alpha. A term coined by an Australian social researcher, the evidence on Generation Alpha is important to understand. The facts of this group of students are quickly emerging as educators, service providers, and marketers seek to understand the children of millennials.
What challenges will Generation Alpha bring to K12 education?
The data and information we have on Generation Alpha kids points to a clear need for innovation; and quick innovation at that. When Generation Alpha kids joined the ranks of students in K12 classrooms we lost our opportunity for the slow pace of change to pass as the educational norm. Rather this population (and their parents) will demand rapid-cycle prototyping and responsive systems of learning to meet the dynamic needs of this tech-savvy generation.
I was reminded of this when a group of eight-year old boys told me about their social experiment of, Finding out if everything their teacher taught them in a week could be learned with quality resources on YouTube.
Further, existing evidence suggests that our schools will have to establish their presence in more than content and skill. Generation Alpha students will look for reasons to go to school that are beyond learning to read and master numeracy skills. These expectations start in Kindergarten and are expected to continue. They will love their teachers and enjoy their friends but question why they have to spend six hours (or more), five days a week inside of a school. They will look at software programs that are used (often with fidelity) to develop literacy and numeracy skills and wonder why they are using programs at school (instead of being in the comfortable confines of their home or public library). For this generation it is the experience and action that leads to learning; not just instruction and content-based inquiry.
The learning challenges for schools to meet the needs of Generation Alpha are real and need to be addressed now through innovation and a complete overhaul of learning environments. Two facets of Generation Alpha students that have a base of full-scale implementation are critical thinking and problem solving. These are simple targets that can serve as a starting point.
This generation expects to think, solve, create, and document. If they cant do that at school (in every classroom) they will question (like no-other generation before them) why they are physically present. If their parents cant respond to those questions about mandatory education, they may be seeking alternative options for their kids. Options that engage and empower their Generation Alpha kid.
The challenges that Generational Alpha will present to our educational systems are real and have far reaching impact. As millennial parents participate more in telecommuting, K12 systems of education need to be cognizant of the increasing options for school (including home school). Participation in home-schooling has increased 50% in the past fifteen years, as has telecommuting (growing 140% within the same timespan). While there isnt national data to support any correlation between Generation Alpha and school choice, there is cause to pay attention and do our part to ensure that public schools are our first choice not our last.
The insistence from Generation Alpha to innovate our K12 education systems to thrive and meet their needs will be something that many of our educators and leaders are not prepared to address. Given the current data, we cant ignore the forthcoming expectations for public education. Our elected officials, our superintendents, our building leaders, and our classroom teachers must be ready and willing to leap. If they do not, we may need to answer the unfortunate question: Where did all of our students go?
What can we do to immediately address the needs of Generation Alpha in K12 education?
Since 2001 we have been working to advance systems of public education to leverage technology, research from the learning sciences, and research on engagement and empowerment. The lessons of implementation failure and success are many.
One of the greatest lessons is this: it is taking too long for our systems of K12 education to respond to innovation.
When I compare the change processes of entrepreneurs to the change process of education the major points of difference are time frames, capacity to engage in rapid cycle prototyping, inclusion of consumer feedback, use of data, transparent communication, and flexibility of vision. In one area, there is a clear connection between entrepreneurs and educational leaders; if we are all about the current hype, our vision or product will be outdated before it ever gets off the discussion table.
Educational hype can be defined as buzzwords or new initiatives that have come around and left in turn. Hype in education brings confusion from teachers about expectations, parents about results, and students about experience. Hype has no place in educational change, it leads to outdated results that took energy and resources from long-term, steadfast vision.
So what can we do to ignite and inspire our systems of education to meet the needs of Generation Alpha and truly be kid ready? Given the research and the lessons from practice here are our top five strategies.
1. Hire and fire for the future. There are two people that every school district needs to hire. First, a psychometrician who understands classroom-based assessment, data visualization, and data modeling. Second, a Chief Innovation Officer who has a deep knowledge base related to developing 21st Century Skills and empowering students with technology. This person must be able to practice what they preach and model the use of skills and technology within their own work. These two hires will likely set the stage for systems thinking that is not automatically present in typical district level leadership. Just as we need to hire, we also need to look at the individuals who are holding too tightly to current or past success and people that are not practicing (or interested in developing) their own critical 21st Century skills. Look at our collective leadership and think about how many are connected nationally or globally. Look at our collective leadership and think about how many have actually led in the systems we are trying to design. Dont hire for the experiences we needed yesterday but the dispositions and eagerness to innovate with purpose that we will cumulatively need tomorrow.
2. Data. Start with it, end with it, and use it continuously. Data is not test scores, data is information directly from our stakeholders about concrete, malleable, and understandable components of education in todays world. Think about using tools like the Future Ready Dashboard to identify where the district is, or the parallel TRAx Digital Learning tools to identify where individual schools are. Use walk through protocols and tools so that we are constantly collecting data about what is happening in K12 schools; not from a perspective of standardized tests but on the ground practices that are tied to the educational experience of students. Start with data collection to figure out where the learning organization is currently functioning. Do not take action. Slow down to go fast and collect the data first before making assumptions. If we are faced with a question look for data to answer that question before leaning on personal experience or perspective. The Utah Digital Learning dashboard provides resources in assessing 21st Century skills and these tools can help inform the work and the understanding of the current system.
3. Leverage the people who are uncomfortable with today. Too often educational change is initiated and led from behind closed doors. Throughout our country we have pockets of innovation in our K12 schools. It is time that those pockets become the majority. I cant think of one district or school I have been in that doesnt have local innovators. These are teachers and leaders who are doing things differently and entrenching their work in their own deep understanding. Innovators dont just teach differently; they know differently and can back their work up with research on learning and research on both engagement and empowerment. Use those people that are eager for change to support, drive, encourage, and challenge current practice. Start with data-driven conversations, tie in longitudinal research on learning and authentic learning, and be inclusive of our stakeholders. There is no room for ego in developing schools and educational organizations that are kid ready so leave it at the door. Start with a large group, use working groups, dream, and empower conversations that are not only about what our data says, but what our data doesnt say. This will be the group for courageous and continuous conversations; not the place where one person has the only answer or all of the power.
4. Vision. Build it with our greater communities, make it simple, and ensure that it is both purposeful and inspiring. A vision cannot lock us into a plan that will take decades to fully achieve but lead us continuously towards our organizational North Star. The most successful and forward moving organizations we have worked with have one group in mind: their students. Visit a kindergarten classroom or a preschool and think about how the Generation Alpha kids that are headed to our K12 classrooms will thrive with our vision guiding them. Remember, this generation of kids will more than likely not be about getting jobs they are starting their life living with purpose and intention. Does our vision push the entire system to support them as they do so? Use data, talk to stakeholders, create a vision that leads us into the next decade with a sense of purpose and a landmark for every decision that needs to be made. Use vision as our anchor and guide; but dont let it weigh us down. Dont let that vision sit on a shelf, but let it be dynamic and a constant presence as we reflect on data, new hires, and planning financially for what is next.
5. Focus on learning experiences. This seems to be something simple for most educational organizations. However, schools and districts often times forget that the system must support those experiences and those experiences do not rest solely in the hands of the teachers. Is leadership trained? Are school boards clear with the data and plan for innovation? Are families and parents educated about learning? Do students know their why? Do you walk through schools and see synergy between vision and the learning environment? Do you walk through classrooms and see potential? When vision and leadership meet classroom practice that is equitably supportive of Generation Alpha kids and makes use of the skills and experiences that they bring to the classroom we have progress and we may be on our way towards innovation that will stick.
Kid Ready schools provide educational opportunities that are hands on, purposeful, driving critical thinking and deep understanding, and grounded in collaboration and documentation that makes use of our digital savvy kids.
6. Stay the course and build the culture. Gone are the days that we can sit passively and pass standardized tests. Our Generation Alpha students and their parents just dont buy into that behavior. We have to take every opportunity to teach and inspire a culture of innovation. And as district leaders, we have to practice that which we expect. Get outside of our box and learn something new. Challenge ourselves to redefine our organizational structure and create working teams where no one leads and everyone collaborates. As leaders we must build the culture we want and that will not happen if it isnt practiced and expected in every facet of work. Will there be stumbling blocks? Will there be hard fought battles? Will there be concerns? Yes, to all three.
If we are truly going to be kid ready and create systems of learning where our Generation Alpha kids will thrive we must not stop and we must not go slow. We must be strategic, use data, think bigger, educate ourselves on how 21st Century skills and hands on learning really develop skills and content knowledge, and we must fully believe that these new opportunities will be best for our kids. Be eager to fail fast and reflect on what worked and didnt. Be purposeful in your challenges and actions. Be focused and ready for what is next, not what is now.
Start with one simple question to
educational leaders: Generational Alpha is here, are we
911 and E911
The FCC has taken a number of steps to increase public safety by encouraging and coordinating development of a nationwide, seamless communications system for emergency services. The FCC has designed and established transition periods to bring the nation's communications infrastructure into compliance.
In order to deliver emergency help more quickly and effectively, the carriers and public safety entities are upgrading the 911 network on a regular basis. For example, most 911 systems now automatically report the telephone number and location of 911 calls made from wireline phones, a capability called Enhanced 911, or E911.
The FCC also requires wireless telephone carriers to provide 911 and E911 capability, where a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) requests it. Once it is implemented fully, wireless E911 will provide an accurate location for 911 calls from wireless phones.
Other FCC rules regulate 911 for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), mobile satellite services, telematics, and Text Telephone Devices (TTYs). The 911 requirements are an important part of FCC programs to apply modern communications technologies to public safety.
911 Regulations 47 C.F.R. Part 9
The Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999 (911 Act) took effect on October 26, 1999. The purpose of the 911 Act is to improve public safety by encouraging and facilitating the prompt deployment of a nationwide, seamless communications infrastructure for emergency services.
One provision of the 911 Act directs the FCC to make 911 the universal emergency number for all telephone services. Where other emergency numbers had been used, the FCC was directed to establish appropriate transition periods for areas in which 911 was not in use as an emergency telephone number.
State and local authorities continue to expand 911 coverage and upgrade 911 services. Although there may be some counties that still do not have basic 911 services, wireless carriers can deliver 911 calls to the appropriate local emergency authority.
Based on these reports, virtually all carriers now use 911 as the universal emergency number and route 911 calls to an appropriate PSAP. However, emergency services through a PSAP may not be available in all localities.
911 Master Public Safety Answering Point Registry
In December 2003, the FCC began collecting data to build a registry of public safety answering points (PSAPs). A primary PSAP is defined as a PSAP to which 911 calls are routed directly from the 911 Control Office, such as, a selective router or 911 tandem. A secondary PSAP is defined as a PSAP to which 911 calls are transferred from a primary PSAP. The PSAP database serves as a tool to aid the Commission in evaluating the state of PSAP readiness and E911 deployment.
The Registry lists PSAPs by an FCC assigned identification number, PSAP Name, State, County, City, and provides information on any type of record change and the reason for updating the record. For further information concerning the FCC's Master PSAP Registry and carrier reporting requirements, or to notify the Commission of changes to the PSAP Registry, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enhanced 911 - Wireless Services
The FCC's wireless Enhanced 911 (E911) rules seek to improve the effectiveness and reliability of wireless 911 services by providing 911 dispatchers with additional information on wireless 911 calls. The FCC's wireless E911 rules apply to all wireless licensees, broadband Personal Communications Service (PCS) licensees, and certain Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) licensees.
The FCC has divided its wireless E911 program into two parts - Phase I and Phase II. Under Phase I, the FCC requires carriers, within six months of a valid request by a local Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), to provide the PSAP with the telephone number of the originator of a wireless 911 call and the location of the cell site or base station transmitting the call.
Under Phase II, the FCC requires wireless carriers, within six months of a valid request by a PSAP, to begin providing information that is more precise to PSAPs, specifically, the latitude and longitude of the caller. This information must meet FCC accuracy standards, generally to within 50 to 300 meters, depending on the type of technology used. The deployment of E911 requires the development of new technologies and upgrades to local 911 PSAPs, as well as coordination among public safety agencies, wireless carriers, technology vendors, equipment manufacturers, and local wireline carriers.
Karis Law and RAY BAUMS Act
In August 2019, the Commission adopted rules to implement Karis Law, which requires multi-line telephone systems (MLTS) such as those used by hotels and campuses to allow users to dial 911 directly, without having to dial a prefix such as a 9 to reach an outside line. To facilitate building entry by first responders, Karis Law also requires MLTS to provide notification to a central location for the facility where the MLTS is installed, such as a front desk or security office, when a 911 call is made.
Also in August 2019, pursuant to Section 506 of RAY BAUMS Act, the Commission adopted rules to ensure that dispatchable location information, such as the street address, floor level, and room number of a 911 caller, is conveyed with 911 calls so that first responders can more quickly locate the caller. The new rules require the provision of dispatchable location information, to the extent technically feasible, with 911 calls from MLTS, as well as with 911 calls from fixed telephony, interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, Internet-based Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS), and mobile text service.
Additional information on the direct dialing and notification requirements for 911 calls from MLTS can be found on the MLTS web page.
Additional information on the dispatchable location requirements for 911 calls from MLTS, fixed telephony, interconnected VoIP, TRS, and mobile text can be found on the Dispatchable Location web page.
Annual Reports on the Collection and Use of 911 Fees
The New and Emerging Technologies 911 Improvement Act of 2008 (NET 911 Act) requires the Commission to submit an annual report to Congress on the collection and distribution of 911 and Enhanced 911 fees and charges by the states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and Tribal Nations (states and other reporting entities). As part of its annual review, the NET 911 Act requires the Commission to report whether 911 fees and charges collected by states and other reporting entities are being used for any purpose other than to support 911 and Enhanced 911 (E911) services. The Commission formally solicits public comment on the Report, the information provided to the Commission by states and other reporting entities, and the reported expenditure of funds for Next Generation 911 (NG911) services. 911 Reports and Reporting Jusrisdiction Filings
The official emergency number in the United States and Canada is 911. Although the first 911 call was placed in Haleyville, Alabama in 1968, it was not until 1999 that the United States Congress directed the FCC to make 911 the universal emergency number in the United States for all telephone services. The 911 network is now a vital part of our nation's emergency response and disaster preparedness system. Emergency personnel and others often learn about emergencies through 911 calls. Dialing 911 quickly connects a caller to a nearby Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) dispatcher who is trained to route your call to local emergency medical, fire, and law enforcement agencies.
911 lines are designated for emergency calls, such as reporting a crime in progress, reporting a fire, or requesting an ambulance.
Using 911 for non-emergency calls may
delay help for people caught in real emergencies. Some
communities have designated the number 3-1-1 for
non-emergency calls to police and other government
The way U.S.
teens spend their time is changing, but differences between
boys and girls persist-
Teens today are spending their time differently than they did a decade ago. Theyre devoting more time to sleep and homework, and less time to paid work and socializing. But what has not changed are the differences between teen boys and girls in time spent on leisure, grooming, homework, housework and errands, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
More sleep and homework, less socializing and paid work for teens todayOverall, teens (ages 15 to 17) spend an hour a day, on average, doing homework during the school year, up from 44 minutes a day about a decade ago and 30 minutes in the mid-1990s.
Teens are also getting more shut-eye than they did in the past. They are clocking an average of over nine and a half hours of sleep a night, an increase of 22 minutes compared with teens a decade ago and almost an hour more than those in the mid-1990s. Sleep patterns fluctuate quite a bit on weekends, teens average about 11 hours, while on weekdays they typically get just over nine hours a night. (While these findings are derived from time diaries in which respondents record the amount of time they slept on the prior night, results from other types of surveys suggest teens are getting fewer hours of sleep. (A 479 page PDF)
Teens now enjoy more than five and a half hours of leisure a day (5 hours, 44 minutes). The biggest chunk of teens daily leisure time is spent on screens: 3 hours and 4 minutes on average. This figure, which can include time spent gaming, surfing the web, watching videos and watching TV, has held steady over the past decade. On weekends, screen time increases to almost four hours a day (3 hours, 53 minutes), and on weekdays teens are spending 2 hours and 44 minutes on screens.
A day in the life of a U.S. teenTime spent playing sports has held steady at around 45 minutes, as has the time teens spend in other types of leisure such as shopping for clothes, listening to music and reading for pleasure.
Time spent by teens in other leisure activities has declined. Over the past decade, the time spent socializing including attending parties, extracurriculars, sporting or other entertainment events as well as spending time with others in person or on the phone has dropped by 16 minutes, to 1 hour and 13 minutes a day.
Teens also are spending less time on paid work during the school year than their predecessors: 26 minutes a day, on average, compared with 49 minutes about a decade ago and 57 minutes in the mid-1990s. Much of this decline reflects the fact that teens are less likely to work today than in the past; among employed teens, the amount of time spent working is not much different now than it was around 2005.
While the way teens overall spend their time has changed in a number of ways, persistent gender differences in time use remain. Teen boys are spending an average of about six hours a day in leisure time, compared with roughly five hours a day for girls driven largely by the fact that boys are spending about an hour (58 minutes) more a day than girls engaged in screen time. Boys also spend more time playing sports: 59 minutes vs. 33 minutes for girls.
Boys and girls differ in how they spend their timeOn the flip side, girls spend 10 more minutes a day, on average, shopping for items such as clothes or going to the mall (15 minutes vs. 5 minutes).
Teen girls also spend more time than boys on grooming activities, such as bathing, getting dressed, getting haircuts, and other activities related to their hygiene and appearance. Girls spend an average of about an hour a day on these types of tasks (1 hour, 3 minutes); boys spend 40 minutes on them.
Girls also devote 21 more minutes a day to homework than boys do 71 minutes vs. 50 minutes, on average, during the school year. This pattern has held steady over the past decade, as the amount of time spent on homework has risen equally for boys and girls.
The daily life of teen boys and girls
When it comes to the amount of time spent on housework, the differences between boys and girls reflect gender dynamics that are also evident among adults. Teenage girls spend 38 minutes a day, on average, helping around the house during the school year, compared with 24 minutes a day for boys. The bulk of this gap is driven by the fact that girls spend more than twice as much time cleaning up and preparing food as boys do (29 minutes vs. 12 minutes). There are not significant differences in the amount of time boys and girls spend on home maintenance and lawn care.
Girls also spend more time running errands, such as shopping for groceries (21 minutes vs. 11 minutes for boys).
In addition to these differences in
how they spend their time, the way boys and girls feel about
their day also differs in some key ways. A new
survey by Pew Research Center
of teens ages 13 to 17 finds that 36% of girls say they feel
tense or nervous about their day every or almost every day;
23% of boys say the same. At the same time, girls are more
likely than boys to say they get excited daily or almost
daily by something they study in school (33% vs. 21%). And
while similar shares of boys and girls say they feel a lot
of pressure to get good grades, be involved in
extracurricular activities or fit in socially, girls are
more likely than boys to say they face a lot of pressure to
look good (35% vs. 23%).