Since the internet existed, so too has the worry about the impact it’s having on younger generations. What is it teaching our kids? Is it making attention spans shorter? Is it turning us into robots?
But while internet safety should always be a priority, parents shouldn’t panic about how it’s shaping Generation Alpha. It turns out, the generation that’s growing up with an iPad in hand is handling it pretty well.
They’re Still Connecting With Their Friends
Despite access to social media platforms, texting apps, online multiplayer video games and more inventions than we can count, Gen Alpha is still mostly hanging out with their friends offline. According to our study, only 24 percent of Gen Alpha kids spend more time with their friends online than in person. In fact, more Gen Alpha kids would give up social media before they gave up sleepovers with friends.
Despite the many predictions by researchers stating that our children will grow up being lonely, and that technology will lead to them feeling secluded from the rest of the world, the opposite was proven to be true.
When children do chat online, it seems to be helping them build relationships. Chatting online takes away a part of social anxiety we have when approaching someone for the first time. Fifty-four percent of Gen Alpha parents say tech helps their kids connect with other kids in a positive way. For kids ages 11 – 13, parents actually cite this as the top overall benefit of tech.
Connecting with friends in the online and offline world will contribute to building new friendships and strengthening pre-existing ones. All the concerns about the negative impact of the Internet on younger generations in our minds stream from plausible causal evidence. However, as our research has shown, tech has an overall advantage for Gen Alpha.
They’re Doing Better in School
Rather than dragging Gen Alpha away from schoolwork, the internet is actually helping them improve. An impressive 87 percent of Gen Alpha parents say access to the internet helped their child perform better in school, noting reading, math, and language as the subjects most impacted.
Being tagged as avid users of technology, and given the generation could not imagine a world before voice assistants and apps, it is easy to judge Gen Alpha as the generation addicted to screens. But with the world becoming more digital by the day, shouldn’t we pause before making quick assumptions?
As is questioned in the Wired report on understanding Gen Alpha, the growth and rise of AI is inevitable. The technologies we use today will change and improve at a faster rate than they have thus far. Computers were introduced in schools a while ago, and now digital literacy is and will become as important as traditional literacy.
If the Internet renders our children’s performance better in schools, and the kids who play video games have better visual performance than those who don’t, shouldn’t we pump the brakes on panicking and focus on how to improve their online experience for educational purposes?
They’re Being Supervised
Even though this generation has been using tech before they could speak, it’s not a free-for-all out there. Parents are paying attention to the content kids are consuming, what they’re being served via algorithms, and how much time they’re spending on devices. Adult supervision, limiting screen time, and content filters are the top ways parents are protecting kids online.
We often forget that Gen Alpha is full of the children of Millennials. Their parents’ experience with the digital world is far greater than the experience the parents’ of Millenials had. Seeing how Millenials have themselves developed a digital footprint as the Internet was ‘breaking out’, they are well aware of its good and bad sides.
Preventing our children from keeping up with technological developments, and limiting their “screen time” will disadvantage them in ways we are not able to assess yet. But what we know for certain is that in spite of all the benefits the Internet comes with, our children’s screen time should be supervised. Whether we do so through ad blockers, content filters, or by making sure your child knows the difference between what is real and what has been portrayed through social media and video games, is up to us, but we must acknowledge the positive aspects the Internet has on Gen Alpha – and all of us for that matter.
See? Not so bad. The internet and social media may have completely changed our lives, but overall, it’s having a positive effect on Gen Alpha.
That said, there are some steps you can take to make sure Gen Alpha is having the best experience possible. Check out our tips on explaining online reputations to your kids and being authentic to learn more!
.ME wanted to know more about how this generation uses technology, so we commissioned an independent study of more than 500 parents of Generation Alpha kids to look at how technology is affecting Gen Alpha relationships, academics, and social challenges. The study was conducted by an independent research agency in August 2019 and included a nationwide sample of 532 randomly selected parents of children 13-years-old and younger. If you want to get more technical, the margin of error was +/-4.25% at the 95% confidence level. Ethnicity and age breakouts are directional only.
This article is part of our series on Generation Alpha
We seek to provide answers to your most pressing questions about keeping your kids safe online, introducing them to the digital world, and helping them be their authentic selves online.
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