The world is moving in numerous directions at the moment.
The rise of economical burdens, the decrease of personal securities and national reckoning all have people plotting how they can maneuver toward holistic survival. Believe it or not, these have all been slated as situational norms – or at least developing norms – for many of the children now classified as Generation Alpha. What this generation offers to the world order is a chance to either face the consequences of decades of future imaginings or collapse under the weight of their demands for ease, accessibility, and transparency.
Generation Alpha is a term coined in a 2008 report by McCrindle – an Australian consulting agency – to refer to people who were born after the year 2010. Shocking as it may be for many, this generation was born into a world that had already resolved to having heightened levels of ease and accessibility. A world that sought to have the freedom to drink and not drive – the American mobility service provider, Uber Technologies, Inc. was founded in March 2009. Born four years after Google acquired YouTube for USD 1.6 billion in 2006, many of them have grown up with the idea that videographic content is readily available and this access is intrinsic to their human rights. While they cannot be blamed for this sense of entitlement, the ramifications of their acculturation to such technological commodities has also changed the ways in which marketers and product developers have factored them into their operations.
In a 2017 Kids Digital Advertising Report, PriceWaterhouse Coopers studied ad markets in the United States of America and the United Kingdom and had estimated that by 2019, the market for digital advertising directed at kids was to “reach USD 1.2 billion” – as cited by VentureBeat. Much has changed in the years since this estimation, especially in the advent of home schooling and lockdown parenting. Simply observing that the eldest of Gen Alphas was aged nine or ten at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, their pre-teen years were dominated by virtual engagements. This trickles down to the youngest of this generation as their guardians and parents turned to devices as aides.
The siren song that has been the allure of digital solutions to learning, entertainment and socialising comes with its own implications regarding who is able to access this avenue of repose. In the words of Mark McCrindle, they were born “the year the iPad was launched, Instagram was created, and App was the word of the year – and so from their earliest years, they have been screenagers.” In the African context, a continent where 40 percent of its population is aged 15 and younger, according to statista.com, there is a comparative disadvantage when looking at the general economical stability of households hosting Gen Alphas. Much like Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z members from Africa before them, there remains the question of where the purse supersedes to the point of granting privilege.
Tristan Anderson’s coverage of ‘The Youngest Self-Made Millionaires’ for under30ceo.com is a lighthouse for what Gen Alpha children are able to achieve when they are given the opportunity to imagine beyond the bounds of rote learning as has been the norm for generations before them. While daunting, parents and guardians must start imagining where these young people are free to innovate and financially savvy to manage revenue generated from their pursuits.
Perhaps the African solution to ease, access and transparency isn’t that the parents and guardians of Gen Alpha must be well off, but this cannot be tested without acknowledging that their peers inhabit enabling environments that have started to recognise them as economic players even though they are children. Without capitalising on the inquisitive nature of youth, it is valuable to keep the doors open for the breakthrough Gen Alpha ideators in our local contexts – and access to the purse can never be denied as a necessary plus.