A glimpse of Generation Alpha
Generation Z, born between 1995 and 2010, fills the current cycle of generational news. Well it should. As I wrote in Meet Generation Z:
“[This generation] will come to characterize the new reality of a post-Christian world. As the first truly post-Christian generation, and numerically the largest, Gen Z will be the most influential religious force in the West and the heart of the missionary challenge facing the Christian Church.
I also wrote that because of its size, “Gen Z will not simply influence American culture, as any generation would, it will constitute its culture.” This remains true to my thinking. However, it’s not too early to at least be aware of the generation that comes right behind them, especially since they will, in the end, prove even more influential.
Generally grouped as those born (or who will be born) between 2011 and 2024, they have already been widely referred to as “Generation Alpha”, courtesy of Australian social scientist Mark McCrindle. It is not difficult to consider the influences on their young life. None of them will ever remember a world without COVID-19. They will never know anything but the constant use of iPads and iPhones. Their social world will know little outside of social media. They will have lived with the anxiety surrounding climate change from their first awareness.
But it’s how they will be the influencers, not just the influenced, that captures the imagination of many. Forward-thinking companies are already targeting these “pre-consumers” and that’s understandable, even at their young age. Much more than the generations that preceded them, they exercise unprecedented control over the purchasing decisions of their parents. They are pre-consumers, yes, but those who are often the family decision maker.
Then there are their numbers. They are on their way to being the greatest generation in the history of the world. Worldwide, more than 2.5 million Alphas are born each week. In 2025, they will be nearly 2 billion. They will shape the social media landscape, become popular culture influencers and, of course, emerging consumers. At the end of this decade, they will enter working life and adulthood.
A few quick facts:
- As children, they have more material possessions at their disposal than any generation in history.
- They are, and will continue to be, the most tech-savvy generation ever.
- They will enjoy a longer lifespan than any previous generation.
- They are predicted to be likely to spend more years in education, start their working lives later, and possibly live with their parents even longer than their Gen Z and Millennial predecessors.
There are obvious overlaps between Gen Z and Gen Alpha, especially when it comes to being digital natives. The two generations together will cement the digital revolution as the wallpaper of our lives. And if the rise of the “nones” continues – or even if it simply continues – the parents of these children will do little to prevent another generational dynamic from cementing itself. Namely that it will be post-Christian.
James Emery White
James Emery White, Meet Generation Z (baker), order on Amazon.
Mark McCrindle, Ashley Fell and Sam Buckerfield, Generation Alpha: Understanding our children and helping them thrive (Hatchette Australia, 2021).
Marcia Lawrence, “Welcome ‘Generation Alpha’ – the youngest pre-consumers,” The Emporia Gazette, November 27, 2021, read online.
About the Author
James Emery White is the founder and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the assistant professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His last book After “I believe” is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore. To take advantage of a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.