TV to Tablet: The Gap Between Gen Z and Gen Alpha

What may have been cool growing up for Gen Z is old news for Gen Alpha.
Mads LaBotte (12) and her younger sister entertain themselves with their devices of choice.
Mads LaBotte (12) and her younger sister entertain themselves with their devices of choice.
Photography, Mads LaBotte

It might seem like Gen Z and Gen Alpha are very similar, but they are very digitally different. While Gen Z contains people born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Alpha includes people born in or after 2010 until now. 


 Gen Z was not exposed to the internet as easily as Gen Alpha is now. When it comes to technology, Gen Z mostly grew up with television and a few game console options. 


Gen Alpha has grown up having a cell phone as the norm. Children get iPads/tablets, television is a huge part of most people’s daily life, and now there are even more options for gaming. Imogen Coop (9) recalls how when she was ten, she “did not have the technology that kids have access to today.”


While previous generations will comment on how Gen Z has more modern technology, the years of Gen Z were really the kick start into portable technology and internet access. Gen Alpha, however, has been born into the technology. 


This newest generation is part of an unintentional global experiment in which screens are placed in front of young kids from a very young age, and are used as ‘pacifiers’ to entertain the children. They are being raised to be more digitally and globally connected than any other generation before them.


Mattox Cannon (10) notices how his siblings “spend almost all their time in front of their IPads” and how they definitely use technology more than he does.


While technology is never a bad idea in concept, the direction of what children have access to at these younger ages is what truly worries older generations. Unregulated internet access for this younger generation can pose a threat to the future safety and security of these individuals. 


Wyatt Jones (12) had unrestricted internet access growing up and mentioned how “it really changed [him], and not in a good way”. 


Another difference between the generations is the type of media being consumed. While most Gen Z children were restricted to the TV or select game consoles such as the XBOX 360, Gen Alpha is able to consume more media made by influencers and people who do not have their best interests at heart. 


Studies have shown that Gen Alpha has a considerably higher temptation to be on electronic devices. They love the freedom and the endless possibilities that they have when it comes to technology. 


The case of Ruby Franke earlier this year proves how easy it is to put abuse on display; if a child were to watch such media, they would believe that this is the right thing to do, because they are not being told differently. 


Children usually believe everything they see. When young children are scrolling through YouTube or any social media and see something that might not be true, they consume it right away and believe it. This habit can become dangerous in serious situations such as “The Blue Whale Challenge.”


With all of this being said, parents and guardians have begun putting restrictions on certain categories such as screen time or what apps to use. With these restrictions, children are provided with a safer alternative than constant unrestricted screen time. 


Growing up digitally, many of the people born in Gen Alpha struggle with shortened attention spans, impatience, and some even struggle with in person interactions.  


Caden Green’s (11) sister has restrictions, so she “does not find anything inappropriate or spend too much time on electronic devices.” Green, however, states that he believes it is up to the parent or guardian to decide what restrictions work best for the child. 


While Gen Z and Gen Alpha are close in generations, technology use throughout childhood has immensely impacted the personalities and ideas of young people today.

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