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We often place a great deal of emphasis on the generation du jour – Gen Z. And while their cultural significance and influence is undeniable, it’s important to make room for the next wave of influential consumers – Generation Alpha. 

As the first group attributed to being true digital natives, these 8-15 year olds are forecasted to become the largest generation in history, approximating to over 2 billion by 2025. So they need to be on the radar when it comes to strategizing for your brand or business.

It can be hard to separate the myth from the facts when it comes to what’s going on in the world of Gen Alpha today. But we’re here to lift the lid on 4 trends that are heading downhill for kids. And a few of them might surprise you.

1. Putting time spent online on a pedestal

We often label this generation as tech-obsessed, but they’re adopting more of an offline lifestyle in 2023.

Since 2021, there’s been a drop in parents saying their child spends a lot of time on their devices (-10%), and online (-7%).

We’ve also noticed declines in the number of Gen Alpha who are interested in watching TV, especially films and movies, and talking to their friends online. But there have been increases in the number who say they like to see their friends in-person and play sports. 

Chart showing what kids say they do with their free time

After a prolonged period of being stuck online and indoors in their formative years, it’s no surprise that kids are gravitating toward offline and outdoor activities post-pandemic. We know that remote learning has divided parents and children, with some arguing that it’s had adverse implications on their children’s social skills.

We can see signs of this in our data, especially in places like Canada, where there’s been an 8% drop in the number of 12-15s saying they feel confident since 2021. 

Research carried out by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) investigated this increase. They found that for this generation, promoting well-being and inclusivity by adopting a “whole-school approach” normalizes discussions around mental well-being, making impacted groups feel less isolated, and more seen. 

Over 2 in 5 teens also say talking about their feelings is important to them. So it’s even more essential to ensure that there are resources available on the receiving end to accommodate their needs. 

When talking about mental health, we often forget to include this group. But studies have shown that Gen Alpha are more likely to be worse off than their parents were at their age when it comes to their mental health, so brands need to ensure that mental health and wellness messaging is front and center when they’re engaging with this generation. 

2. Sitting by the sidelines

Gen Alpha have experienced an upbringing different to that of past generations. With their parents having resources like the internet readily available to them, their parenting styles are less traditional, and more collaborative. 

During 2020 and 2021, kids and parents spent more time together under the same roof, and household decision-making became more evenly distributed. 

We asked Generation Alpha kids who decides which apps they download, food they eat, toys they buy, video games they get, and clothes they purchase; and in all these areas, kids were more likely than average to say they pick them or choose with their parents. This suggests that parents today are more open and receptive to their child’s preferences, and are more likely to take them into account when making family decisions. 

With the abundance of variety that exists today when it comes to things like food or content, we can see that this new wave of young people is much more decisive and independent in their choices. In fact, 48% say that being treated their age is important to them. 

Parents are also willing to treat kids more maturely by giving them more money to spend. We can see this in action when we zero in on markets like Spain, Canada, and the UK, where monthly allowances have seen an increase YoY since 2021. 

The number of 12-15s saying they’ve bought something online in the last week has also risen by 20% in this timeframe, which shows how important it is for this group to be financially literate and understand the value of money. 

In the UK, financial institutions have noticed this demand, with apps like GoHenry giving parents the tools to be able to monitor their kids’ spending, while teaching them about finance. This year, NatWest also started offering Rooster Money to customers for free, for the same purpose.

3. Ongoing activism and online behavior

Gen Alpha kids are well-versed and forward-thinking when it comes to social issues. They’re more inclined to believe that everyone should be treated the same, and consider it their top priority when asked what’s most important to them. 

Chart showing what kids are interested in

Often described as mini-millennials, we can partly attribute this group’s progressive views to their parents. In the US, millennials are 17% more likely than the average American to say that diversity, equity, and inclusion is very important to them, so it’s no surprise that these traits have caught on among their children. 

The number of 12-15s who believe that everyone should be treated the same has also increased since 2021.

Like Gen Z, they’re known for being activists, but we all have our limits when it comes to endurance. It’s likely that this group has started to experience content or news fatigue, resulting in a 16% decrease in the number of 12-15s saying they watch the news since 2021, mirroring a similar trend we’ve seen among their older counterparts. 

There’s been an 8% drop in the number of teens who say they’re interested in the environment since 2021.

Both news organizations and brands are likely to have a stake in managing consumer sentiment toward the environment in 2023. Answers like solutions-based writing help in mitigating climate fatigue or doomism, by providing consumers with opportunities for environmental goal-setting that are both achievable, and manageable long-term.

4. Traditional media habits 

For Gen Alpha, using social media isn’t only about personal connection. Social media has evolved, and they use it for a much wider range of reasons. 

Like Gen Z, Gen A are aware that the internet can be addictive. And they want to use it to enhance their lives rather than waste time, which helps explain why filling spare time saw an 11% drop as an incentive for using social media since 2021. 

What has stood its ground is finding funny and entertaining content like memes, which has seen a 6% increase YoY. While the use of social media as an entertainment channel has gained traction among older groups, Gen Alpha are taking it to a whole new level. 

We’ve seen the push and monetization of formats like memes within the past couple of years, with some even remarking that they deliver “better ROI than influencer-marketing”. 

Chart showing why kids use social media

As this tech-savvy, fast-paced generation continues to expand and dominate the market, brands need to ensure they’re utilizing formats that are native to this group to keep them engaged in the long-run. 

Since 2021, there’s been a 4% drop in interest in books, but a 75% increase in the number who say they’re interested in audiobooks.

While books are still very popular, this stat highlights the importance of tracking Gen Alpha’s evolving media preferences.

We saw the influence that short-form video platforms like TikTok had in propelling the reading trend via hashtags like #BookTok. These community-driven trends unify like-minded groups, and give brands insight into these consumers’ psychographic habits via their shared interests. This enables marketers to better profile their audiences, make accurate observations, and inform their business decisions. 

Key takeaways for brands?

  • Post-pandemic, Gen A are looking to spend more of their time offline and outdoors, and brands can accommodate this by showcasing activities which encourage just that. 
  • With more freedom around spending, kids’ demand for financial education is higher than past generations; and as the fintech landscape continues to evolve, institutions need to ensure that this group is equipped with the right tools. 
  • They’re interested in the news, but have the tendency to get overwhelmed, like other generations. When it comes to climate change, initiatives to tackle it need to be achievable and manageable in the long-term.
  • As a generation born into tech, digital formats speak to them. Brands marketing to these consumers need to be in the know on what’s trending, to boost and retain engagement.
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