Sometimes I watch the news, then look at my 10-month-old, and instantly fear for the future. What will the world look like in 10, 20, or 30 years? What kind of society will we be handing our children? It's easy, especially in the midst of this relentless, harrowing news cycle, to assume the worst, but upon further reflection it's clear that the kids are alright and, in fact, better off than we were. Do we still have work to do? Absolutely. Should we, in many areas, like climate change and gun violence, be doing a much better job? You bet. But our kids have tools we never had, information we never knew, and communities that will help them be the heroes this world still needs.
The so-called Generation Alpha are the children of millennials, born between 2010 and 2025. A reported 9,000 Generation Alpha babies are born to over 22 million Millennial parents in the U.S. each day, according to Forbes. Globally, 2.5 million members of Generation Alpha are born every week, according to demographer and social researcher Mark McCrindle, who says that, "they are the most materially endowed and technologically literate generation to ever grace the planet." They're even expected to surpass Generation Z as the most formally educated generation in history.
Millennials "gained political consciousness during a period when politics revolved around terrorism," writes Otto Barenberg and Sofía Corzo for Harvard Political Review. Generation Z, the most diverse demographic in U.S. history, responded to a post-9/11 world in chaos with a sense of urgency to be the change they wished to see in the world and they used, and continue to use, their knowledge of and access to global technology to help them. Soon, our kids will take the lead armed with important lessons learned from their millennial parents, and following in the footsteps of Generation Z change-makers. So with that in mind, here are just a few reasons why our kids are better off than we were:
They Care About Climate Change
A reported 66% of Generation Zers, our kids' closest peers, think that climate change should be foreign policy priority because it is “a crisis and demands urgent action," according to the Harvard Public Opinion Project. In fact, many think that climate change is an issue that is just as important as preventing the rise of terrorist groups. Since our kids are being raised by millennials whose collective political activism has forced politicians to care more about climate change, I have faith that they'll continue to advocate for the environment.
More People Take Them Seriously
Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, Emma Gonzalez, Gavin Grimm, David Hogg, and more, politicians and other members of the global community are finally realizing that young people have the power to make a difference in the world. Young people have a huge impact on the outcome of government elections, according to The New York Times, and their reach extends far beyond voting. Since we know what it's like to have important things to say, but faced mocking and adults who wouldn't listen, we'll make sure our kids know that their voice counts. Their ideas matter.
They'll Grow Up Knowing That The Personal Is Political
Our kids have so many young people to look up to when it comes to political activism, advocacy, and social change. They're growing up in a world where it's normal for kids to do, say, or create something that has a positive and significant impact on their community. As a result, it will be easier for them to think, and believe, that they can evoke substantial and long-lasting change. There are so many articles, books, movies, and television shows that feature young people who understand that every aspect our lives is political, then act accordingly. I'm glad my child will see that kind of representation.
They Have More Access to Mentors
Our kids won't ever have to rely on in-person meetings and networking sessions to find quality mentors. Whether they're on Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, or whatever future social media sites exist to help people connect, our kids will be able to network with people from all over world in a variety of fields. As a result, they'll have more support when it comes to chasing their dreams.
They'll Be Better With Money
When it comes to spending and consumption, young people are learning from our mistakes (and, for the record, millennials manage their money better than older generations, too). Their grandparents, parents, and older peers grew up navigating devastating recessions and job crises, so our kids are being raised hearing countless stories about how to do better when it comes to financial literacy. Further, they’ll have access to so many educational resources to help them along the way, thanks to the internet.
There's Less Stigma Surrounding Mental Health
Earlier this year, the Congressional Black Caucus Task Force on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health was formed in an effort to help Black youth overcome the obstacles that often lead to suicide. But that's just one of many examples of work that people in positions of power are doing to address mental health issues. We grew up learning firsthand what it’s like to have our mental health issues ignored or mocked. Thanks to political initiatives, and parents and peers who know better, our kids will have to worry much less about navigating their mental health issues on their own.
Their Parents Value & Prioritize Being Good Parents
According to the Pew Research Center, the most U.S. Millennial parents say being a parent is rewarding and an important part of their overall identity. They also report that we care about good parenting. We’re really trying our best to raise a generation of people who don’t have to recover or heal from their childhoods and we really, really mean it. Millennials and Generation Z are normalizing therapy, even if many of us struggle to access it. We understand the importance of unlearning toxic ideas about the world and are leading by example when it comes to our kids.
They’re Learning About Consent Early
Even before the #MeToo movement, children were learning about consent, healthy boundaries, relationships, and receiving sex-positive sexual health education. The Harvard Graduate School of Education has a "Consent at Every Age" curriculum for educators, and law are re-shaping sex ed curriculums to include consent education for children as young as elementary school age. Our kids are learning the correct names for their body parts, learning how to establish healthy boundaries, and are armed with the tools to discuss inappropriate behavior.
Their Classrooms Are Tech-Savvy
Technological advancements in schools will give more kids access to learning environments that are best for their unique needs. Whether it’s AI or the use of the latest technologies in classrooms, our kids will experience learning in ways that we never would have imagined when we were their age. They’ll learn different ways to solve problems, interact with others, and think critically in a globally-connected, ever-evolving tech landscape. While many fear the negative impacts that technology have on our kids, it also allows them to enter a whole new world of learning.