People fear what they don't know and nothing makes that more clear than conversations around technology. As new generations are born into a world with computers, the internet, and other technological advancements, their parents may be anxious about what that means for the future. And there are already notable differences in what kids today like and don't like. According to a new study, kids prefer tech over pets, but it's not as bad as you think — and here's why.
Generational differences aren't new, of course. Previous generations, like Gen X and their predecessors, the Baby Boomers, tend to hate on millennials. But millennials aren't the youngest generation around anymore. Defined as being born between 1981 to 1996 by the Pew Research Center, millennials are all adults now. (Feel old yet?)
Instead, anxieties are starting to switch to younger generations: Generation Z and Generation Alpha, also known as the children of millennials, as reported by Forbes. Generation Alpha encompasses anyone born since the year 2010 up to 2025, according to Forbes.
Although millennials are known for growing up with old school tech, it's Generation Alpha that will truly be a generation defined by it. These are the kids who can set up your Netflix or navigate iPads like a pro, and an that's an unsettling reality for some. But, it's not all bad.
In a new study commissioned by the global communications agency Hotwire, as reported by B&T, researchers looked into the way technology will impact the lives of Generation Alpha. B&T noted that the report was produced alongside neuroscientists, cultural commentators, and educators.
This year, Hotwire turned to the parents to examine the role that tech plays within family life. The report specifically looked into how parents feel about their children's relationship with technology and how they use it. According to Hotwire, the report found that 31 percent of parents believe tech matters more to their kids than toys, holidays, or pets.
In addition, as reported by B&T, 25 percent of parents in Australia reported that, by age 9, their children will have outpaced them in technology use. But, their parents don't seem to be mad about it. According to Hotwire's report of the findings:
While many parents worry about the amount of screen time that their children have, they’re not convinced that all screen time is bad. In fact, parents believe that technology helps their children think more quickly and be more confident.
In fact, many parents believe tech helps their children to develop soft skills that will help them throughout their career, according to the report's findings. "Parents believe technology is helping them develop soft skills which will form a crucial part of succeeding in the workplace tomorrow — everything from quick thinking (50 percent) and problem solving (46 percent) through to enhancing their hand-eye coordination (43 percent)," as noted in the report.
This conversation sounds reminiscent of those around video games. Although some parents worried that video games harmed kids, studies have found that video games barely affected kids in school. In fact, a 2004 Science News article noted that video games can be good for kids, because they offer new methods of learning and engagement. It seems that the same can be said for tech as a whole.
Some parents do worry that their kids are receiving too much screen time. The report noted that three out of every four parents share that fear. Similar concerns have emerged within the United States, most recently as Silicon Valley parents worked to drastically reduce their kids' screen time, according to Business Insider. However, concerns around the amount of screen time children are receiving doesn't translate to tech being inherently bad.
Instead, it's a reminder for parents to continue tracking tech themselves. By itself, tech isn't evil. If you keep up with it, and encourage children to safely navigate digital landscapes, then you are helping them far more than you would by simply banning tech's presence.
The world is always changing and that can make people anxious. But, new generations always seem to alarm the ones before. Generation Alpha, and their new tech-filled lives, are just following a trend.