Internet culture harms Gen-Alpha development

Young kids apart of Generation Alpha often consume content targeted towards older teenagers and adults.
Young kids apart of Generation Alpha often consume content targeted towards older teenagers and adults.
Christiana Vucea

With the end of the reign of the notorious Gen-Z, famous for influencers and bizarre slang, its successor has begun to make its mark. This new generation, including those born between 2010 and 2024,  has been coined Gen-Alpha by social researcher Mark McCrindle. “In keeping with this scientific nomenclature of using the Greek alphabet in lieu of the Latin, and having worked our way through Generations X, Y and Z, I settled on the next cohort being Generation Alpha- not a return to the old, but the start of something new,” McCrindle said.

Gen-Alpha includes the generation born between 2010 and 2024, who grew up in the 21st century and, therefore, in the start of the digital world. They are characterized by being “digitally native” and “iPad kids,” referring to children who spend excess time immersed in the digital world on their tablets and phones. “They know so much about technology they’re like, as some people would say, chronically online. They use social media a lot and obviously they’re little kids so they can’t really control themselves,” freshman Nadia Blackman said. 

In their given environments, unhealthy practices such as multitasking, multi-screen use, and viewing short-form videos from a young age develop, possibly affecting their attention span and development. According to Linkedin, “[young kids’] attention spans are naturally short…they get easily distracted. When they’re exposed to a barrage of short videos, the impact is even stronger, causing concerning consequences.” These include behavioral issues, impulsivity and concentration issues.

Social media isn’t a safe or healthy environment for kids. Gen-Alpha is constantly being influenced by the newest trends shelled out by influencers and celebrities, the majority of whom aren’t certified experts in the fields they are advising in. This quickly leads to the spread of misinformation and the corruption of young minds.

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A new Gen-Alpha phenomenon has achieved internet fame, dubbed “Sephora Kids,” the children and tweens currently swarming Sephora makeup stores. Normally this wouldn’t be a topic of interest, but it has been reported that these kids are ruining product samples and causing disruptions within stores, while also buying and utilizing harmful and unnecessary anti-aging products. 

In today’s society there is a focus on looking and being perceived as young, something tweens might be adopting and displaying through the purchase of such products. These include products like retinoids, a form of Vitamin A and Vitamin C, which can damage the skin barrier if used at a young age. “Obviously this happens from what they see on social media, because usually the people that originally market and sponsor these products are older people who probably need them more, but the children look up to these people and they want to use the same products because it makes them look quote on quote pretty,” Blackman said.

This heavy focus on “prevention” from aging online and in the media is neither safe for children nor necessary, and enforces more unattainable beauty standards and early insecurities. 

Gen-Z grew up in a similar time and had similar experiences as Gen-Alpha, but many weren’t exposed to this part of our modern world so young. When the COVID-19 outbreak occurred, the oldest of Gen-Alpha were nine or ten, while the oldest of Gen-Z were in their twenties. Therefore, Gen-Alpha didn’t have proper experiences with interacting with their peers and or important developmental experiences that build foundational communication and socialization skills.

According to Business Insider, clinical psychologist and author Eileen Kennedy-Moore said they haven’t experienced “the normal bumps and bruises of interacting with other people. They’ve had way too much time staring at themselves on Zoom and not having the opportunity to interact.” Texting and communicating through online games have become the norm, while face-to-face interactions have been passed out like an aged trend. 

Technology is the face of innovation, but there are times when social media and devices can become overwhelming and have harmful results. Therefore, regulations on social media, especially for younger audiences, should be imposed so the internet doesn’t become something to fear and worry about and long-term consequences do not ensue from innocent intentions. 


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