Childhoods then vs. now

Trevo'n Brooks '19, Reporter

It seems these days kids are acting older and older. Rather than playing outside with other kids they’re snapping mirror selfies and partying like they’re 20.  Due to lax parenting styles and a lack of respect for elders today’s youth are ill prepared to face the world as adults. Those born within Generation Z, which spans 1995-2010, see a clear difference in how they grew up compared to Generation Alpha, which began in 2010 and will go until 2025.

Many of those who belong to the earlier part of Gen Z (‘95-’03) see several differences in how they were raised compared to the oldest members of Gen Alpha, those born between 2010 and 2012. Several members of the older generation see a clear disconnect when it comes to things like parental discipline and how fast they grow up.

“Respect isn’t enforced as much,” senior Leah Kennedy said. “Kids talk back and [some] parents just let it go. I think when you see your child acting out you should nip it in the bud.”

Many members of Gen Z believe that their parents have become ‘soft’ when it comes to disciplining the members of Gen Alpha. Many members of Gen Z, including myself, were physically disciplined in the form of spankings, but this is not the case with many members of Alpha. Several members of Z view this as a big part of a reason for some of the behavioral differences between the two groups.

“They have too much freedom,” junior Shawn Sayyae said, also citing the idea of if you spoil your kids, you raise your grandkids and vice versa. Gen Alpha also has an issue that is present in all generations, they’re trying to grow up too fast as a generation that’s always had technology and social media. Unlike Gen Z the tech savvy members of Gen Alpha learned to operate cell phones and tablets around the ages of two and three, this has allowed them to be exposed to the world much faster than other generations since they have the world at their fingertips.

“We knew how to act [at their age]; they don’t,” says senior Duane Byrd. “When we were younger we understood right from wrong. Younger kids don’t know any limits. If I wasn’t disciplined I most likely wouldn’t know how to act, younger kids aren’t spanked like a lot of us were there should be some form of [controlled] physical discipline.”

Both Gen Z and Gen Alpha have grown up in a world where social media has always existed, though many of the older members of Z would argue that social media and technology haven’t played as big of a role in their lives. There are a few technological differences many members of Gen Z like myself can remember: when Blackberries were a more popular than iPhone, the oldest members of Generation Alpha were born the year the iPad was introduced (2010). They’re growing up in a world where technology is the major source of entertainment and information.

Despite the many differences between Gen Z and Gen Alpha they share more in common than many might think, both generations are the most ethnically diverse generations in American history, and are predicted to be very successful as entrepreneurs and will join the workforce while still in high school. Both generations are also yet to have their formative moment as older generations have some predict that for Gen Z this event will be the Trump Era of politics. Gen Alpha is still too young to tell what this event will be for them. One other similarity between the two is that they may actually be easier to parent due to technology being available to help parents solve problems.

“Having more technology makes it easier to help kids solve their problems,” social studies teacher and father of two Mr. Conn said. “If your kid has a problem there’s Google to tell you the answer. My parents couldn’t do that.”

The two youngest generations also have much less conservative parents when compared to other generations, the parents of Gen Z tend to be the children of members of Gen X were often characterized as slackers who didn’t want to grow up as the “MTV Generation”. Gen Alpha’s parents are usually Millennials who have been given the identity of being both self-centered and having an extreme sense of social consciousness. The characteristics of their parents has led to the members of Gen Z being very liberal in their attitude towards others and will likely lead to a large sense of self-empowerment in Gen Alpha. Creating two groups who will have a strong sense of self when compared to other groups.