The students of our world, at schools and universities are the children of Generation X, the cohort that follows Generation Y, and born from 1995 to 2009 they are Generation Z. And following them we have our Gen Alpha's born since 2010. These emerging generations have and are growing up in a time like no other we have seen before. They are the world's first truly global generations, constantly logged up and linked in. They are empowered by having access to every piece of information within a few clicks of a button, and here we find ourselves with the challenge of teaching and educating, of shaping, moulding and developing these emerging generations. Social researcher and demographer Claire Madden takes a look at these emerging generations, their defining characteristics and how we can better understand and engage them.
Those filling your schools today are labelled ‘Generation Z’ – born between 1995 and 2009, this generation currently make up 1 in 5 in our population. They make up just 1 in 10 in the workforce, but in a decades time they will make up over a quarter.
When they’re talking about a library they mean they’re playlist on iTunes. They speak and they write in a new language – if they can shorten it, they will. They are content creators, and their idea of an encyclopaedia is one that you can change and contribute to.
While they are constantly reading it’s rarely a book from cover to cover, and after all they are visual communicators, so why read it when you can watch it?
They speak another language like ‘totes’, ‘chron’ ‘chillax’ ‘epic’ ‘frothing’ fo shiz’ ‘cray cray’ ‘yolo’!
And following our Gen Zeds we have Generation Alpha, the kindergarten and preschool children of today. Generation Alpha are likely to have just one sibling, and if they are a boy they’re likely to be called Oliver, William or Jack, and if a girl, Charlotte, Olivia or Ava.
Born since 2010, there are 2.5 million Gen Alphas born around the globe every single week. And the year that they were first born coincided with the launch of the iPad. In case you were wondering they have no idea what a broken record is, nor what you mean when you say they sound like one. They’ve probably never seen a camera that required film, and will probably never have to wait for their photos to be developed.
Glass was something we were told to not touch so it didn’t leave any grubby finger-marks, where as they are growing up with glass being something that they touch, swipe and interact with every single day. The only phones they’ve ever seen also take photos, record videos, access the internet, can download a million apps and have just one button, a fairway from the landline telephones that you could take off the hook. In fact now if you’re left without your mobile phone for a day, maybe you’ve left it at home or the battery’s died, the term is that you have been ‘land lined’.
Whilst Baby Boomers can remember the introduction of the colour TV in the 1970s, Gen Zeds and Gen Alphas can flick up a YouTube video from a smartphone onto the apple TV with ease. They are logged on and linked up, they’re digital natives, and they are the most materially endowed, technologically literate generation to ever grace the planet.
They are empowered by having access to every piece of information within a few clicks of a button and right there is where we find ourselves with the challenge of teaching and educating, of shaping, moulding and developing these emerging generations.
Find out more:
Claire Madden is a social researcher and Director of Research at the internationally recognised McCrindle. Armed with her research methodologies, business acumen and communication skills, Claire effectively bridges the gap between the emerging generations and the business leaders and educators of today.
She is a next-gen expert, fluent in the social media, youth culture, and engagement styles of these global generations, and a professional in interpreting what this means for educators, managers and marketers.
With academic qualifications in communications and postgraduate studies in leadership, Claire brings robust, research-based content to her engaging presentations and consulting. As a social commentator, she has been interviewed on these topics on prominent television programs Sunrise and The Morning Show, as well as on the radio and in the print media.
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Claire has delivered professional development sessions for school and tertiary teachers, given keynote addresses at conferences as well as board room strategy sessions. From conducting training days for corporate and not for profit clients, to addressing students, training rising leaders and facilitating youth panels, Claire is in a unique position to understand the emerging generations and communicate the key engagement strategies.
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“Claire’s ability to communicate the factual data in an engaging and interactive way was tremendous.” – Mentone Grammar
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