Generation Alpha: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly


By: Jocelyn Alessio ‘24, Tyler Burns ‘25, Ana Carolina Campos ‘23, Olivia Cantadori ‘23, Ryan Cassel ‘23, Samuel D’Amico ‘25, Madalyn Macko ‘24, Saylor Modica ‘24, Georgina Russo ‘23, Benjamin Safarik ‘23, Rebecca Summa ‘24 and Riley Trask ‘23 


Gen Alpha is the generation that follows Gen Z, including all children born in or after 2010, which, ironically, is the same year the iPad was “born.” 

Due to Covid-19, it is clear Generation Alpha lacks certain social and emotional skills, which impacts their day-to-day lives both in and outside of the classroom.  

Since quarantine, the younger generations have become more introverted and socially awkward. Teachers have adapted to students’ new struggles in the classroom which impact their ability to stay on task, listen to verbal instructions/directions and work collaboratively. 

“I feel less engaged and motivated,” said Isabella Lombardi. Lombardi also went on to discuss how it’s harder to participate in a live school environment due to the isolation of Covid. Teachers are struggling to help meet students’ new needs.

Since students have such easy access to technology, many instantly look for a shortcut instead of putting in the work. 

“We were all searching for alternate methods and some of those are “one-click wonders” or “easy way out” techniques such as filters or one button/click fixes, rather than working the desired effect out on their own or assessing as they go,” said Mrs. Overmier, who discussed her difficulties with students trying to find Photoshop hacks to make the work easier. 

Technology makes it easier for students to take such shortcuts, instead of actively engaging in and learning new material. Students are also less likely to engage in class discussions or participate in class. 

“Changes in society have resulted in kids being less likely to just raise their hands,” said Commander Mark Dwinells.

Again, this societal change is both a result of the pandemic and the current reliance on technology. The lack of recognizing social cues has impacted live learning environments, making it harder for students to communicate their opinions and ideas in the classrooms. Teachers find it difficult to facilitate group discussions as students have become more introverted. 

 “They’re very quick however to reply online or via social media or via a written assignment”, said Commander Dwinells. 

Children ranging from ages 3 to 13 have been the most heavily impacted, as many have been exposed to technology and social media at very young ages at home and in school. The main issue isn’t social media, but how it’s being used. 

The Child Mind Institute claims, “Experts worry that the social media and text messages that have become so integral to teenage life are promoting anxiety and lowering self-esteem,” making it difficult for this generation to escape the addictive nature of technology. 

The unfortunate reality is that, due to the widespread isolation during the pandemic, kids and their parents began to rely significantly more on the enjoyment of social media and the good feelings that can come from it.

A poll about technology use was sent to the entire freshman class at Bethel High School and yielded shocking results. 90 freshmen responded. 40% responded that they joined various social media platforms from ages ten to twelve. Approximately 38% of those who responded were given an iPhone or iPad by the age of 7. In the anonymous free response question, the consensus was that social media contributes to a lack of motivation, body image issues, cyberbullying and it is addicting. Interestingly, more than 40% of participants do not see any negative impacts from using technology at such a young age and as a result, this generation of children has been labeled “Ipad Kids” 

 Interestingly, more than 40% of participants do not see any negative impacts from using technology at such a young age, probably because this generation of children has been labeled “Ipad Kids” 

 “Ipad Kids” are children who were given technology at a young age and are so glued to their devices they forget about the real world around them. They are so immersed in a virtual reality that they ignore their actual reality which affects their attention span and the way they interact with others.  

Educators have had to adjust to the needs of the children who have had their brains rewired by frequent use of technology. Teachers have started to opt for shorter lesson plans because students struggle to maintain focus during a full lesson without becoming distracted. Teachers who are unwilling to adapt to current learning trends may face the reality that students most likely will not finish their work and not become academically proficient. 

According to a study published in the Italian Journal of Pediatrics, “66.3% of the children and adolescents surveyed used their smartphone for more than four hours a day during the pandemic, compared with 16.3% who did so before the pandemic”. During the pandemic, technology became a comfort for people and a source of income as well. But due to that, many forgot how to communicate and how to build relationships in person. Almost two years later things have not improved. 

Kids are molded by what they see online as a result of their still-developing brains. According to an article by the Digital Wellness Lab, “Although the brain continues to develop throughout life, children’s brains are far more impressionable (or plastic) than adult brains, meaning that they are both more open to learning and to being shaped by outside factors.” 

Social Media and technology are those external factors that influence children’s brains and become very obvious when you look at any social media personality or influencer and their fan base. One of the more prominent influencers is Andrew Tate. Tate’s explosive growth in popularity can primarily be attributed to kids as certain social media influencers with predominantly child audiences bolstered his popularity using their platforms. This exposed these easily influenced kids to Tate’s ideals and the effects of this can be seen anywhere that Tate’s name is mentioned. Whenever he’s in anything, whether that be some sort of clip, video, or stream, the comment section is filled with “Top G,” a name coined by Tate for himself. In comment sections, these kids repeat many of his controversial ideals and standpoints and defend him even though what he says is clearly wrong. These kids have been molded and heavily influenced by Tate and his ideas and they take everything he says as fact because he’s rich and popular. The main problem with this is that people like Andrew Tate will end up giving these kids unrealistic expectations and goals for their lives, as Tate primarily gives unrealistic life and financial advice that impressionable teens take to heart. 

It’s not just social media, though – parenting plays the largest role in a child’s development. There are many parenting styles but the most dominant ones are helicopter and free-range parenting. Helicopter parenting is when a parent is overprotective and controls their kids’ actions. For instance, they watch and keep track of friendships, jobs and how their children present themselves. This can lead to major self-expression problems as well as social and trust issues. 

According to Carrie Barron M.D., “Depriving children of problem-solving practice and spontaneous exploration while directing their every move can lead to mental health problems. Research indicates that young people with over-involved parents report higher levels of depression/anxiety, decreased satisfaction with their lives and poor social and coping skills”. The social issues are harder to overcome. Kids with helicopter parents never have a chance to branch out, meet and interact with new people, or make their own authentic life experiences. 

At the end of the parenting spectrum is free-range parenting where parents provide their children with more opportunities to be independent. 

According to Amy Morin, a social worker licensed at the University of Maine and New England, “Free-range parenting isn’t about being permissive or uninvolved. Instead, it’s about allowing kids to have the freedom to experience the natural consequences of their behavior—when it’s safe to do so. It’s also about ensuring kids have the skills they need to become responsible adults.” This kind of parenting is becoming a lot more common, as it gives children more freedom of expression and helps them build a strong character.  

There is obvious controversy between helicopter and free-range parenting styles. Some have argued that helicopter parenting, with its stringent rules and focus on safety, prevents a child from interacting with the world around them and causes them to become risk-averse. Meanwhile, others cite several cases of free-style parenting gone wrong, with children becoming overpowering and uncontrollable. 

The parents of Generation Z and Generation Alpha would likely have been coming of age or having children in the 1980s, a time when child kidnappings created a deep-seated fear in the American consciousness. 

“[The 1980s] was characterized by an increase in child abductions throughout the U.S. and included the abduction of Adam Walsh which gained national attention and pushed Congress to create the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children,” said Grace Marguerite Williams, a writer for the parenting blog “We Have Kids”.

While it is important to protect children from harm, overprotection often hinders the child’s ability to problem-solve and deal with conflict later on. As protective parenting increases, so does the generation’s dependence and stress. 

A poll by the American Psychological Institute found that on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest amount of stress, Millennials stated that they experience a level 6 amount of stress, while Boomers and Matures reported experiencing around a level 4, indicating that younger generations are experiencing more stress despite the ease that technology has provided them. As overprotected children become adolescents and adults, they may struggle to mature alongside their peers, having not had a true experience with real-life problems. 

The danger is that they will shelter themselves from ridicule and failure by spending less time in community activities. In the modern day, these children tend to depend on technology for entertainment and a sense of identity. 

“[Technology] is not something separate from themselves, but rather, an extension of their own consciousness and identity,” said Natalie Frank, head of community at a business management platform, in the Huffington Post’s discussion of Generation Alpha. The uptick in protective parenting accentuates the heightened level of childhood dependency on technology. It can be speculated that this generation will look to the world of technology for a sense of belonging. 

However, despite the cautions and pitfalls of overprotection, there may be such a thing as too much freedom. 

Free-Range parenting often has a more relaxed view of child safety and focuses on child empowerment. It allows the child to make their own decisions and although this can lead to time outdoors and niche abilities, it can also lead to increased screen time and a lack of discipline and responsibility. 

Free-range parenting is often centered around homeschooling, which some fear prevents the child from interacting socially with their peers and maturing at a similar rate. 

“It’s very unstructured,” said Mrs. Pierpaoli, the Child Development teacher at BHS. “[Between Free-range and other children] there’s a totally different level of education for college. Free Range kids are not used to structure and school.”

Students, more specifically freshmen and younger, are exhibiting increasingly immature behaviors in schools. There are multiple explanations for this divergence, one being the increase in phone usage. Students are becoming increasingly sleep deprived as a result.

 According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “There is a problem with extended use of social media sites, which result in sleep deprivation due to delayed bedtimes and reduced total sleep duration and quality of rest … sleeping disturbances may be associated with the disruption of circadian rhythms due to the blue light emission from the electronic screen-based media devices”. This directly correlates to poor performance in school. Sleep deprivation prevents students from providing their full attention in the classroom and creates poor school habits. As students begin to care less about school, they start acting increasingly immature, which prevents them from reaching their potential, and also prevents teachers from completing lessons. 

As a result of technology, students also crave ‘instant gratification’. Social media, apps like Tik Tok, or receiving text messages, release dopamine for a short period of time. This immediate gratification is very different from the classroom setting. In the classroom, students go through lessons and are required to study, before they get their test scores or results. They are forced to delay the release of dopamine.

“Because of their short attention span, you have to vary the instruction often. You have to constantly keep changing it up, or else they get bored,” said Biology teacher Kateri Kenney. Obviously, there are students who are driven and will complete their work, but the intrinsic value of completing work has decreased. There are fewer kids that feel the value of doing it. So it has taken a much longer time to see the value and the correlation in their work to their grades and to get them to set it as a priority,” Kenney added. 

This devolution of the classroom all traces back to the increase in technology usage and reliance on social media. It has caused students to place much less value on their academic future. 

 Some elementary/middle school and freshman students have a harder time staying focused and motivated while in the classroom. Students would rather play on the computer or scroll through Tik Toks than complete school work so when it comes down to finally turning it in, they will look it up. In the same article. Students too frequently succumb to academic dishonesty as they seek answers from different websites like Quizlet, Sparknotes, Mathway and many others. 

Let’s face it – nothing has been the same since the pandemic and it’s been hard to adapt back to the typical school day due to the rigor needed to be a successful student. Students as young as Kindergarten age can navigate the internet better than some adults. The pandemic may have caused stress and isolation and been the leading factor in an increase in technology use – but we cannot say that some positives have resulted as well. 

Brilliant. That’s the word that comes to mind when the subject of the Alpha Generation comes up. Not brilliant in the school sense, but brilliant in the technical sense. Starting from a young age these kids have been trained to function online and in person. Both plains of reality are brought together for Generation Alpha to thrive.

“As an older adult, I find that they are very quick, knowledgeable, and adaptive to change when new technology comes up. They are ready to go,” said Technology Education Digital Cinema Teacher Brad Ritchie. 

Adaptation is something that human beings struggle with. Looking at history, people tend to resist change. The problem with this situation is that the world is changing faster than ever. This new group of freshmen has no problem with change. The time period that they grew up in never had a resting phase. Change has been constant and so has the building of their tolerance to it. 

As for the social aspects of life, this generation takes it to a whole new level. Having the skills of connecting online and in person, they are always keeping in contact with one another. Their online collaboration abilities surpass the level that any generation before has been able to achieve. Not only is teamwork important in school, but the capability of this trait is used widely after graduation. 

“Students in the freshman class are great at interacting and collaborating using digital platforms,” said Technology Education Teacher Olivia Franzese. 

Now we just need to work on face-to-face communication. 

Having been exposed to technology at such impressionable ages, the amount of information in their hands excels that of anyone born before. Generation Alpha is able to know anything they want at any time and more importantly, they know how to access it. Accessing specific information is something anyone can do, but not something everyone knows how to do. This specific skill is mastered from personal use, it is not something one can learn in school. 

“They are used to technology and that’s a good thing for this world,” said Ritchie. 

The saying that stays in the rotation is “you can do anything you put your mind to.” While many people disagree with this, it’s no problem for the new generation. Watching people achieve their dreams online fuels them to do it themselves. The world is in need of big thinkers with no limits and these kids easily fit that description – but sometimes they need to look up from their screens in order to truly experience life and make meaningful connections with others.