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OPINION: Gen Alpha is getting out of hand

OPINION%3A+Gen+Alpha+is+getting+out+of+hand
Tristan Spinato

Generation Alpha consists of anyone born 2010-24. They are the first digital generation, experienced COVID-19 during their most important stages of development and are currently wreaking havoc for retailers, specifically Sephora and Ulta.

The trend of “Sephora Kids” gained popularity in the beginning of January with TikToks of preteen girls flooding into these stores, demanding their parents to buy them expensive beauty products like anti-aging retinol, being rude to the employees and ruining the stores and their displays. What is causing this generation to be so out of hand?

Gen Alpha was born at a time when technology had become much more advanced than for previous generations. They are surrounded by smart phones, iPads and virtual reality. Some of these kids are able to work these devices before they can even walk. Issues arise when young kids have unlimited access to technology and the digital world.  They spend less time socializing in person and spend more time on their devices rather than playing in a traditional way with other kids and toys. 

Next, Gen Alpha’s attention spans are greatly reduced due to absorbing so much information on different screens at a rapid rate. Their creativity and imagination is also reduced because they are not playing with toys to stimulate their imagination, instead they are playing on a screen. Parents give their children screens as a way for kids to be entertained and quiet. This is a major disadvantage for kids and their emotional development because they will not know how to deal with stressful or difficult situations and will cope with these situations by being attached to a screen.

COVID-19 played a major role in Gen Alpha’s development, and 84% of adults believe COVID-19 will have a significant impact on these kids. When it came to their education, it was strictly online. There were many consequences to digital learning. It enforced kids’ connection to technology even more and many kids fell behind during online learning. In an article by the New York Times, it was suspected that in 2022 the average student was half a year behind in math and three years behind in reading. This shows the importance of school being in person and the use of tactile learning. Children’s social development was also fractured due to them staying isolated in their homes with their families, refraining from going outside and playing with other kids.

While technology and COVID-19 had an essential impact on the development of Gen Alpha, the major influence was how their parents raised them. Many parents of these kids are Millennials and are raising their kids differently than how their own parents raised them. These parents have the mindset of “fixing what my parents did wrong” when it comes to raising their kids, which includes being more present in their kids’ lives, allowing them to be individualistic and letting them stand up for their beliefs. This is not a bad thing. However, if these characteristics are problematic and the parents are not fixing these issues then things start to go wrong in allowing the child to have this kind of freedom. 

Millennial parents are rejecting the traditional ways of parenting and are focusing more on having a friendship with their kids than a traditional parent and child relationship. There are two types of parenting that are supposed to work together: functional parenting, which is enforcing rules and regulations for the kid, and emotional parenting, which is focusing on giving attention and love toward the child. There cannot be one without the other, and one cannot be used more than the other. 

In the case of Millennial parenting, they are using the emotional method rather than the functional method. There are consequences to raising kids strictly with the emotional parenting method: these kids run the risk of not maturing into responsible adults because they won’t know how to deal with set rules and regulations. Another consequence is if parents have a relationship with their kids as if they are just friends then it undermines the parents’ authority role. This results in the child treating other authority roles as friends and not with the needed respect, this can currently be seen in regards to the “Sephora Kids” disrespecting the workers at Sephora and Ulta.

The critique on how the younger generation is being raised is not a new phenomenon. However, Gen Alpha is facing unprecedented challenges in their upbringing such as technology, COVID-19 and soft parenting. The result of these challenges are being shown through the TikToks of the disrespectful kids at Sephora and Ulta. What can be done to stop Gen Alpha before it gets worse?

Another issue is the lack of kid friendly places, such as Justice, play areas for kids and other areas that allow their creativity to shine. Right now, kids are spending more time on their devices and social media because they have nowhere to go to be a kid. Social media, however, is not targeted for kids, it is targeted towards teens and adults. This can explain why there is an influx of kids storming into these retail stores because they want to act older like the influencers they follow on social media. Many things are affecting Generation Alpha’s development, but there is something that can fix this issue: making sure that these kids are actually behaving like kids, playing with toys and playing outside.

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About the Contributor
Kaylie Morales, Opinion Writer
Kaylie Morales (she/her) is a freshman digital journalism major. This is her first year with The Appalachian.
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