The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


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Watch out, Gen Z. Gen Alpha has just arrived

The rise of a new generation and the repercussions behind early internet exposure
Joshua Goldman/CNET
While the iPad was first released when the oldest Gen Z kid was 13 years old, Gen Alpha has already accumulated years of screen usage and exposure to the internet, earning themselves the nickname of “iPad kids.”

Generation Alpha is taking the internet by storm, garnering a reputation for their questionable slang and notorious online presence. But where did they come from, and how are they already making their mark on the internet at such a young age? 

As the successor to Gen Z, Gen Alpha is defined as those born from 2010 to 2024. What sets them apart from any other generation is that they are the first to grow up in a completely digital world.

Throughout the history of internet culture, we’ve seen Gen Z faze out Millennial behavior in favor of newer trends and platforms. This begs the question of what to expect from Gen Alpha in future years as they continue to grow their online presence. Will Gen Alpha deem Gen Z as “cringe” someday? Well, although still young, this generation has already gained a familiarity with the internet and social media. From “Skibidi Toilet” to “fanum tax,” their meme culture is spreading rapidly, causing confusion and discourse between older generations online. 

While we can all get a good laugh from the sheer absurdity of Gen Alpha’s humor, their online presence at such an early age raises concerns about what the long-term effects of early social media exposure might be. Nearly half of all children eight-years-old and under own a tablet and spend an average of about two and a quarter hours per day on digital screens. Unlike other generations, Gen Alpha is growing up with unlimited access to the internet’s resources and entertainment.

Increasing screen time has negative effects on young children, including delayed developmental, social, and cognitive skills. According to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that began in 2018, children with excessive screen time experienced thinning of the brain’s cortex, the area of the brain related to critical thinking and reasoning. The media being consumed by young and impressionable children is also highly addictive and often misleading or inappropriate. In short, spending your developing years immersed in digital media can create a harmful cycle of continued use.

The problem of internet overconsumption will only worsen with the recent surge of popularity in short-form content. Originating from Vine and TikTok, short-form content is designed to condense information and catch viewers’ attention in mere split-seconds. This new form of media has changed the way stimulating entertainment is consumed among younger generations. Most platforms favor this TikTok-style content and have even adapted to showcase more of it (e.g. Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts). 

Although profitable and efficient to produce, the oversaturation of short-form content accessible on the internet is highly addictive and destructive to viewers. Since this media is so oversaturated, the competition to gain viewers’ attention has escalated to more desperate measures to feed viewers’ ever-growing entertainment needs. Split-screening, an emerging style of video, involves a narrated story or movie playing alongside gameplay or stimulating sensory videos. This has raised concerns about diminishing attention spans among younger generations. Short-form content isn’t going anywhere, however, with it being produced and monetized at a record rate to accommodate its growing demand on the internet.

Gen Z has already spent most of their adolescence on the internet, with many citing negative feelings about social media according to the McKinsey Health Institute. While social media helps people connect with others remotely and makes information more accessible than ever, it is also grounds for the comparison, perfectionism, and cyberbullying that have been shown to negatively affect our emotional well-being.

Even though our generation has already suffered the effects of early internet and social media engagement, it’s not too late to reverse the pattern for Gen Alpha. In a world where the only form of stimulation we can find is a Reddit story narrated alongside Subway Surfers gameplay, we should focus on fostering imagination and creativity among children and prioritizing responsible use of the internet instead of raising the next generation on screens. 

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