Nearly 18 per cent of the world’s population is made up of eight to 12-year-olds (iStock)
“It’s 2021 . . . should the computer be called a different name and, if so, what would you call it?”
This is one of many questions that were posed to participants of a pioneering exploratory study called So We Are Generation Alpha (SWAGA). The study features individuals aged eight to 12 from across Canada, in a video log and mini-documentary series, responding to thought-provoking questions and scenarios posed by academic researchers from across the country. The survey is a project being led by the non-profit organization Sowcool.org and is poised to chronicle the sentiments of Generation Alpha—those born since 2010—at a time of immense change. The survey will gather insights into this emerging generation during their formative years.
Many researchers believe the occurrence of significant events during one’s formative years—and the pace at which social change occurs from those events—is key to producing a consciousness that could influence the perspectives and attitudes of individuals for a lifetime.
So, what significant events do we believe will influence the attitudes of Gen Alpha?
For starters, the past decade saw hundreds of civic protests materialize around the globe. The decade also saw Canada legalize the medical and recreational use of cannabis and formally recognize the rights of Canadians to seek medical assistance in dying.
Then came the shift from 3G broadband to 5G, providing a platform for incredible digital transformation and the normalization of virtual interactions.
Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic affected us all but will likely leave Gen Alpha with a healthy respect for pathogens, informing their attitudes and approach to travel, employment and other lifestyle choices.
This is the world Gen Alpha knows: a world sensitizing itself to the rights and responsibilities we share as global citizens. It’s also a world where social media plays a critical role in mobilizing resources, creating economic value and validating brand credibility and loyalty.
But there is still much to learn about this emerging generation, which accounts for nearly 18 per cent of the world’s population and is poised to enter the workforce in the 2030s.
SWAGA’s focus on Gen Alpha preteens is based on research that suggests that, by age 13, most individuals develop critical-thinking abilities that are career-impacting, such as the motivation to succeed, autonomy, concern for the future and accountability.
Thus, SWAGA aims to demonstrate the value and importance of engaging individuals at a time when curiosity and critical thinking begin to flourish, a time when they begin to demonstrate aptitude for or interest in an area or field they have a natural penchant for.
Take, for example, Ella Larsen, who has registered to participate in the project. Ella is a 10-year-old Grade 6 student and self-taught digital graphic design artist from Victoria. She owns and operates a small digital graphic design business specializing in avatars used by gaming enthusiasts. Ella designs art on an app and then uploads the designs onto the popular online video game Roblox, where consumers use the in-game currency to purchase her work.
Sowcool’s project involves the production of a documentary, slated for completion in 2022/23. The documentary will showcase interviews with Gen Alpha preteens on a variety of topics, such as their aspirations for the future and their thoughts on environmental stewardship.
At the heart of this project is a call to action, a nudge to businesses and industry professionals, including CPAs, to create and promote workplace experiential learning and vocational mentorship opportunities for preteens like Ella.
As accountants, we strive to paint a picture of events as they happened, like historians and storytellers do. While the stories we tell often leave little to speculation or imagination, we are nonetheless fuelled by curiosity. Our peek into Gen Alpha is no different; it is a snapshot of a current state, a report card of sorts, a point of reference for historians, and a call to engage and embrace future guardians of our collective legacy.
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