Play time with my two-year-old niece is always a lot of fun, but the many instances of talking gaga and shoving plush toys in her face all kind of blur into one. The last time I saw her though, was the first moment in a long time that I was truly stunned.
After poking and pulling at Hello Kitty's face, then the half eaten spring roll she had been gnawing on for the past hour, then the colourful magnets on my fridge, she slowly moved onto the television, on in the background. She started to touch it and move the images as if it were a blown up iPhone screen.
Sadly, I had to let her down. Her mum said to me, "Wow, does every kid think like this?"
Generation Alpha sure does - that's kids born after 2010 - and their parents are worried that they won't be able to keep up with their children in terms of inherent tech know-how. In fact, 8 and 3/4 is the age Australian parents think their kids' knowledge of tech outstrips their own, according to Hotwire's latest report, "Understanding Generation Alpha: What the parents have to say".
On first thought, it's scary but parents are not convinced that all screen time is bad. In fact, the report found that parents believe technology helps their children think more quickly and be more confident. Another upside is that it also gives the parent someone to consult before making tech purchases! (Marketers, take note). If there was ever a time that we felt dumber than an eight-year-old, that time is now.
This shift in power balance is nothing short of huge. Globally, 1 in 4 (27 percent) of respondents admitted they asked for their kids' opinions before buying a new TV, laptop, tablet or phone. But who can blame this generation for being so well versed in using something that they literally grown up with?
Technology has become so integral to Gen Alpha's day-to-day that 31 percent of Australian parents think gadgets are the most important thing to their children, over toys, holidays and pets (personally, golden retrievers over the iPad any day!)
Case in point: On Twitter, @Jetstopia told his followers that his school's annual concert consisted of choreography from Fortnite: "We had to call dibs on certain dances so we didn't double up."
Seriously. The world we live in now is being dictated by video games. VIDEO GAMES.
Technology is impacting their childhood, and the majority (76 percent) of Australian parents think it will impact their careers as well. This is a huge discussion point Down Under as this means soft skills will become even more important in the future. According to Deloitte Australia, soft skill-intensive occupations will account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030.
We can't deny the place technology has in the life of a Gen Alphian. It helps kids become better problem solvers and quicker thinkers, and whether you agree with it or not, Aussie kids now have a strong voice when it comes to making purchases in the family home. Brands in Australia - not just those ones that are Australian - need to take note, fast.
We’re in an era where parents are blatantly aware they are no longer the most knowledgeable people in the household. In fact, children will be increasingly in the ‘teacher’ position as technology continues to evolve, and while they remain better positioned than their parents to understand new technologies and how to make most use of them.