Jun 28, 2018

Are You Prepared to Reach Gen Alpha Kids & Their Parents?

Last week, I shared an article about Gen Alpha.  Let's pick back up with that topic and talk more about reaching this upcoming generation and their parents.

We normally focus on Gen Z when we talk about the next generation.  But Gen Zer's are growing up fast.  Some of Gen Z have already reached adulthood.  

The newest generation has been tagged the "Alpha Generation."   The term orginates from Mark McCrindle.  Mark is a social researcher in Australia who studies generations.  Alpha kids applies to anyone born after 2010.  In other words, kids who are presently 8 and under.

Here's some key things to remember as you seek to connect with the Alpha Generation and their parents.
  • Alpha Kids are being raised by parents who've had access to screens and technology for the biggest part of their life.
  • Alpha kids have access to screens and technology from birth.
  • Alpha kids are fully integrated online from birth. 
Another thing to keep in mind is this - Because Alpha kids are born into an online world, it will be a challenge to keep them focused.  They get bored very quickly.  To reach them, you've got to catch their attention quickly and in a powerful way.

Alpha kids have lots of connections through online gaming and social media.  But many are shallow connections.  Due to this, Alpha kids want deeper connections.  Ministries that can provide them with the opportunity to establish deeper connections will thrive.  This is something that ministries can provide through small group leaders, teachers and other caring leaders.

We must also keep in mind that Alpha kids are being raised by Millennial parents.  With so much parenting advice available online, Millennial parents are able to make faster parenting decisions.  This allows them to spend more quality time with their kids.

Ministries that partner with Millennial parents through parenting advice, activities and shared experiences will grow.  

Alpha kids are an "on demand" generation.  More than any previous generation, they expect immediate delivery.

One interesting note, Alpha kids are willing to spend more time viewing a video, if it's relevant to their life or interests.  

Alpha kids like repetition.  If they like video content, they will watch it over and over.  This is good news for people who create contect, curriculum, programming, etc.  We know that repetition is a key to kids grasping Biblical truth long-term.  If you can create "replay worthy" content, kids will watch it several times.

Remember this as you plan and implement.  There is so much content being pushed their way, it can be a challenge to get your message to stand out and stick in their long-term memory.  It's got to be excellent if you want them to engage with it.

From the moment they are born, Alpha kids are introduced to social media by their parents.  Go to most labor and delivery rooms and you'll see parents taking and posting pictures of their baby on social media from the moment they are born.  This continues for the rest of their lives as parents use pictures to document the growth of their children.  You could call social media the new family picture album.

How do Millennial parents feel about social media in their kids' lives?  Here are the results of a recent survey.
  • 81% say social media helps their child connect with family.
  • 74% say social media helps them connect with friends. 
  • 71% say social media helps them explore their passions. 
  • 68% say social media helps their child feel more grown up.
Through one or more digital platforms, 100% of kids ages 5 to 12 are using social media.

YouTube is by far the most used platform for Alpha kids - 89% use it. 

Minecraft is used by 63% of Alpha kids.  It is especially popular among tweens.

Alpha kids are using social media for 3 things. 

1. Consumption.  They consume social media by watching it, reading it, subscribing to it and following it.


2. Connection.  They use social media to share, chat, tag and like people's posts.


3. Creation.  They post, comment and make items they share with others.

  
Here are some additional stats that are noteworthy:

5-to-6-year-olds are using social media to learn, observe and stay in touch with family and friends.

7-to-10-year-olds subscribe and follow others and create content by commenting on friends' posts.

Once Alpha kids turn 11, their usuage of social media accelerates.  They begin sharing their own vidoes, photos, stories and other creative work.

Alpha kids feel like they can't function without social media.  Among 5-to-10-year-olds, 76% say social media is important for kids their age.  Among tweens the percentage climbs to 83%. 

How do their parents feel about them being involved in social media?  Over half of Millennial parents seem okay with their child's current usuage.  And very few parents actually monitor their childs's online activity closely.

What should we do as children's ministry leaders?   How can we reach Alpha kids and their Millennial paents?  Based on the info. above, here are some ideas.

Create online content that is engaging and relevant.  Start aYouTube channel.  Have a Facebook and Instagram page for your ministry.  Post online games and activities that teach God's Word to kids.  One important note - many social media sites have a minimum age level.  For example, the age for Facebook is supposed to be 13.  This doesn't stop kids most from joining anyways.  But I believe it is wise to push your content to parents who in return can share with their kids.

Use repetition.  Remember, if the content is good, they will watch it more than once. That's awesome, because we know repetiion is a key to learning, so repeat things several times.

Provide environments where kids can establish strong relational connections.  Remember...most of their social media connections are shallow.  They come to church wanting to make a connection. They want to be part of a group.  They want a familiar face who knows them by name and misses them when they aren't there.

On that note, it's important to also facilitate ice breakers, games, discussion times where the kids can build relationships with each other.

I also think that the 3 things kids are using social media for could be used very effectively as a template for our lessons at church.  Think about it...if done well...lessons could give kids the opportunity to...

Consume God's Word - provide solid, Biblical content for kids. 

Connection  - give kids opportunities to connect with each other and adult leaders. 

Creation - give kids opportunities to create and share things that highlight the key truth of the lesson.   This could be a mini-drama, a craft, a picture, activity, etc.

Have a Facebook and Instagram page for parents in your ministry.  Use it to share parenting tips, family activitiy suggestions, announcements, a review with discussion questions from the weekend, etc.

Your turn.  What are your thoughts about Gen Alpha?  How can we reach them?  How can we disciple them?  How can we empower parents?  Share your thoughts, ideas and insight in the comment sections below.

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