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Gen AI and Gen Alpha: The impacts of growing up in an innovation cycle

The current combination of Gen AI and Generation Alpha may bring the most impactful outcomes yet.

Gen AI and Gen Alpha: The impacts of growing up in an innovation cycle
[Source photo: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash]

In her book Generations, author Jean Twenge wrote that many people believe major events like wars, economic hardship, or even pandemics are the cultural changes most responsible for generational differences. While those likely shape a generation, she notes that the most impactful influence may come from something else: technology.

Thirty years ago, millennials were growing up alongside the evolution of the internet. The power of connectivity, even for the simplest capabilities like searching for basic information, was profound. Today, it’s a cornerstone of commerce, society, and more.

Fifteen years ago, members of Gen Z were growing up alongside the evolution of smartphones and social media. The real-time interaction on the go, even for the simplest capabilities like taking and posting a picture all from your phone, was profound. Today, smartphones are all-encompassing devices and social media connection is seamless.

If you haven’t noticed, there’s a pattern to these innovation cycles, and a pattern of generational cohorts growing up within them. Millennials grasped the reality that the internet would be a catalyst that shaped their lives, pursuing careers in computer science and information technology. Gen Z monetized mobile devices and social platforms with an exploding industry of creators now producing content for engaged audiences. And the speed of technological innovation is shortening the years between generations.

Right now, members of Generation Alpha are growing up alongside the evolution of generative AI. Its near-instant outputs generated in text and visual formats, even through the simplest prompts like “write a toast I can make at an upcoming wedding” are profound. Today, we’re already seeing how quickly upgrades change the AI tool landscape.

We now know millennials and Gen Z are tech-savvy cohorts who present at work meetings to colleagues globally, plan vacations from their phones, and buy beauty products on social media. What remains unanswered is how growing up in the gen AI innovation cycle will impact Gen Alpha.

Here are four areas organizations should pay close attention to as the oldest Alphas approach adulthood in the coming years.


The pandemic forced Gen Alpha to pivot to online learning, leading to earlier exposure to technology and a virtual learning environment.

In the aftermath, AI has changed the education experience. We know Alphas are passionate, yet impatient, learners, with more than 60% saying they prefer things that take less time to learn and are easy to master. AI fits this mold, providing a fast track to the finish line for students. When the outcome is obtained, it’s more about reverse engineering to gather details.

How will that knowledge development influence them in adulthood as both professionals and consumers? It’s an area worth watching, as learning how to use these tools at a young age will only enhance their ability to innovate in other areas as they move into the workforce.


There’s been a growing emphasis on short-form video over the past few years since TikTok burst onto the social media scene in the U.S. Many platforms followed like YouTube’s Shorts and Instagram’s Reels.

How Gen Alpha consumes content as they grow up could impact everything from attention spans to learning styles to future workflows. While all generations have been captivated by the capabilities of large language models (LLMs) delivering text-to-text outputs, organizations should closely monitor not if, but how Alphas are using AI. Text-to-video tools may have greater value in the future as the technology continues to advance and the ethical nuances are navigated.


Gen Alpha is growing up in homes that aren’t only filled with more multifunctional technology devices, but 65% of Gen Alpha’s parents say technology positively impacts their child.

When it comes to AI, this stronger support could flip the script. It’s one thing for parents not to hold Alphas’ AI use back, but they may encourage their children to use it. This powerful dynamic could accelerate adoption into more areas of their day-to-day lives.

One caveat worth noting: technology is not novel to Alphas, and they are exceptional at finding balance. Research shows they are actively disconnecting, playing outside, and seeing technology as a piece of their lives they have control over. AI’s speed and efficiency may allow them to accomplish tasks faster and break free from technology more often.


Like their Gen Z predecessors, Gen Alpha is purpose-driven, comfortable in its shoes, and embraces people being themselves. Authenticity is paramount.

But how will they feel about consuming AI-generated content? It’s a fascinating question that we won’t know the answer to in the short term, but companies will want to watch which side of the pendulum sentiment leans. If Alphas don’t care to know if what they are consuming is AI-generated, it could be a seismic shift in industry standards and expectations for information sharing. If they do prioritize transparency and take organizations to task, those hoping to leverage AI tools will need to take the necessary steps to maintain their young consumers’ trust.

Growing up in an innovation cycle can define a generation. Technology is certainly not the only factor for why age groups differ culturally, but the parallels are fascinating to study. With its power and potential to transform our world, the current combination of Gen AI and Generation Alpha may bring the most impactful outcomes yet.

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Dani Mariano is the president of Razorfish. More

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