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Future Australians to begin school earlier and stay in school longer

WE'VE all heard of Gen X, Gen Y, even Gen Z - but in January we go to a whole new alphabet and welcome to the world the next instalment: Generation Alpha.

Social researchers and sociologists claim the babies born into new Generation Alpha - dubbed Gen A - will be the most formally educated generation in history.

Researcher Mark McCrindle said sociologists came up with the name because scientists moved on to the Greek alphabet when they had exhausted the Latin, The Sunday Telegraph reports.

"It's not so much going back to the beginning as starting a brand new page," said Mr McCrindle, the author of a new book about global generations, The ABC Of XYZ.

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He said 2010 babies and other Australians born over the next 15 years would begin school earlier and study for longer than those from previous generations.

Gen A members were also expected to be more materialistic and technology-focused.

"As the children of older, wealthier parents with fewer siblings and more entertainment and technological options, it's likely they'll be the most materially supplied generation ever," said the McCrindle Research director.

He said the material aspect was a key issue, with research groups showing one-third of households spent more than $500 per child per year.

"Half of the toys children have are electric or battery-powered, which are more expensive," he said. "These 'Google' kids are really being shaped in a world of technology and consumerism."

Nicole Le Lievre's twin boys will be among the first Australians born into the Gen A demographic next year.

The Wahroonga 33-year-old said she was thrilled her boys, due on January 3, would be part of the next generation.

"It's exciting to think of the types of opportunities that will be open to them," she said.

"We're excited, but also a little bit daunted by that amount of information and the security around that - it's a bit frightening in regard to how they can be protected.

"We don't want them to see too much too young - it's important that they still get to be kids."

This sentiment is echoed by social commentator Neer Korn, who said there could be a backlash against consumerism in Generation Alpha, with some parents going back to basics in the hope their children will hold on to their youth for longer.

"What we can't predict is (whether) the opposite could happen and there could be a backlash," he said. "There are already discussions about kids starting school at six - so a reassessment may be taking place."

Generation Alpha takes the reins from Gen Z - those born since 1995, who will make up 36 per cent of the workforce in 2020.

About 90 per cent of the class of 2020 are expected to complete Year 12, and 40 per cent will go on to further tertiary study.

They are expected to work longer and have an average of five careers and 20 different employers in their lifetimes, according to data from McCrindle Research.

Helensburgh mother-of-three Kathie Upcroft said her youngest son, Harry, 6, was a prime example of Gen Z.

"I've been saying to my children for a few months now, 'You're so fortunate to be going through your generation in this era right now,' " Ms Upcroft said. "And as a parent, seeing it all is pretty special."

Author Douglas Coupland, who coined the term Generation X in his best-selling book, has recently released a sequel, Generation A, a satirical take on pop culture and the future.

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Posted in: News by SoulRiser on February 21, 2010 @ 11:48 PM

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