Generations of Play – A Desperate Need for Change

As I sit researching, developing and designing our training content for next year I am overwhelmed by the need for change.

The World Economic Forum talks of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a result being we now find ourselves in the middle of a global reskilling emergency.

In a recent report, McKinsey describes ‘intentional learning’ as the most fundamental skills for the coming decades, for this new digital age.

Generation Alpha

We are now in an early year’s world where generation alpha children “wallow” in our environments.

Generation Alpha is anyone born between the years of 2010 and 2024. Today more than 2.5 million people are born to this generation every week, so by 2024 there will be more than 2 billion of the Alpha generation.

It is believed that this generation will be the most diverse in history. Studies indicate that most of this generation are passionate about inclusivity and helping people will be one of their top priorities as they develop and grow.

Evidence suggests that any of our children born after 2010’s formative years have been massively impacted and shaped by the global pandemic. The statistics tell us that many of this generation already worry about becoming ill and missing out on time with their families.


In their Hearts

On a positive note, caring for the planet is in their hearts and minds, they are interested and passionate to implement sustainable change.

Many Gen Alpha children suggest playing more video games and scrolling social media is more of a priority than spending time with their families or going to activity clubs.

There is also a big drop in children playing sports 11% less are playing after school and 17% less at the weekend.

Children of Millennials

Generation Alpha children also tend to be children of Millennials. As children only about 6 in 10 millennials were raised by both parents so they tend to place more importance on a good parenting and even marriage that their career and financial success.

A lot of generation Alpha will perhaps be in a one child family, and much of the gathered thinking suggests there is more of a chance now of them growing up selfish and expecting instant gratification.

Global Awareness

With this generation there is no question that they will be much more globally aware, and they will develop new skills thanks to tech. However their use of physical toys is reduced, the development of imagination and creativity may suffer due to this lack of manipulation, of pondering, trying, failing and adapting their ideas physically.

They are the most tech infused demographic. They seem to know and understand complex ideas and are able to do things that are well beyond their age.

If we look at the previous generation’s traits, alongside those of Generation Alpha, it should make us at least consider a need for change in the way we share play, in the environments we share and for the role that we, the adult play within the play.

1.     Greatest GenerationDisciplinedDeterminedResilient
2.     Silent GenerationTraditionalPatientResponsible
3.     Baby BoomersCompetitiveConfidentSociable
4.     Gen XIndependentScepticalFlexible
5.     MillennialsRisk TakerAmbitiousSelf-Centred
6.     Gen ZCreativeOpen MindedSensitive
7.     Gen AlphaLogicalObjectiveSelf-Awareness


Intentional Learning

Even if we are not convinced of any of this, having a conversation around these ideas, statistics and findings will stimulate the possibilities of a need for moving forward in a slightly different direction.

It should also lead to us questioning the quality and relevance of the play we offer. We have no choice but to ensure the play is spectacular. We must meet the challenge of stimulating their imaginative creative juices.

Our team is now diving deeply into the world of ‘intentional learning’. We are looking to ensure we treat every experience as an opportunity to learn. Before we may have thought we were doing this,  but we now realise it must be about the desire to learn from every experience, not just those we see as goals, aims, objectives or academic priorities.

It’s time to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution. I suggest we turn a lens on the McKinsey report.

Special thanks to Paolo Lopez of Kinderoo Ocala for allowing us to use these beautiful images.