Ten Things Gen Alpha Children Don’t Understand

We are all aware that the world our children live in is very different than the world we lived in when we were little. Looking back as few as ten years ago, I am amazed at how much things have changed even though I still think ten years ago was the 90s. 

Technology has changed many things—not only are rotary phones obsolete, but there are many, many things the younger generations will never know how to do simply because life is so different now. There have been times when my children and my friends’ children have been in situations that are so strange to them, but come so naturally to us, until I realize they simply are not used to it. These realizations make me giggle every time. Here are some of my favorites. 

Film Cameras

Of course, we all have thousands of photos of our children. They’re not only used to constantly having their picture taken, but they know they can immediately see how it turned out. When my hipster friends took a picture of us with an old film camera, my boys wanted to see the photo, but they couldn’t wrap their heads around the concept of developing film. “So, you have to take your camera to a place so you can see your photos?” they asked. “Why wouldn’t you just see it on your phone?” Ha! It all seems so easy for them. 

Non-touch Screens 

Turns out that when children are used to tablets and smartphones, their first encounter with a good old regular computer can be a little challenging. Their little fingers try to open icons on the computer screen and try to swipe between pages because they don’t know that you have to use a mouse with desktop computers.

Channel-Zapping on the TV

A couple of years ago my kids discovered live TV and realized not everything was always available on demand. One day they were at their grandparents’ house watching regular live cable programming. They were used to streaming their favorite movies and shows, so they asked to watch another episode and couldn’t believe it would not air until the next day. They soon figured out they could change the channel to find something else to watch, but whatever was on air, that was it—no unlimited library available for streaming. 

Going Potty Without Pausing the Show

They say kids these days will never know the thrill of running to the restroom, trying to make it back before the commercial ends. Children are now used to pausing, rewinding, and replaying as many times as they want. The day my kids discovered live TV they couldn’t understand how it was not possible to just pause the show and finish it later. Oh, if they only knew!

Landlines—and Asking for Someone On the Phone

Since my children don’t have a cell phone yet and we don’t have a landline at home, they have to use my phone every time they want to call somebody. A while ago, my oldest wanted to call his cousin. He borrowed my phone and happened to dial their landline. His uncle picked up and started chatting with him, but my son kept waiting for his uncle to put his cousin on the line. I soon realized he had never called someone’s house and had to ask for them. They will never know the fear of calling their crush’s house and having a parent answer. 

Radio

I used to love the radio, but now I mostly listen to music from a streaming app on my phone. I know I’m not the only one who has had to explain how radio works to our kids. “So they just play whatever songs they want? You don’t get to choose?” Yes, my loves, exactly like that. The radio host talks and then plays the songs he wants. Yes, there are more “channels” but we call them stations. No, you can’t pause the radio either. 

Commercials

My friend told me her kids didn’t know what commercials were. The first time they heard an ad on the radio they didn’t know what to do. “What’s that? Why are those people talking? Skip that!” The same thing happened when they couldn’t skip an ad on TV. In the age of commercial-free streaming, it’s a big realization when you find out you have to wait a couple of minutes for the next segment of your show. 

Getting Anywhere Without GPS

This one is confirmed to have happened to older children, but since we’re more and more dependent on GPS, I’m certain the same will happen with my kids’ generation. A friend of mine was very surprised when she realized her teenage nephew needed to use the navigation app on his phone to get from his house to her house, which is only a few minutes away. She quickly intervened to make sure he learned his way around without having to rely on Google Maps.  

Not Being Constantly Entertained 

Remember long road trips with your family? You either brought a book, sang a song, or looked out the window. Kids these days don’t know how to be bored. Cars and planes have TVs and they bring their phones or tablets everywhere—they can even bring their video games. There are screens everywhere—even some restaurants have games at the tables because a coloring menu and crayons are not exciting anymore. Long gone are the days of just looking out the window or counting cars.

Waiting

This one is the epitome of this generation. They don’t know how to wait. These children are used to having everything right there on the spot, fast and easy. The next episode of their favorite show, the exact song they want to listen to, the toy that they ordered online with next-day delivery, Face-timing with their friend who lives far away—everything is immediate for them. While I do not dare to complain about technology because it definitely makes our lives so much easier, I am a big believer that we have to let children wait and get bored from time to time. That way they can put their imagination to good use. Let’s not forget to teach our children to stop from time to time and appreciate the world they live in, because who knows? Maybe when they’re old, they’ll look back and giggle at the things from their childhood their children won’t understand.

Born and raised in Mexico just two hours away from San Antonio, Alejandra moved to the Alamo City in 2010 with her husband. A year later they welcomed their first son, and in 2013 she officially became a mom of two boys. She has a degree in Communications from the University of Monterrey, and has worked as a writer and editor for both print and web media. A classically trained pianist, Alejandra currently freelances as a copy writer and translator. Favorite Restaurant: Palenque Grill Favorite Landmark: The Historic Pearl Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Fiesta de las Luminarias