In most homes around the country with young children, it’s common to hear a device singing ABCs to a bright-eyed youngster glued to a smartphone. You’ll also likely hear giggles from a toddler who is video calling grandma with a cat or clown filter. Chances are, you’ll also see a young student in-front of a tablet or computer doing homework. This is their world— a life they’ve never known without devices and the Internet. They’re known as Generation Alpha— kids born in the early 2010’s to mid-2020’s.
“If we didn’t have internet in our home, there would be chaos,” Patricia Rojas, a mother of five, said.
This year, back-to-school time for parents like Rojas means having to make sure her “alphas” have the devices and reliable connections they need to fuel their educational success. Rojas and her children — along with thousands of other parents and students— recently attended the Mayor’s back-to-school event at the George R. Brown Convention Center. They visited booths, stocked up on school supplies like backpacks and pencils and also had a chance to browse Internet plans and devices at the Xfinity display.
“In this day and age, connectivity and the Internet, it’s almost like having your lunch,” Houston ISD Superintendent Millard House III said. “It’s essential. Students not only have to have it inside of the school building but now at home. Even though the pandemic is behind us in some sorts, connectivity has to be in front of us.”
The Alpha generation will lead a world more connected than ever. Comcast Houston sent multiple teams out to “Back To School” events. Those gatherings spanned southeast Texas. From Baytown to Spring, Xfinity experts showed up and will continue to show up to help families access available resources including Internet Essentials and the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program, ACP. The program saves eligible families up to $30 a month on Internet and mobile service.
“Even $30 off of a bill makes a difference on our behalf,” Rojas said. “It’s huge.”
Rojas and other families pointed to the pandemic, inflation and rising costs of gas as factors that have added additional strain on their families. Some families have had to make a choice between paying for the Internet at home or putting food on the table.
“One thing that COVID did, it really unveiled how much disconnect exists even within the City of Houston,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “Comcast is one of the key pillars of this village. It’s important that if we want to make a better future, we have to do everything we can to prepare these kids for today.”
According to the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Communities Survey, one in ten households, or 687,086 households, in the greater Houston area do not have an internet subscription or do not have a computer.
Comcast, the Houston area’s largest internet service provider, announced earlier this month it is investing more than one million dollars in 2022 to local non-profit organizations that help students, adults and people with disabilities ‘level up’ their computer, career development and tech education skills.