Parents of school children across the UK will splash out a staggering £659 million on back to school gadgets, according to new research.
26% of parents plan to treat their children ahead of the autumn term, spending an average of £329 per family, according to research from uSwitch.com.
It suggests that pens and pencils are no longer the essential items, with the average backpack now containing £130 worth of technology as back to school costs mount.
Almost half of children take at least one gadget to school, with 26% of kids owning smartphones, and 8% taking tablets with them to the classroom on a regular basis.
Popularity of technology continues to increase
The study suggests that more than a quarter of lesson work and a third of home work is now typed instead of handwritten, while 25% of children submit home work online.
Technology is increasing in popularity, with more children using tablets to complete home work than on a regular desktop computer, while 38% use laptops to do so.
This is not without its downsides though, as a number of parents admitted to having concerns about the increasing reliance upon technology.
Some four in ten parents were also worried that they lacked the technical nous to be able to actively support their children with home work as a result.
Providing an educational advantage
However, 80% of parents said they felt technology would provide their children with an educational advantage.
Children now receive mobile phones around nine years and ten months into their lives on average, with 82% of parents saying they purchase one for safety reasons.
Meanwhile, 75% of parents revealed they purchased tablets for their children for educational purposes – although this occurred at an even younger age on average – at just eight years and seven months.
The use of technology is also used as a way to keep children entertained, according to the report. Although its increasing use in education signals how the world is developing.
“Slates were commonplace in schools, and it appears we’ve gone full circle, only the slates of today are touchscreen with quad-core processors and millions of apps,” said Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at Uswitch.
Financing a connected classroom
As the education system moves towards being a connected one, parents must consider how to fund such technological purchases, especially if they are working to a strict budget.
One option could involve loading a prepaid card with funds, as only money placed onto the card could be spent, ensuring that overspending on tech would not occur.
However, the cards can be topped up if necessary and can be replaced if they are lost or stolen without funds being affected.
Unlike credit and debit cards, prepaid cards are not directly linked to a bank account, making fraudulent activity a lot more difficult.