This autumn, British families are expected to add gadgets totalling £1.2bn to shiny new shoes and well-stocked pencil cases as ‘back to school’ technology expenditure trebles.
As school looms over the horizon for many households, parents are now choosing to buy their children increasingly large sums of technology, according to a survey by uSwitch.com. The amount spent on technology in preparation for the return to school has almost tripled from £135 last year to some £397 per household for this autumn.
This has all amounted to parents estimating their child's rucksack is now packed with an average of £219 worth of tech, including laptops, smartphones and tablets, with 13 per cent of children lining their bags with £500 worth of gadgets.
Currently, at primary schools across the country, 60 per cent of children have at least one personal gadget and 21 per cent own a mobile phone, contributing towards the some three and a half hours per day spent by the average child on screens. The figures are more extreme for secondary schools, with 90 per cent of students having their own gadgets, and over 40 per cent owning a mobile phone.
This rapid increase in technology ownership is not welcomed by schools, who mostly oppose the use of these gadgets on their premises. As 39 per cent of parents have found to their cost, many ban the use of tech like phones and tablets and confiscate them if found. Some schools, however, show signs of acceptance, with one in ten surveyed parents saying their child's school incorporates smartphone use into lessons and 35 per cent allowing their use outside of lessons.
Technology's increasing prevalence in the lives of children is nursing concerns among many parents that their child's social skills (55 per cent), handwriting (49 per cent) and spelling (58 per cent) may be seriously affected by reliance on technology.
Despite these concerns, however, some 95 per cent of parents believe that their child being tech savvy will greatly improve their future career prospects and over a fifth state this as the main reason for investing in their child's tech collection.
“Parents are recognising that kitting out children with tech builds on what they’re now learning in the classroom, such as how to code and create their own programs,” said uSwitch.com spokesman Ernest Doku.
“This might be over the heads of many mums and dads, but it’s great that most are recognising this is need-to-know stuff for their kids."