The UK’s kids have now gone back to school. But there’s more in their bags this year than pencils and gym kits…
Back to school – the time when kids around the globe beg for expensive trainers, school supplies with far too many sparkles, and increasingly… the latest electronic gadget.
A recent study from uSwitch surveyed 1,000 parents with children under the age of 17 about their use of technical gadgets and their budget for the upcoming school year. The results of the study revealed that 26 percent of parents planned to purchase a tablet, mobile, or laptop for their kid; with the average family expecting to splash out about £329. This adds up to £659 million spent on new tech this September.
Further investigations by uSwitch showed 49 percent of students take at least one electronic item to school every day, with the average student carrying around £130’s worth of tech in the their school bag.
What’s more, children are now using technological devices not only for educational and recreational reasons, but for safety as well, with 82 percent of parents claiming that this was a major deciding factor in their electronic purchases.
Ernist Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com says, “Kids today are learning to use gadgets even before they can walk, and parents are investing heavily in the latest tech for school too- the new term has sparked a flurry of gadget purchases.”
The use of technology so young might seem shocking, but uSwitch’s study shows the average age that a child starts to use a mobile telephone for entertainment is 5 years and 8 months old. Most kids receive their own personal mobile at 9 years and 10 months old.
Some parents (22 percent) admit to allowing their children access to mobiles and tablets at two years old and under, as a form of distraction or just to keep the young ones quiet.
The rise in young children using technology isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 80 percent of parents surveyed felt that staying up to date on the latest gadgets gave their child an educational advantage. This is a widespread idea that most schools are agreeing with and, as a result, changing the way kids study all together. More than a quarter (27%) of lesson work is typed these days as well as a third (33%) of homework.
The majority (82%) of parents agree that technology is necessary and essential to their children’s lives. However, mums and dads are also worried that new practices will bring new problems, too. The reliance on typing and spellcheck is causing some parent’s concern. Between 60 and 70 percent of parents are worried about technology’s effect on handwriting, spelling skills, and mental arithmetic skills.
Bullying and theft have also become a concern when so many young children are toting expensive accessories. One in ten children have had gadgets stolen at school, and reportedly, more than half (58%) experienced taunting or teasing based on the brand or type of technology they use.
To make sure you have a degree of control over your child’s tech use, here are a few good practices to employ on your web connected devices…
Use the parental controls that are available, most are free and easy to use.
Keep an eye on what your kids are viewing by regularly checking browser history and keeping web connected devices centrally located in your home.
Block downloads with password protection to keep unwanted software and spyware off your devices.
Talk to your children often about the dangers on the web. Schools begin web awareness campaigns as early as five years old. Ask your kids what they are seeing and keep them educated about the potential risks.
To find more information on how to keep your children safe online visit nspcc.org.uk. Here you can get great tips, tools, and advice on the threats kids are facing in the digital world.