Back to School Tech

With September approaching I think everyone is thinking about going back to school (not least the parents). With this in mind we are going to look at some of the most (and least) important tech you can buy to get yourself ready for the new term.

Back-up to School :

Originally this was going t go after I talked about laptops. But then I realised that this might be the most important piece of Tech you will ever buy for your child! Get them a portable hard drive. Seriously they are less than £50! Buy your child:

  • a portable hard drive!
  • a pen drive!
  • and if you really want to be thorough cloud storage!

First things first PORTABLE and EXTERNAL are not the same thing. I know this seems like a minor difference, but many external hard drives are not build to be knocked about, portable hard drives actually can take a few knocks before you loose everything and that might give you just enough time to back up your work before it dies. This is the reason you don’t just have a pen drive, because they get lost, break suddenly and should NEVER be for long term storage. Don’t get me wrong they still need one on their keys, because some old computers or different operating systems won’t accept a big hard drive. It’s good for moving files onto new machines, less good for storing the only copy of your coursework. Cloud storage is a big investment and in reality most of you won’t need it. But there are free things like DropBox that can keep your work backed up and safe. It also means that if laptops are stolen, houses burn down or your hard drive breaks, the important stuff is saved (if they remember to back it up that is). Plus if you already have it for your own work, it might not hurt to set up a family account so they get use to it.

Laptops, Tablets and other Screen Tech :

The most common piece of tech we think about when you say “back to school” is a new laptop. This makes sense as most students will be doing the majority of their work on a computer. Access to the research on the internet, programmes like word, a place to store all digital work are just a few really good reasons why students of all ages should have access to a computer. But that’s the critical thing… “have access to”. If your child is in primary school do them a favour, don’t get them a new laptop. Go get a family computer and when you upgrade/ get a new one, then try giving them your old one, just to see how it goes and how they handle it. Kids will not use the internet for studying, it is the greatest distraction that has ever existed and limiting time spent on it is a good thing! At a young age children should have a restricted access to any screen time, it’s better for their grades, health and there is a direct link between GCSE results and too much screen time! So how much time should they spend in front of a device?

” 3-4-year-old spends three hours a day in front of a screen. This rises to four hours for ages 5-7, 4.5 hours by ages 8-11, and 6.5 hours for teenagers.”UK Ofcom Report 2012

Now if your child is going off to university then by all means buy them a new laptop! It’s a great way to take notes, it will help them stay connected and 90% of their work will have an online component (even art students have to type up notes). If your child is going to college, sure buy them a laptop… but don’t let them bring it to college. There is no reason to take a laptop to lessons at college, anytime you need a computer you will have one. Take paper notes on the few lectures you will have (trust me lectures are far less of a focus in college) and back up your work onto your laptop when you get home. The same goes for high school, you will be carrying so much stuff at that age that a laptop is just an expensive liability, even at GCSE you do not need a laptop with you in school! These years might be the last time in your life that hand writing skills are looked at, so practice writing so you can actually do your paper exams.

Speakers and TV’s

This is only for the proud parents of university students! This is also the one and only time I am going to say this on this next sentence: Buy the cheap one!  Firstly, those portable speakers will be used at parties, social events and surrounded by alcohol/strangers. That is just the reality, it might not be 24/7 but at some point in your son/daughter’s university life, they will party with people they don’t know very well. This is where tech gets broken, damaged or stolen. I know the whole “traffic cone” stealing drunk student is a stereotype… but there is a reason it exists, and sending them off with £500 speakers is just asking for trouble. Buy a £60 portable speaker and let them replace it if they break it! As for TV’s, remember the licence fee! It will be something that comes up and it will be something they need to think about. Even a cheap TV might not be worth it if they have to pay £150 each year to use it. If it is there final year, or they are moving into their first “proper home” then a TV is a great idea, but if they are a first year in student Diggs… then maybe just let them have the old one in the spare room. As I said before, students break stuff!

The last word on Tech :

And finally, the best piece of tech I can recommend for students of all ages. A black ball point pen! Not a pricey one, not a fancy one, not one with six colours and a microphone. A simple BIC black ball point pen. In fact buy a box and give them the full lot. They will get lost, they will get stolen, they will get broken or chewed or smashed, but that is the point (or should I say the ball point!). Even a primary school student should write with a pen now and again, it gets them use to writing in ink and never underestimate how “feeling all grown up” can help engage a child. Back to School

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