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'£130 of gadgets' in schoolbag

More than a quarter of parents plan to spend an average of £329 per family on gadgets for their children ahead of the new school year, a survey has found.

The average school bag now contains £130 worth of gadgets and almost half of children (49%) take at least one to the classroom, according to the poll for uSwitch.

Some 48% of school children take a mobile phone to school - 26% own smartphones and 22% own feature phones - and 8% regularly take tablets.

But almost one in 10 children (9%) have had gadgets stolen at school and 14% have been bullied, with 58% of these children reporting they were subject to taunts about the brand they were using.

More children now do their homework on tablets (24%) than desktop computers (20%), although most (38%) use laptops, and the majority of parents (80%) say technology gives their children an educational advantage.

But 66% of parents have concerns about their children's reliance on spell check, 61% worry about technology's effect on handwriting and 60% about its impact on mental arithmetic skills.

The study found that more than a quarter (27%) of all lesson work and 33% of homework is now typed rather than handwritten, while 25% of school children now submit their homework by email or via an online system set up by their school.

And although most parents (82%) say technology is an essential part of their children's lives, 43% are concerned that they will not be able to help with homework because they lack the technological nous.

The average age for a child to receive their first mobile is nine years and 10 months, the poll revealed, although 82% of parents who have bought handsets for their children do so for safety reasons, 38% cited recreational reasons and 24% said they had educational purposes in mind.

But the average British child is even younger when they receive their first tablet - at just eight years and seven months - with 75% of parents who have bought these doing so for educational purposes and 73% also citing recreational reasons.

While almost two thirds (63%) of parents restrict time spent using gadgets, 80% agree that technology has made their lives easier as it keeps their kids entertained and 70% say they have used gadgets not including televisions to keep their children quiet.

Parents start using smartphones or tablets as a distraction when their children are aged five years and eight months on average, although more than a fifth (22%) are two years old or younger.

Telecoms spokesman for uSwitch, Ernest Doku, said: "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.

"Slates were commonplace in schools, and it appears we've gone full circle. Only the slates of today are touch screen with quad-core processors and millions of apps.

"Although gadgets are great educational tools, it's important to monitor your child's usage to ensure they are safe online - as well as actually doing their homework.

"The connected classroom might be making it a necessity for the younger generation to have access to learning aids on their shiny new tablets, but it is important for parents to remain engaged and involved, and make sure the apps they are installing are as educational as they are entertaining."

:: OnePoll surveyed 1,000 UK parents with children aged 17 and under online in August.


From Belfast Telegraph