- Children will take £2.3 billion of gadgets into school this year, each carrying an average of £300 of electronic gear — up 38% in three years
- Half of parents want schools to ban mobile phones, with one in eight saying their child’s has already done so
- Parents will spend £1.4 billion — up £200 million since 2016 — on smartphones, tablets, laptops and other gadgets for their kids ahead of the new school term, paying an average of £264 per child
- Four in ten children have a better phone than their parents — with more than half of pupils having one of the latest models
- Nine in 10 parents are concerned about letting their children walk to school with expensive technology, with a quarter driving them instead
- Parents are spending more than £13 billion a year on mobile phone bills for their schoolchildren
Half of parents (49%) want their child’s school to ban mobile phones, according to new research from uSwitch.com, the price comparison and switching service – which also found that pupils now take more than £2.3 billion of gadgets into the classroom every day.
Four in ten children (40%) take at least one gadget to school every day, while a fifth (18%) take two, and almost one in ten (8%) take three. More than half of children (56%) take a smartphone to school, with 15% carrying a tablet computer, 12% wearing a smartwatch and 11% using Bluetooth headphones. A quarter of pupils (26%) don’t bring any devices with them.
Pupils who do bring gadgets to school carry two each on average, with 14.6 million electronic devices being brought into UK classrooms every day. Each tech-carrying pupil has £301 worth of gadgets in their school bag – a 38% increase from 2016, when parents said their children carried £219 worth of electronic gear.
Parents will spend £1.4 billion on electronic devices ahead of the new term – up from £1.2 billion in 2016 – and equal to £264 per child. Some 2.3 million schoolchildren are being bought a new smartphone, 1.7 million will get a tablet, and 1.6 million will be given a laptop.
More than half (54%) of children have the latest model of phone, with four in ten (43%) having a better model than their parents.
A quarter (27%) of parents said they had considered downgrading their child’s smartphone to a ‘dumbphone’ that can only be used for calls and texts, to remove potential distractions. One in eight parents (13%) said their child’s school had already banned phones.
Almost nine in ten (87%) parents said they pay their child’s mobile phone bill in full, at £18 a month on average. It means that UK parents are forking out more than £1.3 billion a year on mobile phone bills for their schoolchildren.
Almost nine in ten (88%) parents are concerned about letting their children walk to school while carrying so much expensive technology, with a quarter (23%) saying they were very concerned.
A quarter (26%) of parents said they were driving their child to and from school because of their concerns about safety, and a similar number (21%) had banned their offspring from walking or using public transport to get to classes.
Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at uSwitch.com, comments: “It’s a mark of our always-connected times that half of pupils now have their own smartphone, and the number of gadgets that schoolchildren are carrying into class every day is mind-boggling.
“It is understandable that parents are concerned about the potential distractions facing their children, but banning phones from schools is not as straightforward as it sounds, especially since technology is an integral part of modern life.
“Children are very likely to be using a whole range of gadgets when they enter the world of work, and school is one place where they should be able to learn about technology in a safe environment.
“In addition, many parents want the peace of mind of being able to contact their children in emergencies, and find out where they are if they don’t appear at home at the usual time, whether by calling them or by using an app like Apple’s Find My Phone.
“Striking the right balance is an impossible task for parents and teachers, but with the arrival of 5G, the world is going to become increasingly connected, and schoolchildren need to be able to deal with the tech-filled environment they’re growing up in.”
Find out how you could save nearly £1,000 a year with uSwitch here.