Well, it’s that time again. The new academic year is almost upon us and parents up and down the country are packing shiny, pristine pencil-cases into satchels and sewing name tapes into uniforms.
But it’s not all about multi-coloured gel pens and backing your exercise books in snazzy wrapping paper anymore. As they’ve no doubt told you, the modern-day school-kid needs a whole range of gadgets and gizmos to help them get the best possible start in life.
So what do they really need? And how can you get these things without breaking the bank? Read on and we’ll walk you through what back-to-school tech to buy and where to get it.
1) A smartphone
Let’s face it, smartphones are a school essential for most kids. And, although the prospect of your child having their own phone can be a bit scary, there are definitely a lot of advantages to making sure your kid is contactable at all times.
For starters, you can call, text or even track them to make sure you always know where they are. And they can ring you to ask for a lift home anytime.
If you’ve decided to take the plunge and buy your child a phone, there are loads of ways to make sure your child is using their smartphone safely. For more information, check out our handy guide to getting a smartphone for your child.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that a lot of mobile networks have lots of child-friendly options. Take a look at our guide to the best networks for kids to find out what’s on offer.
Now the big question: what smartphone should you go for? Well, our pick is the Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus. This British phone has a decent battery life, a 16-megapixel camera and a fingerprint scanner for added security. And best of all, it only costs £157.
Want more options? Here’s our list of phones for kids and teenagers.
2) Something to help your child learn to code
In case you missed it, coding is now officially part of the national curriculum. Starting as young as five years old, school-kids will learn how to create and debug simple programs. And by the time they hit secondary school, they’ll be knocking up programs in a range of languages.
If you want to give your kids a head-start in coding, there are loads of products out there to help teach your kids the basics.
Our favourite is the Kano Computer Kit, which teaches you how to assemble a computer and how to write code on it too.
For more ideas on how to teach your kids how to code, check out our coding gift guide.
3) A proper alarm clock
There are few things in this world more difficult than trying to prise a teenager out of bed in time for school.
Well, why not get your little angel an alarm clock that actually forces them get out of bed? When this ingenious little alarm goes off, it rolls off the bedside table and across the room, meaning that you actually have to get out of bed to switch it off.
Get the Clocky alarm clock for £40.
4) An e-reader
Not got round to picking up all the books on your child’s reading list for next term? No problem. Get your child an e-reader and you can download the whole list in minutes.
An e-reader is much lighter and easier to carry around than a big pile of textbooks. And will probably work out cheaper in the long-run too.
Our favourite e-reader on the market at the moment is the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. It comes with a high-resolution screen, adjustable light and a battery that lasts weeks on a single charge.
Get the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite for £109.99.
5) A laptop
With more and more homework now being typed rather than written, a laptop is a must-have piece of kit for the modern-day school-kid.
And if you’re looking for a good deal, you’ll struggle to do better than this HP Stream laptop for £189.99. For this very reasonable price, you’ll get a decent processor, sharp screen and 2GB RAM and 32GB storage, which is expandable via SD card. You’ll also be bequeathed a very generous 1TB of Cloud Storage.
Even better, you’ll get a free 1-year subscription to Office 365 Personal thrown in, which will give you full access to Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
Get the HP Steam laptop for £189.99.
6) A memory stick
Nowadays, a memory stick is as much an essential school supply as a pencil-case or calculator.
There are loads to choose from, but this USB stick is great value at £7.99. That outlay buys you a whopping 8GB of memory. And it’s waterproof too, so your child’s homework won’t be ruined if they drop it in a puddle on the way to school.
Get the USB memory stick for £7.99.
To be honest, this may be a more of a gift for you than the intended recipient, particularly if your child is a fan of Justin Bieber or the sort of autotune-heavy pap that passes for Pop music these days.
These Volume Limited headphones are actually made for kids, so they’ll fit snugly over their ears and can’t be turned up loud enough to risk damaging their hearing. This also means they’ll be able to hear you when you call them for dinner.
Despite this, the sound quality is surprisingly good. And the headphones come in a range of funky colours.
Get the Volume Limited kids headphones for £16.58.