It’s that time again, the new academic year is almost upon us and parents up and down the country are readying their children for the start of term. Meanwhile new university students are getting set to fly the nest into an exciting world of essays, shared housing and glorious independence.
But, things have come a long way from the days of just needing a new lunchbox and some pens to start a new term. As they’ve no doubt told you, the modern-day student 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? From essential devices to special gifts, read on and we’ll walk you through what back-to-school tech to buy and where to get it.
It’s 2019 - smartphones are vital for all ages. 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 on smartphone safety.
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 for younger users is the Nokia 4.2. This smartphone from everyone's favourite old school phone maker has a bright 5.7-inch Full HD+ screen, a 13-megapixel camera and a decent battery. It runs on the latest Android OS so you can load it up with useful apps to help them in school and energise their brains. And maybe even a few games too.
It’s not lacking in the design department either and comes in pink or black, so your children won’t lose any cred, and at just £129, it’s a real bargain.
Want to read more about mobile phones for kids? Here’s our useful guide with more info.
For teenagers heading to uni, you’ll probably want to get them a decent plan with plenty of minutes and data, so they can stay in touch when they’re away from home. With SIM-only deals you can get unlimited calls and texts, as well as a lot of data, without breaking the bank of mum and dad.
So if your beloved child/teenager/almost-an-adult-but-will-always-be-a-baby-in-your-eyes already has a smartphone you could cover their costs from as little as £5 a month. This way you’ll give them a little help financially and be safe in the knowledge they’ll always be able to get in touch if they need to.
Check out our range of SIM-only deals
Whether it’s for note taking in the lecture hall or doing their homework, a paper pad just doesn’t cut it anymore. In the digital age, a laptop is a must-have piece of kit for all levels of studying.
The Dell Latitude 3300 is a great choice if you’re looking for impressive specs at a decent price. For just £329, you’ll get an Intel Core i5 processor, sharp screen and massive battery that lasts up to 16 hours. It’ll easily run all sorts of useful apps and programs to help power through those all-nighters in the library.
Under the hood, you’ll get 4GB RAM and 64GB storage, so that’s a good amount of space for those important docs. And photos. And movies.
It’s built to last too, with a kid-proof design that can withstand drops on the floor and spills on the keyboard. With a 180 degree screen the Latitude 3300 is also perfect for group work and creative collaborations.
Check out the Dell Latitude 3300 laptop.
The Google Pixel Slate is a cool piece of kit that’ll go down great as a leaving gift. It combines the best of both laptop and tablet worlds.
You get the specs and performance of a laptop packaged up in the shape of a tablet. It’s got a beautiful 12-inch, touchscreen, Quad HD display - twice as nice as Full HD.
It’s brilliant for tapping and swiping through websites, staying entertained on long train rides with Netflix, and keep on top of work and organisation.
Since it’s a Chromebook, it’s really easy to use and you can load it up with all those important Google apps like Drive, Docs, Mail and plenty more.
And with a 12 hour battery life, it’ll go from morning lectures to afternoon study sessions to evening streaming without needing a charge.
Get the Google Pixel Slate.
A memory stick
Nowadays, a memory stick is as essential as a pen or calculator. Keep all your work safely on a USB and you’ve got a great backup for sudden computer problems, as well as a pocketable way of carrying around files.
There are loads to choose from, but this USB stick is great value. Less than a tenner buys you a whopping 64GB of memory. That’s more than enough space for an entire term’s worth of coursework, presentations and homework.
Get the USB memory stick.
Something to help your child learn to code
Up there with English, science, and maths, coding is now officially a big part of education.
Kids as young as five years old will learn how to create and debug simple programs. Secondary schoolers will be knocking up programs in a range of languages, and teenagers taking these skills into higher education will be priming themselves for careers in all sorts of exciting tech industries.
If you want to give your kids a head-start in creating the next Google, there are loads of products out there to help teach your kids the basics of coding.
Our favourite is the Kano Computer Kit, which teaches you how to assemble a computer and how to write code on it too.
We love e-readers. They save space, store thousands of books, and can fit in your bag - what’s not to like?
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, so it’s also perfect for someone who’s moving into student accommodation. 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. Oh, and it’s waterproof too.
Get the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite for £119.99.
Music, podcasts, hands-free phone calls - a good pair of headphones always comes in handy.
These JVC 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 £13.99.
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, or getting up for lectures after a night in the student union.
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.