Recent research has revealed that children will return to school with £3.2bn worth of tech in their school bags. It’s an astronomical amount, but it’s the stark change in attitude towards technology that’s got me thinking.
I only left school in 2005, but (and it may sound like I’m turning into some sort of Uncle Albert figure way ahead of my time), the difference between then and now is quite something.
During the war When I was at school, the idea of bringing expensive technology in with you was something that you (and your parents for that matter) simply wouldn’t consider. This was at a time when the iPhone had yet to kick-start the smartphone culture that we know today, and a tablet was still very much something you’d only see Star Trek’s Captain Picard playing with in the realms of science fiction.
At this stage, phones were a basic communication device, offering little besides calls and texts. My own parents’ attitude at this age was that there was no need for me to have one – after all, who would I need to contact? And why would I need to do so at school? The school agreed – if you brought a phone in with you it’d be confiscated quickly, a scenario that’d also involve you ending up in detention!
Tech in school bags
Just a decade on and attitudes have shifted – technology has been embraced to such an extent that we’re now actively encouraging the carrying and use of technology among our children.
According to the uSwitch survey I referenced in my intro, British parents are on average spending £270 on gadgets for their kids’ school bags, more than twice the amount as last year.
From smartphones and iPods, to tablets and laptops, the view has been flipped on its head in just ten years.
A connected world
So what’s brought about this shift in dynamic? After all, we got by OK before, didn’t we?
Phones are now connected to the internet at speeds a dial up modem could only dream of, improving to such an extent that the distraction factor is as high as it’s ever been, which only combines to make them an even more attractive proposition for potential theft.
Despite all this, we’ve accepted them as an integral part of our lives – our children included.
There’s seemingly little resistance from schools anymore, and many parents are reluctant to send their children out into the world without any means of contacting them. That’s certainly the case for one of the mums here at Which?
‘I feel much more comfortable knowing I’ve got a means to contact my daughter when she’s out and about – especially when she’s walking home from school. She’s actually got my old iPhone, so I can even keep an eye on where she is via GPS. I wouldn’t want her to go out anywhere without a phone on her.’
The idea of me going out with something as advanced as the original iPhone when I was at school would have given my parents nightmares, but now it’s become the norm for most school children.
Have you got children or grand-children returning to school in September? Are they armed with the latest smartphones, tablets and laptops?