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The Geek Girl Report: Class Is In Session! What “Back-to-School” Gadgets Do Students Really Need?

Christopher Furlong, Getty Images

It’s that time of the year again, time to kick the kids off the video games and send them back to school. Coincidentally, it’s also the time of year that major retailers seem to push all their big-name electronics, like laptops and tablets and the like. But just because your child is going back to school doesn’t mean you need to rush out and buy the latest and greatest gadget for them, especially if you’re on a tight back-to-school budget. Here’s a couple of suggestions on some high-tech school supplies your kids will actually need, not just the ones they want.

Computers and Laptops

Today, computers have become as integral to schoolwork as your standard pen and paper. But unlike pen and paper, you don’t have to get a new one each time you go up a grade. A good computer should last you through several grades, provided you take care of your machine and keep it current. But if you absolutely must have a new computer, there are a few things you should keep an eye out for. Aside from a low price tag, students need a laptop that is both lightweight and durable, and has a long battery life, 6 hours at the least.


In addition to that fancy laptop computer, you’ll probably be seeing plenty of ads and sales for tablet computer as well. However, in my opinion, tablets are more of a “want” than a “need” for back-to-school. Sure, there are plenty of apps available on these tablets to help your kids with everything from studying for the big test to writing that major essay. But let’s face it: they’re quite expensive, they’re not too durable, and the temptation to play around on them instead of study with them is just too great.  Kids don’t need tablets for back to school, no matter what kind of deal you may be getting on it.


It may not be a necessity right now, but with many schools and universities beginning to phase out the old, clunky textbooks and go the digital route, you could call E-Readers an investment in the future. Several years from now, instead of lugging around heavy textbooks from class to class, a student can just whip out the E-Reader and have all of their textbooks available and ready to go without all the weight or fumbling through a backpack. But right now, E-Readers aren’t really an essential unless you know for a fact your school has their textbooks available online or in a digital format.


Even the most humble of school supplies are getting a high-tech upgrade. Take the backpack, for example. There are now backpacks that have a built-in strobe lights and sirens to help attract attention to your child if they are in danger. Now, if you have some serious concerns for your child’s safety, then a gadget like this might be worth looking into. (or maybe finding another school if you’re THAT worried…) But for the rest of us, a good-old fashioned durable backpack should suit your student’s needs just fine.

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