Back-to-school shopping trends reflect changing education sector

Posted on Monday, 8/26/2013 4:06 PM

Computers, electronic whiteboards and mobile devices are becoming more common classroom materials with each passing academic year. Different forms of technology are also becoming the norm on parents' back-to-school shopping lists, which just shows how rapidly the American education sector is changing.

Interest in technology increases
American Express recently released findings from its latest Spending & Saving Tracker, which was based on responses from 2,001 adults. Overall, 92 percent of these individuals plan to do some back-to-school shopping this fall and spend an average of $1,094. This figure is 26 percent higher than it was last year, and with good reason. The desire to purchase specific gadgets has risen since last year.

For instance, in 2012, American Express found that 15 percent of respondents had laptops on their back-to-school shopping lists. This year, however, 25 percent of individuals want one of these portable computers. Interest in tablets has also more than doubled. A total of 15 percent of adults have an interest in purchasing tablets, as opposed to 7 percent of individuals in 2012.

Meanwhile, mobile phones and scientific calculators are only slightly more appealing to parents than they were last year. Still, there is no denying that back-to-school shoppers are spending more time looking at electronic devices instead of pencils and pens.

"Items like pencils, notebooks and crayons are completely 'old school' on parents' shopping lists," said David Rabkin, senior vice president of U.S. Consumer Lending Products at American Express. "Instead, they're investing in the latest technology to help [their children] learn, and we expect technology spending for back-to-school to only continue to increase in the years to come."

Necessary tools
With so much educational software for students on the market today, as well as a greater interest in creating virtual classroom environments, the more familiar students are with technology the better.

In fact, an understanding of technology is considered to be a key outcome of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills' Framework for 21st Century Learning. With the right approach to instruction, among other factors, the hope is that students will progress through their academic careers with the information, media and technology skills they need, according to the organization's website.

Students who have their own laptops or tablets not only have a chance to use them outside of the classroom, but are better able to participate in bring your own device programs, which are becoming more popular in schools.


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