“Schools tell families what digital devices to buy for the start of term, and parents scrimp, save, borrow and beg to buy them,” observes consumer affairs commentator Rob Stock on New Zealand news site stuff.co.nz.
Here in Australia, the situation is exactly the same.
Last year, with a growing number of Australian schools getting on board the Bring Your Own Device bandwagon, the average spend on school supplies nearly doubled.
In 2018, the per-family bill for back-to-school technology alone was $269 - and this year’s total is bound to soar even higher.
Overall, parents spent 43% more on school supplies last year, according to a survey commissioned by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. The increase was driven largely by the demand by schools for parent-supplied technology.
The average Australian family spent a total of $829 on new textbooks, school supplies and uniforms, up from $472 the previous year.
Technology is by far the biggest-ticket item parents are shelling out for.
And it’s not just upper-primary and secondary students who are packing learning devices next to their lunchboxes.
Thirty-three percent of families with kids aged five to seven were also expecting to up their spending on devices.
Retailers maintain parents are not always driven by price alone, and are likely to look for suitability, durability and longevity.
How is this affordable?
Last year, the survey found, 29% of parents took advantage of instalment plans, while 42% purchased devices second-hand. Six out of ten gave their kids hand-me-downs, and 80% bought items on sale.
In New Zealand, where the federal government provides schools with free internet, uncapped data and subsidised devices for educators, there have been calls for tax rebates to cover BYOD devices for students as well.
In lower-income areas, Kiwi parents and educators have established community trusts to buy devices that parents can lease-to-buy for a few dollars a week.
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