Parents say teens need laptops and smartphones for school

teen girl smiling with mobile phone

Back to School Spending Up This Year: FatWallet surveyed American parents and asked them about their spending plans for this year’s Back to School season, what’s #1 on their shopping lists and how much they’ll spend this year. Parents also shared their views on when they thought students should have their own tech products (laptops, tablets or smartphones) and when to find the best deals.

Almost 9 in every 10 parents said they plan to spend the same or more than they did last year for school related products and more than 3 in 4 surveyed said that they will buy new clothes, shoes and school supplies. There’s a few logical reasons for increased back to school spending, including a trend for significantly lower pricing on bigger ticket items this year like laptops, tablets and the new “must-have”, smartphones. 1 in 4 parents are likely to purchase student laptops or tablets this year and next to Black friday, they said Back to school sales offered the best time to find good deals.

Other interesting trends revealed that the majority of parents thought laptops were better suited for helping students be successful in school over tablets and 2 in 3 think teens should have a smartphone. Parents also said next to new clothes/shoes, they thought kids want smartphones over computing devices.

Full Survey Results (*TNS Global):

School supplies and clothes top back to school shopping lists for 75% of parents, while textbooks will be purchased by 30%.

Q: Which back to school shopping items are you planning to purchase this year?

  • 15% – Laptop, tablet or computer
  • 78% – School Supplies
  • 73% – Clothes and shoes
  • 15% – Smartphone/Cell Phone
  • 30% – Textbooks

Note: While only 15% notes they’ll buy tech products, their sentiment towards these purchases rises in the survey questions that followed-see below.

88% of parents said they will spend the same or more than they did last year.

Q: How much do you plan to spend on school related supplies and products this year?

  • 31% – More than last year
  • 58% – Same as last year
  • 12% – Less than last year

[STATISTICS]: Consumers are expected to spend 12% more on school supplies this year. (National Retail Federation).

Every girls crazy ‘bout a sharp dressed … texter? when it came to which school items kids want most, next to new clothes and shoes, they want smartphones much more than tablets and laptops.

Q: Which of the following items do you think kids “want” most for starting school this year?

  • 7% – Laptop
  • 14% – Tablet
  • 19% – Smartphone
  • 19% – School Supplies (general office supplies, backpacks, organizers, etc.)
  • 29% – Clothes and Shoes

Nike and Apple are kids’ most asked for brands, with Under Armour next.

Q: Which brands do kids ask for the most for school?

  • 22% – Apple
  • 12% – Samsung
  • 30% – Nike
  • 12% – Converse
  • 12% – Adidas
  • 12% – Forever 21
  • 10% – American Eagle
  • 2% – Lululemon
  • 18% – Under Armour
  • 14% – Levi’s

Note: About 50% of responded noted that kids ask for “Other Brands” than those provided in the survey.

Parents overwhelmingly say teenagers need their own laptops and tablets.

Q: As a parent, what age group does it become more helpful for students to have their own laptop or tablet?

  • 10% Grade School (K-5)
  • 26% Middle School (6-8)
  • 42% High School (9-12)
  • 18% College
  • 2% Wait to buy their own

5 to 1, Parents say laptop are much better suited to help students learn than tablets or Desktop Computers.

Q: Which product is better suited to help most students with their school work?

  • 63% – Laptop
  • 12% – Tablet
  • 19% – Desktop Computer

1 in every 4 parents said they plan to purchase laptops or tablets for their kids this school year.

Q: How likely are you to purchase a new laptop or tablet this (school) year?

  • 11% – Very likely
  • 16% – Somewhat likely
  • 39% – Not very likely
  • 12% – Not this year, but probably next year

Back to School sales rank 2nd only to Black Friday for having the best deals on student laptops and tablets.

Q: Which sales event is most likely to have the best deals on a new Laptop or Tablet for a student?

  • 22% – Back to School Sales
  • 41% – Black Friday Sales
  • 9% – Cyber Monday Sales
  • 5% – December Holiday Sales
  • 5% – After Holiday (or New Years) Sales

Note: 18% offered that other sales have better deals than the bigger holiday sales events.

2/3 of parents say it’s practical for teens to have a smartphone

Q: As a parent, what age group does it become practical for students to have a Smartphone?

  • 3% – Elementary (9 or younger)
  • 15% – Pre Teen (10 -12)
  • 35% – Early Teen (13-15)
  • 30% – Late Teen (16-18)

Note: Some parents think (16%) students should wait to buy their own phone.

Note: *The national survey conducted online by TNS on behalf of in June 2014 was fielded among 1,000 adults ages 18 or older, 50/50 male/female.

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