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Back-to-School Gadget Buys Are Up, Though Kids Still Need Pencils To Chew On

Ninety two percent of Americans will hit the stores for back-to-school shopping this fall, spending an average of $1,094 on supplies, up 26% since last year, according to the latest American Express Spending and Savings Tracker . A probable cause for the increase, half of parents with school-aged children plan to buy at least one digital gadget this back-to-school season, up from just 36% last year. Top tech buys on the back-to-school lists include:

  • Laptops (25% vs. 15%)
  • Scientific calculators (18% vs. 15%)
  • Tablets (15% vs. 7%)
  • Mobile phones (13% vs. 12%)

Download and view: American Express Spending & Saving Tracker

Infographic: Parents' Electronic Back to School Shopping List

Of parents buying their kids a mobile phone, nearly seven in ten will purchase a high-tech smartphone. On average, parents believe that age 12 is the most appropriate time for kids to get their first cell phone.

“Items like pencils, notebooks and crayons are completely ‘old school’ on parents’ shopping lists,” said David Rabkin, SVP U.S. Consumer Lending Products, American Express. “Instead, they’re investing in the latest technology to help them learn, and we expect technology spending for back-to-school to only continue to increase in the years to come.”

K-8 Students Use Electronics More Than Older Siblings

Kids aren’t just using the latest technology to watch funny cat videos. This year, devices are highly valued as learning tools, with 70% of all students using technology, like tablets and smartphones, to support learning. Younger students are embracing technology at higher rates than their older siblings, with 74% of students in grades K-8 incorporating digital devices into their studies, vs. 71% of their high school counterparts. Tablets are the device of choice for the K-8 set, with 48% using them for learning, compared to 43% of high school students.

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