Shopping for back-to-school supplies was once limited to picking up a few folders, spiral-bound notebooks and assorted writing implements. But today’s students need much more, including a variety of technological gadgets, to keep up with their classmates.

Technology is now an integral part of many classrooms, where Internet-ready devices such as tablets, computers and smartboards are part of daily lessons. Although some educators believe overuse of such devices in the classroom can have a negative impact on students and make it more difficult to capture and hold students’ attention, many feel that technology integrated into the curriculum improves students’ learning processes and outcomes, noting that interactive media and use of technology are conducive to project-based learning.

Many students already know how to browse the Internet, create blogs or manipulate photos. But they may not know how to make use of digital resources with regard to their education. Students cannot learn such lessons unless they are equipped with the tools to facilitate digital learning. Parents who want their youngsters to embrace technology as part of their education may want to consider the following devices.

• Internet-ready devices: Internet-ready devices include desktop computers, laptops, Chromebooks, tablets, and even smartphones. Assignments may require that students use the Internet, and many of today’s teachers create their own websites where they list assignments or post links to supplemental materials. Students may have to confer with teachers via email or share materials with classmates.

• Word-processing applications: Whether students are writing a 20-page term paper or have to type up a short summary for a homework assignment, eventually they will need access to word-processing software that includes basic typing, editing and desktop publishing functions. Many computer software bundles come with a word processor pre-installed. If not, software is available for purchase or parents can download free shareware. Examples of word-processing software include Microsoft Word, Wordperfect, TextMaker, Corel Write, and Google Docs.

• High-speed Internet: Households that have not yet upgraded to digital Internet services are well behind the times. Many cable and fiber optic television providers now offer television, Internet and phone bundles for reasonable fees. Compared to the dial-up services and initial coaxial Internet of yesteryear, today’s Internet speeds are light years ahead. Students who need to stream movies or other content or upload and download large picture or text files often find high-speed Internet invaluable.

• Digital planners: Many devices come with calendars and planner functions built in, and those that don’t can often be upgraded by simply downloading an app that performs such functions. A calendar is a handy tool for students who need to keep current on assignments and tests, extracurricular activities and other important dates to remember. Students may want to lean toward a calendar app that is integrated across many platforms. This way calendar events can be synched and viewed on phones, laptops and tablets.

• Phones: Smartphones are akin to mini computers capable of more functions than one can imagine. Kids can use their phones to get a head start on homework assignments or to email teachers if they forget an assignment at school. In addition, students who have their own smartphones can easily contact their parents in case of emergencies, and parents can rest easy knowing their kids are always just a phone call or text message away.

Depending on the courses they take, students may need additional gadgets, such as graphing calculators, scanners and printers. Parents can speak their kids’ teachers to determine which devices will support lessons students are learning in the classroom.

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