From primary to college, kids are grabbing up electronics

The digital lifestyle has fully taken hold, as falling prices and digital curricula make flash drives, iPods, camphones, webcams and more an essential part of the back to school ritual.

It's Christmas in August for retailers who sell school back-to-school gadgets and gizmos. This year they are making the most of the digital craze, especially with a drop in prices making many digital essentials more affordable, reports The New York Times.

"Tech-based products are so much less expensive that the price point now allows kids to nag their parents to buy a particular product or buy one themselves," said Peter Grunwald, president of Grunwald Associates, a consulting firm in Bethesda, Md., focusing on school technology.

Along with the price drop, the market for digital products is getting younger. Tweens are wanting and getting cellphones. And parents are buying them for security reasons. They are also buying laptops and flash drives to store homework.

"With the volume of files that students work on, including video and images, it would be helpful if they all had a mass storage device to transport files between home and school," said Catherine Poling, the assistant principal at Kemptown Elementary School, near Frederick, Md.

Cellphone cameras are big among the high school set. Some cameras come with Wi-Fi capability for a quick download to share with friends—just in case you don't have a laptop handy.

Speaking of laptops—they are now an essential tool for college students. Laptops come with more bells and whistles, like the Gateway CX210X convertible notebook which comes with a stylus which can be used like a pen. The new Apple MacBooks have a built-in iSight camera for video chats over the Internet.

"You can't go to college without a computer, and anymore that means a laptop," said Ms. Gooch, the Best Buy manager.

For those students who are going off to parts unknown, maybe a GPS is in order. A college student can get one mounted on the dashboard, or get a hand-held one for toting around campus. Earthcomber offers free, downloadable maps and directories on the Internet, along with location-based information such as Wi-Fi hot spots, restaurants, live music and more.

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