Teenager’s technology: Life-proofing hacks to save money

If you have a child in high school, you will have noticed that an odd change has occurred in the world of technology. Where tech – laptops, tablets, phones and the like – was once considered a nice-to-have, it is now an essential tool for learning in the classroom.

Which means that parents are forced to spend a good chunk of cash at the beginning of the school year on technology that we then put straight into the hands of fairly unreliable teenagers. “This cost a lot of money so take care of it,” we warn. “Of course, Mum,” they say. And then we watch as they oh-so carefully drop the brand new machine straight into their school bag – the same school bag that may or may not contain a half-eaten apple (or worse).

Need vs want

The truth is that when it comes to tech, as parents we are over a barrel here. We want our kids to have the best we can afford – we don’t want our kids to be the ones missing out. But too often, teenagers simply don’t know how to look after their possessions properly, and when they’re carting items that are worth hundreds of dollars around each day, it’s no surprise that there are casualties. And then, once again, we have to step in and pay for replacement or repair so they are properly prepared for the school day.

So how can you minimise the cost and stress of teen tech ownership?

1. The smartphone

While laptops and tablets may be the bigger ticket items, it’s your teen’s phone that is the mostly likely candidate for repeated repair. Teenagers seem to clutch their phones 24/7 so they are dropped repeatedly – on the road, in the sand, down the toilet – and generally pretty badly treated. And when you’ve had to get the cracked screen repeatedly replaced, or have left the phone to dry out overnight in a container of rice one too many times, you may wonder WHY mobile phones aren’t made to be just a little bit more robust.

And it seems that mobile phone makers may have been thinking the same thing – Alcatel have just launched the ‘life-proof’ Go Play smartphone. Designed specifically with teens in mind, it is waterproof (in fact, it is designed to take pretty snappy underwater photos and videos), dust-proof and shock-proof, and, after asking a busy teen to  put it through its paces for a week, it really does seem able to cope with anything the daily rough-and-tumble of teen life can throw at it.

If a new smartphone is out of the question though, there are some really good shockproof cases that can be bought. They will make the phone heavier and bulkier but they will keep the phone much safer.

2. The laptop

Because laptops are usually stowed in a school bag as they are taken to school and back each day, the smart money for keeping them safe is to spend a little extra on a really good case. Sure, you could buy a shockproof laptop but these babies are super-expensive and more than your teen would ever really need.

So look for a good quality shockproof case that snugly fits the laptop you have. And check the weight of the case before you buy it. Your teen will be reluctant to use it if the case weighs more than the laptop!

3. The tablet

Taking a tablet to school and back each day is definitely easier than a heavier laptop – but being smaller, they are easier to lose track of in a pile of notebooks and textbooks. To protect your teen’s tablet, consider buying a silicon case for the device. These provide good screen protection if it’s dropped. It’s also essential that the case has a cover for the screen to protect it against scratching.   And consider a tempered glass screen protector too – these a scratch-resistant and will protect the screen against shattering if the tablet is dropped.