Laptops, Chromebooks, now on school supply lists

Students are now seeing devices like Chromebooks or laptops on their school supply list.

Parents feel pressure to buy for children in elementary and junior high

Joshua Chamberlain explains how a Chromebook differs from a regular laptop 1:48

Back to school shopping for elementary school and junior high students now includes a stop at the local computer store.

Students are now seeing devices like Chromebooks or laptops on their school supply list.

Jeremy Fritsche from Edmonton Public Schools says the devices allow them access to Google programs like Google Docs and Gmail which are now used in the classroom.

Yoanis Gonzalez shops for computer supplies with her daughter Carmela. (CBC)

“They can do the collaborations that happen in our schools with other students and with the teachers,” said Fritsche.

Students are encouraged to bring in their own devices, but if they can’t, Fritsche says the school will provide one.

“Schools have Chromebooks or netbooks on site and can provide those to students,” he said.

Many parents who decide to buy a device for their kids are opting for lower-priced Chromebooks. Unlike conventional laptops, Chromebooks don’t store their information in the drive of the computer.

Instead, everything is stored in a remote server or “cloud” which can be accessed whenever the device is hooked up to the internet.

Chromebooks may be less expensive than conventional laptops, but computer salesman Joshua Chamberlain says some parents still find the expense hard to justify.

"Some people are still kind of shy about the fact that they're buying a $350 piece of technology for their kid that's going to elementary school or junior high,” he said.

The expectation can also put pressure on parents. Yoanis Gonzalez has a daughter going into Grade 6.

Even if the school has computers, children may not want to use them because it makes them stand out.

"They always going to resent that and say 'well, but these kids, already they have this and this and that,'” Gonzalez said. "At the end of the day, it's going to be stressful for everybody."