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6 things to know before buying a computer for your school kid.

Lenovo
Thanks to our brand partner, Lenovo

“Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems."  

It’s a cliché, but it’s one you truly understand as your kids reach school age – and it carries through the next 12 to 13 years of their educational experience (and beyond, I imagine). 

The saying rings true for technology too. While your toddler or pre-schooler might have been content with the old devices you had stashed in a drawer to watch YouTube, once school hits, they’re going to need something with a bit more “oomph” to help them reach their full potential. 

But like all of your big kid’s other big problems, the range of computers available today is… big. Overwhelmingly so. It’s also a big investment, so you’ll want to have some information before you make any decisions. 

With three school-aged kids myself, and plenty of (sometimes regrettable) tech purchases under my belt, here are the things I wish I’d known before handing over my debit card.

The support every parent needs to know about.

“I wish there was a tool that could help me make this decision”, I (probably) said as I stared at a sea of screens (13 inch? 15 inch? How are they measured? And why are we using the imperial system?), and lists of RAM and Gigabytes and other jargon I didn’t really understand. 

Every parent needs to know the free resources from smart technology brand Lenovo – importantly, that LenovoEDU Parents Store is a thing. A very useful thing. Let me explain.

The LenovoEDU Parents Store is a free portal for parents, and just one of the perks from signing up free for the LenovoEDU Community. I feel like more of us school parents need to know about this Store, as it means we have access to the same education store pricing that students when buying on PCs (up to a handsome 35 per cent off RRP, all year round). Even better is Lenovo runs sales regularly which are on top of the evergreen student discount.

While that financial perk is awesome, there's also the LenovoEDU Community itself. It's not just an online hub for all things education, but where you can connect with other parents and experts for advice and support throughout the often-tricky school years. It's an invaluable resource. 

Work smarter, not harder.

Yes, this is wise advice to employ in all areas of your personal and professional life. And especially in parenthood.

But did you know it can (very crucially) apply to computers too? The last PC I bought was a shell, onto which I had to install (and buy) everything. Now, I am not a computing expert, and this took up literally hours of my time and resulted in a lot of frustration. And confusion.

If I had my time over, I’d look for a PC that has the hard work done already. Many of Lenovo’s laptops come with Windows 11 pre-installed – meaning it arrives on your doorstep with the latest updates and ready to go.

No stress, no fuss – the best-case scenario when you’re combining kids and new tech. (Keep an eye out for Smart Learning-enabled laptops too, with features to help improve comfort while studying).

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The bonus of working smarter, not harder? Your kids won’t know that you don’t actually know what you’re doing. 

Image: Supplied.

Understanding the jargon.

As I mentioned, while I’m relatively tech-savvy as a millennial parent, I’m not from a computing field and the jargon is – or was – basically Greek to me. I see any mention of RAM, GB, processors... and my brain just checks out. It’s like when the menu at a fancy restaurant is in another language and I'm out of my depth. Sorry, someone else order for the table, please.

As it turns out, it isn’t actually that difficult. All you need is a basic phrase book to help you choose the PC with the most bang for your buck. Parents, here are a few you’ll come across in your search:

  • Processor: A processor (or CPU) provides the instructions and processing power a computer needs to do its work. The more powerful and updated your processor, the faster your computer can complete its tasks (so, a gaming computer will need a more powerful processor than, say, a basic web browsing PC). 

  • RAM: RAM stands for Random Access Memory, and acts as short-term memory for the data your computer is currently working on. A bit like a workbench, the more RAM, the more data it can hold. 

Both RAM and processors are important to the overall performance of a computer. If RAM is your workbench, the processor is like having an extra person to help get the work done. 

Intel sets the industry standard for processor innovation and performance in all applications, so look for Intel® Core™ processors in the specifications when you’re shopping. 

Remember you’re not buying for yourself.

This is a hard one for me because I know what I like and what I want from a computer, and it’s difficult to step away from that. But the bottom line is, my needs as an adult are a lot different to what my kids need. 

And by the same principle, what my 8-year-old third grader child needs is different to what my 13-year-old eighth grader needs. So, for each child and each device, figure out what they’ll be using it for and make a list of must-haves and then nice-to-haves to narrow down the search. 

If your child is a more tactile learner, for example, you might like to explore something with a touchscreen, like the IdeaPad Flex 5 14" laptop with fast 11th Gen Intel® Core™ processors and optional digital pen. 

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IdeaPad Flex 5 14" - 11th Gen Intel. Image: Lenovo.

Set your budget before you shop.

This one seems really obvious, but it’s easy to find yourself in over your head and walking away with a dozen very expensive upgrades you don’t really need. 

Again, this is where your list of must-haves comes in. Address these first, and if you come in under budget, then you can see about the nice-to-haves. 

Fortunately, Lenovo’s free Parents Buying Guide simplifies things with its ‘Save vs Splurge’ list for both primary and secondary students. Very helpful with its advice to get the most out of your budget.

For example, the IdeaPad Flex 3i 11" Chromebook with Intel® Celeron® processor is a simple, stylish machine for school and general use – ideal for home learning in primary school. 

IdeaPad Flex 3i Chromebook 11" - Intel Celeron. Image: Lenovo.

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If you’re after something a bit more multipurpose, perhaps you have a high school student (or parent!) who’s into gaming, the Legion 5i 15" laptop is powered by up to 10th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 processors, with optional NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ graphics. Basically, ready for games to come to life on screen!

Legion 5i 15" - 10th Gen Intel. Image: Lenovo.

Make your computer work for you and your child.

If you buy a new PC or laptop and don’t bother getting 'round to really learning what it can do, you’re selling yourself short. This is, again, where the LenovoEDU Community shows its worth, with access to helpful articles and expert advice, as well as the forums where you can ask any questions you might have. 

The advice isn’t limited to computers either: I read an excellent article on how to build an after-school schedule, which I’m hoping will make our hectic afternoons less stressful... for all of us. 

Enjoy all the perks of the free LenovoEDU Community for Parents: shop the LenovoEDU Parents Store, get advice from the Parents Buying Guide and connect with other parents in the forums & groups.

Find LenovoEDU articles and expert advice on all things education here.

Feature image: Supplied/Mamamia. 

Lenovo
Lenovo is all about Smarter Technology for All, and that's at the heart of all things Lenovo and Education. That's where LenovoEDU comes in. Work smarter, not harder, with LenovoEDU: your all-in-one education hub with resources to help take studying to the next level. The LenovoEDU store offers students and parents great deals on Lenovo PCs all year round, while the LenovoEDU Community is a hub for expert content, forums to connect with peers, and offers from our partners, all to help you get further in your studies, faster. Shop the Parents Store.