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When I was a kid -- and it was a long time ago, trust me -- September was a time to purchase notebooks, pens, pencils, and organizers in preparation for the return to school. That was back when we all walked uphill, both ways, in knee-deep snow, just to get to class. But over the years, those traditional items have been giving way to laptops, USB drives, Palm Pilots, and cell phones.
It's not just college kids, either. More frequently, the trend is filtering down to grade school. Even my 10-year-old insists that he needs a cell phone. Do you want to know why? "'Cause everyone has them, and my backpack had a pocket for one."
Having elementary-aged schoolchildren geared up with all of these gadgets raises some interesting questions. But since we analyze markets, I'll leave the benefits and pitfalls to the sociologists. What I'm interested in today is which companies will benefit from the growing trend of must-have back-to-school electronics.
Now, I'm not a fan of sending my youngsters back to school with backpacks full of wires and batteries, yet I fill those packs up anyway with the latest electronic technology, including Apple
Obviously, companies that offer unique gadgets to help make school life easier for students will benefit around this time of year. And many retailers have gotten pretty savvy with their marketing techniques. For example, Staples
I know my kid would probably lose his head if it weren't attached to his shoulders, so who knows how long a Palm Pilot might last him. Still, I guess times are changing, and I'll admit that the technology is helping our kids learn at a faster rate. Just look at what LeapFrog
There is indeed a lot of technology out there revolutionizing the way students learn. And the newest products out there are constantly changing. So investors need to keep a close eye on what the kids are stuffing into their backpacks, and which retailers are offering the most attractive incentives.
Fool contributor Larry Rothman is happy to receive feedback, and he promises to read it when he's not being wrestled by his three children. He doesn't have any positions in the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.