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Dh600 backpack, flavoured water: Pricey school supplies trend among UAE kids; parents express concern

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Parents in the UAE are expressing concerns over trendy and expensive school accessories that their children frequently demand.

These items may include stylish lunch boxes, unique water bottles, jerseys, backpacks, and accessory holders.

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They stressed trends among school children change rapidly and investing in expensive items that are currently popular may result in them quickly becoming outdated or less desirable.

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Khaleej Times reached out to a cross-section of parents who listed some such items that are trending among their children.

Flavour-infused water bottles

Arijit Nandi, the father of a seven-year-old, said, “Flavour-infused water bottles are in and have become popular as an alternative to plain water. My son was asking for a flavoured water bottle that he had seen many of his friends bring to school. Although it allows you to flavour your water, only by scent…I acknowledge that times have evolved. However, my question remains…what benefits do these indulgences bring to your life as a student?”

Parents highlighted indulging in expensive items without considering their necessity may send a wrong message to children about priorities and values. “We have to teach the importance of responsible spending and mindful consumption, especially in a place like Dubai where there are many attractions.”

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Nandi added, “My son keeps asking for carbonated beverages and we keep refusing the same, saying that fizzy drinks are unhealthy. So, this is the alternative that he has found. He says he can experience delicious taste without guilt.”

Different flavour pods like orange, peach, lemon, grape, or cola options are available in stores. “These bottles have fruit scent pods. The pods itself cost around Dh90 for a set of seven pieces online. The original Air Up bottle is around Dh200 depending on its size, while other brands are at least Dh120. I feel it’s important to assess whether the cost is justified when buying your children such school items.”

Football jerseys with player numbers

Parents highlighted focusing on material possessions may distract children from the primary purpose of school which is learning and personal development.

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“Another item for which I see a huge craze is football jerseys with players’ numbers. These are sought-after items among children and teenagers. Even when my son goes to play in the neighbourhood park every evening, he insists on wearing a jersey of some of the players he idolizes. Needless to say, these jerseys are quite expensive even if you are buying a fake one and not the ones from the official team stores,” added British expat Chris Allen.

Parents pointed out that the desire for expensive items in and outside of school can sometimes stem from peer pressure. Children feel compelled to fit in or be accepted by their peers, often leading to unnecessary spending.

American expat Natalia Miranda, whose son goes to a British curriculum school in Dubai said, “My son is seven and he hasn’t started asking for anything so far or at least he is not persistent. But a trend that I have noticed among school children is the Bentgo-style lunch boxes which cost over Dh160. It’s a stylish lunch box though, is BPA free, and claims to be leak resistant. There are a few things that are worth investing in and then there are a few which are not worth buying. That is a call that parents have to make.”

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She added, “But I feel children who consistently receive expensive items may develop a sense of entitlement or dissatisfaction if they don’t get what they want.”

Smart backpacks with USB ports

Majority parents reiterated emphasizing the importance of education over material possessions is crucial.

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Neha Bhagwat, who has two boys going to an IB-curriculum school said, “My younger son who is eight years old was asking for the ‘Kids pop out pencil box’ with window, which is a multi-function pencil case and also has a calculator. You just have to press a button and different compartments pop out. It is available at various stores across different malls. Those alone cost more than Dh90 (depending on the brand).”

“Similarly, my older son who is 11, wanted me to buy him a charging backpack that has a built-in charger that can help charge school devices if it’s kept inside this bag. The starting price is Dh200, with variations based on the brand determining the cost. Some of his classmates have it. I refused to buy both the items for my sons.”

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