RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Thousands of students are coming back to class across the area and many will have already gotten a head start on school supplies. 

The thrill of back-to-school shopping can trigger a rush of nostalgia when thinking back on the good old days, but back to school shopping has become more high-tech in recent years. 

Parents aren’t just looking for colored pencils and lined paper anymore. The pandemic has ushered in a new virtual reality for students — with online classes and assignments on the web. 

So, when looking at computers, its important to shop wisely. 

“Cheapest is, often times, not best,” said USA TODAY Tech expert Jennifer Jolly. 

Jolly says you should start looking into computers for your kids when they’re around 10 years old. She recommends at least four to eight gigabytes (GB) of ram with the latest software. You should also aim for roughly the $300 to $600 range. 

Any device under $100 or less, unless it’s a special deal like the trade in deal is not going to last the holidays, let alone through the year,” said Jolly. 

Not all headphones are created equal. There are great headphones safe for young years. As for high schoolers – if you consider over the ears for noise cancellation, Jolly says you should likely expect to spend around 100 dollars on a good quality set. 

So, if parents are thinking about computers and headphones, they’ve likely already thought about phones too. Jolly said there are a variety of phones with various capabilities for kids as young as 4. The important thing is — is your child ready?  

“Can they take responsibility for the device at school or at home? How are they developing their offline worlds? But you really want to think of it like training wheels, just like you do with swimming or riding a bike. It’s one thing at a time and you need to be involved,” she said. 

And whether kids are using pencils, stencils, notebooks or macbooks, parental involvement is always paramount. 

Also, don’t forget to research security software to monitor your child’s screen time and block inappropriate websites.