Naveed Mohammed checks out a new Dell laptop with his father Shameed Mohammed, assisted by The Wizz Computers store technician Kevin Victory at the store’s Pennywise Plaza, Chaguanas branch yesterday.

Electronic stores across the country are currently running low on computer stocks, as many parents are still rushing to purchase laptops and other electronic devices for their children to access online learning this term.

Guardian Media visited several stores yesterday where lines of people, including parents and their children, were seen outside awaiting their turn to enter.

Kevin Victory, a technician at The Wizz Computers, told Guardian Media the last three weeks have been hectic at the various outlets.

“Laptops are selling like hot bread right now and we are almost out of all the laptops we have here,” Victory said.

“We have a shipment coming in with about 1,000 laptops by about next week,” he added.

Parent Shameed Mohammed said he spent several days going to various stores to find a laptop for his son Naveed with little luck.

“I have been checking all over and is like every store sold out,” Mohammed said.

“This morning I called like 15 to 20 places, nobody has stock. But some expecting stock by Friday or next week and you have no choice but to go around.”

Over the last few weeks, The Wizz technician Victory said many parents have been coming to their stores and were overwhelmed by the variety of brands and specifications to choose from.

However, according to Jonathan Mahabir, a lecturer at the Computer Forensics and Security Institute, buying a laptop for a child is actually quite simple. He advised parents not to get lost in the technical jargon.

Mahabir noted, “They don’t need anything more than the basics right now and that is really just to do Zoom meetings and tabs for their research, so that does not need a big, powerful system.”

Mahabir said the specifications could be a “basic 4core system, either Intel or AMD, and at least eight gigabytes of ram.” This type of system, he indicated, could cost anything between TT$2,700 to $3,400.

Minister of Finance Colm Imbert last week announced that all taxes on laptops, computers, notebook computers and tablet computers have been removed. However, prices on these items have not yet fallen since the legal notice to have the taxes removed was only finalised yesterday by the Finance Ministry.

Apart from laptops, Guardian Media was told there has also been a rush for webcams and desktop repairs.

Meanwhile, learning from home does not prevent children fr

om being bullied and led astray.

Daren Dhoray, a digital anthropologist at CyberSafeTT, warned that the web can be a dark place and advised parents to take the necessary precautions to ensure their children’s safety in the digital world.

“There are tools like routers and so on that you can enable parental controls which would sort of block certain sites but all of that is quickly negated when you have a data plan on your phone and it is not being monitored by the home network,” Dhoray told Guardian Media.

He also advised parents to install anti-virus and anti-malware software and monitor the webcams on their children’s computers.

Apart from laptops, Guardian Media was told there has also been a rush for webcams and desktop repairs.