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Do backpacks break your back?

In order to function in a school environment students are required to carry around backpacks crammed with books, computers, and other school supplies. However, carrying around too much weight can have a negative impact on students well-being. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a child’s backpack should weigh no more than 10 to 20 percent of a child’s weight. Consumer Reports recommends keeping the weight closer to 10 percent of a child’s weight. To my surprise I found that my backpack, which contains all my supplies for class on a normal day, weighed a whopping 26 pounds (around 22% of my weight). While for many this may not seem like a lot of weight carrying something that weighs a tenth to a twentieth of what you weigh, for at least an hour a day, one hundred and eighty days a year can have a negative effect on students’ health.

According to a 2010 study from the University of California, San Diego, “backpack loads are responsible for a significant amount of back pain in children.” The same study says a full third of kids aged 11 to 14 report back pain. This pain gets worsens when students enter high school and take more classes and are required to take more work home as a result, this pain can negatively affect student’s posture, attention, and overall wellness. When asked about having back pain, Sophomore Sarah Jacobs replied, “Most definitely yes, I get a lot of pain around my soldiers and back which leads to me, as my mom says, walking like a monkey.” Since students bodies are still growing carrying around a heavy backpack at a young age can lead to permanent issues with posture and stunted growth because the weight of a backpack on a student back can compress their spine leading to stunted growth and further issues with back pain later in life. Along with leading to potentially permanent health issues lugging around a heavy backpack also leads to issues with concentration and focus due to the pain it can cause.

While lockers may be the solution to this problem, many students don’t use theirs. Jacobs explains why; “I never put anything in my locker it is pretty useless because we have no time between classes to get our textbooks. So, I tend to just carry mine around, as well as my binders, computer, and other school supplies.” However, there are ways to prevent these issues, and BHS’s implementation of Chromebooks is one of them. By having a majority of homework assignments online students have less work they need to carry. Along with giving students the option to use digital textbooks (available in many classes including AP U.S. History) instead of physical ones they have would have to carry. So, next time you notice that your back aches or you don’t wanna lug it around, just know that it may be emblematic of a bigger, nationwide issue.


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