This is something we should talk about, especially for students. I remember teaching a high school course, and I was alarmed by the size of backpacks the students wore. One of my students walked into class one day with a backpack as big as he did.
Luckily enough, there was a scale in the class, so I was able to weigh the backpack. Astonishingly, it weighed close to 30 pounds. This student of mine weighed around 95 pounds. So the backpack was more than 30% of his total body weight.
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The amazing part of it was that he carried the bag all day, bent over like a crooked bar. This occurrence is widespread among teenagers. In fact, I have come across a number of teenagers with neck and back pain caused by a weighty backpack.
So how do we identify the problem? Well, for a while, I have cited massive textbooks and workload as the main issue. But as we move towards the computer age, they’ve become less of a problem.
In a bid to identify the problem, I asked some of my students to empty their backpacks. What I saw inside the bag left me surprised. The majority of the students had food (lots of full meals mixed with snacks), extra clothes, phones, accessories, gym clothes, and other personal items.
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I decided to go deeper into the rabbit hole, and I found out that kids rather use their backpacks than use their lockers. In a small survey involving 12 students, I found out that only 16 percent used their locker.
As it turns out, using lockers is not cool. According to some of the students, gone are those days when kids would decorate their lockers with a personal touch to represent their space. Apparently, backpacks are the new cool item, lockers are a thing of the past.
So what’s their reason for the switch? Many insist schools are massive now compared to previous times. So it is difficult to move around classes and still have time to visit the locker. So it is better to have everything you need close to you than to have to walk quite a distance. There is also the small issue of getting late for class because you had to pay a visit to your locker and back. So it is easier to have everything in your bag and readily accessible when you need it.
While their argument is ideal, it doesn’t take away from the fact that heavy backpacks can be harmful to the neck, shoulder, and back. My advice to students is they should pack better and make adequate plans for their contents.