Are school backpacks too heavy for children?

Schools are looking for solutions to lighten the load carried by their students
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Did You Know?

5Kg - The average weight of school backpack for primary school pupil

7Kg - The average weight of school backpack for secondary school pupil (Average age 14)

  • More than half of children surveyed had a school backpack exceeded 10% of their bodyweight
  • A heavy weight carried in backpacks can distort the natural curves in the middle and lower backs, causing muscle strain and irritation to the spine joints and the rib cage
  • A heavy backpack can pull on the neck muscles, contributing to headache, shoulder pain, lower back pain, and/or neck and arm pain
  • More than 25% of pupils complained about back pain
  • Those children carrying the heaviest backpacks had a 50% higher risk of back pain 

Typically, the heaviest items in the children’s school backpacks are textbooks followed by photo-copied handouts and personal notes.

School pupils taking GCSE’s may be expected to carry around textbooks from six or more subjects as well as their own notes, coat, lunch and water bottle. This is when they are undertaking significant growth and bone development.

In this digital age why are we continuing to use heavy textbooks and why are we continuing to photocopy huge numbers of worksheets?

Schools that have adopted digital textbooks have benefited from removing the need for heavy paper textbooks altogether – significantly lightening their load. In addition, the schools have found that they can reduce and sometimes stop copying work sheets; instead they distribute and access them electronically saving on weight as well as on printing and copying costs (toner, paper, maintenance).

Sources

http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/Debates%20Authoring/DebatesWebPack.nsf/committeetakes/CYJ2017012500002?opendocument

https://www.nhs.uk/news/2012/03march/Pages/rucksack-bags-back-pain-children.aspx

http://www.iea.cc/ECEE/pdfs/art0212.pdf

https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/ergonomics/backpacks-and-back-pain-children

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