How many times have you seen children (sometimes very young ones) struggling down the road towards the school bus carrying what looks to be a ridiculously heavy load in their backpacks? Backpacks for kids are getting bigger all the time and that is because they need to be able to accommodate the ever-increasing amount of “stuff” kids have to take to school.
Backpacks for Kids – How Heavy is Too Heavy?
According to the American Occupational Therapy Association backpacks for kids, when fully packed should never weigh more than 15% of the child’s body weight in order to be safe for use. To break that number down, for instance, a middle schooler who weighs 90 lbs should not be carrying around more than about 12 Lbs or so yet many of them do, between textbooks, notebooks, other school supplies and personal items. Carrying a bookbag that is too heavy is an issue that is concerning an increasing number of medical practitioners as well as parents since all are concerned about the possible effects of backpacks for kids that are too heavy on their health.
Health Concerns about Heavy Backpacks
A too heavy backpack worn over one shoulder might cause a child to lean more to one side than the other, causing his or her spine to begin to curve, resulting in back pain. This can be prevented though if the child is encouraged to wear the backpack properly at all times. Backpacks for kids should feature two shoulder straps and both should be used. Contact your school if you’re in doubt or need help or more advise.
The American Occupational Therapy Association is concerned about the straps on backpacks for kids as well though. Thinner backpack straps they say can apply undue amounts of pressure to the blood vessels and nerves in a child’s shoulder and neck. This pressure can cause pain and tingling in his arms, hands, legs, and neck. The AOT says this problem can be alleviated somewhat by purchasing backpacks for kids that have thicker, better-padded straps that exert less pressure.
Bulky backpacks for kids don’t just cause problems for the children wearing them though. Once it is on their back and out of sight, many children forget just how big that load is and how much space they actually need to maneuver without hitting someone else. That can mean injuries for other kids when boarding the school bus or negotiating a tight hallway. We care about our kids not speaking properly and do everything to prevent our children from having prejudices, but the real concern should be their over-all health.
Backpacks for Kids – Using them Safely
So what tips are out there for parents who want to make sure school backpacks for kids are not damaging their children’s health? First of all, when shopping for backpacks for kids choose one that has two, wide padded straps and has several different compartments so that weight can be more evenly distributed throughout the pack.
Once a good backpack has been located parents should encourage kids to lighten their daily load as much as possible. That could mean leaving more stuff in their locker on a daily basis or simply eliminating some of the extras they might be carrying around that they really don’t need for that particular day.