Grace Pamer, the love letters lady behind Romantic Frugal Mom, is joining us today for a fantastic guest post. We are so thrilled she is sharing her thoughts on the topical debate of whether kids can damage their backs with heavy backpacks.
Should backpacks be banned?
Although some schools have banned backpacks due to safety concerns, most have not. These cumbersome yet convenient packs cause innumerable injuries and may even be responsible for chronic back and neck pain in youth.
There’s truth in the numbers
It may be hard to believe, but approximately 10,000 doctor and emergency room visits each year are backpack related. Aside from the weight issues and back problems, backpacks are to blame for numerous accidents as kids trip over them, are knocked down by other kids’ heavy packs and even fall down stairs due to losing their balance from carrying overly heavy backpacks.
In addition to all the above accidents, students can injure their backs causing chronic neck and back pain if their backpacks are too heavy. How heavy is too heavy? The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that backpacks should weigh no more than 10 to 20 percent of a student’s body weight, but many health professionals believe this is pushing the limits and recommend 15 percent of body weight as the upper limit.
By Eden Pictures
Fashion as ever plays a big part
Backpack fashions and trends vary widely by school, as kids are especially sensitive to fitting in with the crowd. In some schools, it’s almost as if there is a contest going on to see who can carry the heaviest backpack, while in others, it is simply not cool to even have a backpack.
As a parent, you may find it difficult to overcome these trends and enforce reasonable backpack rules, so be aware of what other kids are doing. Heavy packs slung over one shoulder are the most damaging for kids’ backs. If nothing else, insist that kids use both straps to evenly distribute the weight.
Buy them backpacks that are designed specifically to evenly distribute the weight and show them exactly how the backpack should be worn. Wheeled backpacks are an option for kids who go to schools that allow them, but they pose their own set of hazards, as tripping over them is much more common.
Educate to alleviate
Helping younger children load their packs shows them that putting the heaviest books close to their backs makes it easier to carry and helps keep the child in balance. This is also a good time to sort through the contents of the bag. You might be amazed at what is lurking in there! Everything from month-old food to important “lost” assignments are commonly found at the bottom of backpacks.
Kids can definitely damage their backs with overly heavy backpacks, so help them while they are young to get into good backpack habits. We all know how difficult it can be to get kids to follow a parent’s advice, so this is a good instance where having your family doctor discuss the problems that heavy backpacks cause can really help. Do your kids really want to risk being unable to play their favorite sports if their backs are too painful to play? This actually happens. When discussing backpacks, as with all other issues, be calm, supportive and honest with your kids, they will be much more likely to listen.
What do you think?
About the author:
Grace Pamer is a mother of 3 and widely known as the love letters lady. She runs a popular section called love letters for her on her blog.