Q. Our oldest daughter is starting middle school this year. I am worried about her carrying such a heavy backpack and wondering whether this will cause back problems. Do you have any advice?
Heavy backpacks are a common problem these days. Although rolling backpacks seem like a possible solution, many schools do not allow them. There are a few simple suggestions, however, that may maximize backpack safety:
Children should not carry backpacks that exceed 10 to 15 percent of their body weight;
Backpacks should have wide, padded shoulder straps;
Shoulder straps should be tightened so that the backpack fits snugly to the body;
Backpacks should always be worn with both shoulder straps;
The heaviest items, such as textbooks, should be placed closest to the body;
Students should visit their lockers when possible to change out books instead of carrying an entire day’s load;
Unnecessary items in the backpack, such as laptops and phones, should be avoided.
Parents can serve as advocates for backpack safety by encouraging the school to provide students adequate time between classes to visit their lockers and to take advantage of online assignments.