Sack Our Packs to Save Our Backs: Students opinions on heavy backpacks


Lena Brockway

Freshman Sofia Ortiz walking to one of her classes with her Chromebook and her other books.

At Riverside Brookfield High School, students use backpacks to carry school supplies and materials from class to class. Students have raised a concern, though, that backpacks are too heavy, and that they are causing health problems, specifically in their backs. “It puts a lot of stress on the shoulders. It makes my posture hunchback,” says sophomore Ev Hervas.

Paper products are the main contributor. Most students carry papers, binders, notebooks, folders, and books in their backpacks. These account for a large portion of the weight, but many students believe they aren’t needed. “All the unnecessary papers and notebooks make my backpack really heavy,” says sophomore Ani Caballero. “We don’t get many papers in classes, so we don’t need folders.”

Another contributor to the weight is Chromebooks. Every student at RB is required to have one, and many believe they are much better than paper. The paper products and Chromebooks combined add a lot of extra weight to backpacks, so some students believe that only Chromebooks should be used.

“My Chromebook isn’t what is heavy; it’s all my other books,” says freshman Taylor Ferrera. “I’d rather use my chromebook because it’s just easier and I do not have to carry around my binders.”

Each student uses Chromebooks differently depending on their classes and teachers. Some teachers solely utilize Chromebooks or paper, and some use a mixture of both. One teacher who uses both is Samuel Styler. “Day by day I probably use pen and paper more, but I think the Chromebook is an awesome tool that we get to have at RB,” Styler said.

Other teachers, like John Beasley, primarily use paper, mostly for academic reasons. “Almost everything in econ involves a graph and there is no substitute for the muscle memory of drawing a graph,” says Beasley. “There’s data that shows that you have to be almost subconscious when you draw the graph, it can’t be something you’re thinking about.”

Sometimes, it depends on the grade of the students. “I mostly have my freshmen take notes on paper, but we do a lot of activities on the Chromebooks. Then when we get to the upperclassmen they’re gonna be using their Chromebooks more when they’re in college, so I let them take notes on that,” said Styler.

Tips for a more comfortable backpack include getting a bag with many pockets for even distribution to balance out the weight. A backpack with adjustable straps and padding makes a big difference in supporting your back and shoulders. Try to keep unnecessary items out of your backpack and keep everything in there organized.