According to experts, the maximum weight a child should carry is one tenth (10{856c769216780322a53c89c8bb5b69b0fb966347d187725288a79e54db546023}) of their body weight.

One of the reasons children dread going to school is their heavy schoolbags which they have to carry on their delicate shoulders. These heavy-bags cause severe discomfort for a child and also cause back and posture problems. Children lose interest in coming to school with the stress of carrying heavy bags. Their mind is burdened with the weight of the books and this leads to low attention span.

So what should be the ideal weight of schoolbags?

The maximum weight a child should carry according to some scientists is one tenth (10{856c769216780322a53c89c8bb5b69b0fb966347d187725288a79e54db546023}) of their body weight including all things like their water bottle, lunchbox, etc. But the reality is quite different.

What happens when the weight exceeds the said limit?

Carrying very heavy backpacks can lead to musculo-skeletal problems, especially if children carry the bag on one shoulder. It puts extra pressure on one side, tilting the spine. Also that keeping the bag down and then carrying it again is more dangerous for a growing spine than continuously walking with static weight.

To carry a heavy bag, the child has to lean forward. This leads to developing a bad posture. The spine is a stack of bones called the vertebral column with the bones separated by a cartilage called the inter vertebral disk and held upright by the muscles and ligaments around it. The excess weight puts undue stress on the muscles, ligaments and disk thus damaging them. The alignment of the column is also disturbed causing it to bend, mostly forward or sideways.

In other words, a heavy bag puts the child’s health and physical development at risk which can hamper his/her overall growth.

Children’s skeletons are still developing, and having a heavy bag slung over one shoulder can exert unnatural force on the spine, muscles and attachments.

What immediate and long-term harms can it cause on the child’s health?

Immediate ill-effects:

  • Back, neck and shoulder pain along with tingling, numbness and weakness in the hands.
  • Fatigue and an early development of poor posture.

Long term ill-effects:

  • Strain on the neck and shoulder leading to headaches.
  • Damage to the spine giving rise to problems like kyphosis – hunched back or spine bent forward.
  • Scoliosis – spine bent sideways.
  • Reduced breathing capacity due to pressure on the lungs resulting from a forward or sideways bent posture.
  • Back pains and muscle spasms as young adults which can be traced back to heavy schoolbags.

Every bone has a growth centre or points from which growth of the bone takes place as per the age. Carrying excess weight could damage these growth centres leading to stunted or abnormal growth of the bones of the child.

Here are some useful suggestions:

  • A backpack is usually more comfortable than a bag that puts strain on only one shoulder, but even a backpack shouldn’t be overloaded.
  • When buying a bag, buy a sturdy, well-designed bag with wide, padded shoulder straps that reduces pressure on the neck and shoulder area. Buy a bag with adjustable straps which can be altered as the child grows.
  • Check your child’s posture after he has put the bag on. If you notice your child leaning forward or slouching, check if the bag is too heavy or if it has been packed incorrectly.
  • Make sure your child is only carrying the items they need for school that day – remove any unnecessary books and equipment.

Other tips to reduce weight:

  • School authorities should make it mandatory for students to carry light bags.
  • There should be lockers where students can keep their books and other things which are only needed in the classroom.
  • Schools can allow students to carry one big notebook with sections for all subjects instead of different ones for various subjects.

These are a few possible solutions that teachers and parents can implement in order to reduce the weight of their kids’ schoolbags. It is important that they understand the gravity of this situation before it is too late.

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