Every year, millions of young children develop back problems due to the ghastly weight of their backpacks. Millions of trees are cut down just to make workbooks and textbooks for schools. While students continue to have back pains at early ages, the technological revolution has developed compact, light, laptops; some weighing as little as two pounds. Will we continue to place strain on the growing backs of students? Or should we consider replacing the heavy textbooks and notebooks with laptops?
Although laptops are still quite expensive, ranging from 250-700 dollars each, the price of a single laptop compared to the cost of multiple textbooks is significantly less on the school district’s wallet. Textbooks usually cost around a hundred dollars or more, yet the information gets outdated quickly and schools have to dig out more cash to purchase up-to-date textbooks. With laptops, textbook publishers and teachers would be able to edit and update the information more easily on electronic copies of text. Teachers would be able to select certain pages of workbooks to use online, instead of buying whole workbooks that we only use half of.
Not only would this be easier on the school’s budget, but also on the environment. Over fifty million trees are chopped down each year to make textbooks in the United States alone. Four billion trees worldwide are chopped down yearly for paper, notebooks, workbooks, you name it.
The heavy, lagging weight of a backpack often causes long-term health issues and back pain for students. Asides from notebooks and binders, students also have to carry pencils, pens, and spare paper. And let’s not forget that many students bring lunch from home. The weight all adds up. The average high school student’s backpack weights between ten and twenty-five pounds, while the average laptop weights between three and eight pounds. A study conducted by Brandon Macias of UCSD’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery concluded that students often carry backpack loads of twenty-two percent of their body weight when it is only recommended to carry fifteen at most. Occupational and environmental health expert Kevin Slates says that “A load of books or materials distributed improperly or unevenly, day after day, is indeed going to cause stress to a growing spinal column and back.”
Furthermore, having a single laptop is far more convenient compared to having multiple notebooks and binders. If students do all their homework assignments on the laptop, then there will be no more “I forgot it at home” excuses, unless they forget to bring their laptop-and why would they forget to bring it if it was one of the only things they’d need to bring? It is also easier and faster to search up knowledge on laptops than in textbooks. On laptops, you can highlight and annotate important textual knowledge, while with textbooks you can’t write anything in them.
The school district of Huntsville, Alabama has recently implemented laptops and iPads into their teaching. They installed a multitude of security measures to protect the laptops from malware and a filter so students will not be able to peruse Facebook or play Minecraft during school hours. To prevent laptops from being stolen, they installed computrace to trace the laptops in case of theft. Students paid a usage fee of thirty-five dollars which is less than ten-percent of the full price for a laptop. At the end of the school year, only two computers were lost and none were stolen.
Switching from textbooks and notebooks to laptops will lessen the loads on our backs and has many other benefits. But can they rise to the occasion? If students truly want to replace textbooks and notebooks with laptops, they will have to show responsibility.