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Should Student's Textbooks and Notebooks Be Replaced With Laptops?

Should heavy textbooks and notebooks be replaced with laptops and tablets?

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 Textbooks usually cost around a hundred dollars or more, yet the information gets outdated quickly and schools have to dig out more cash to purchase up-to-date textbooks.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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Penny December 18, 2012 at 04:32 PM
I am in favor of replacing text books, with a laptop that would serve the same purposes, only school related..not to be used for emails, except between the student/parents and school. If there is such a device, I would be very supportive of using it in the schools. It would be nice to have it function during the total of the school years; certainly well worth the investment.
Karen L K December 19, 2012 at 05:34 AM
I agree that kids should not be carrying around heavy books on their backs. If it were me though I do not like reading and doing everything on a computer. I love my computer and stay on it to much but I still prefer to read off of paper. I guess my thoughts were maybe have a hybrid situation with some of each.
Lin Tan Hui December 20, 2012 at 03:51 AM
Can every student in States afford to have laptop?
Eric Muetterties December 29, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Why in the world textbooks cost $100 or more, I'll never know! With the buying power of the school system they should be much cheaper! This is poor management of taxpayer's resources. The California schools should not be paying $100 for a textbook. Somebody is not managing our money well IMHO.
Nick December 29, 2012 at 11:41 PM
As a student, I'm all for replacing textbooks with laptops. It would save the district money and would give more in-depth information than a textbook.
Zolla December 30, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Save the district money, are you kidding? It would though give them a reason to raise taxes on your community to pay for it. • Cost of notebook. • Cost of software per notebook. • You’ll now need an IT department for repairs & monitor the servers. • Cost of servers & modems. • Cost for internet services. And are these notebooks going to be assigned to each student to take home, are the parents of these students going to take responsibility for lost or damaged notebooks. I can see this costing the tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars per yr.
Nick January 08, 2013 at 12:00 AM
Schools already pay for internet services. All the public schools in the Tri-Valley, at least to my knowledge, have computers in the library and internet access. The only costs would be for the laptops themselves and some extra modems, and an IT department is debatable.
Brandon Iseman March 18, 2013 at 06:10 PM
duhh .
Brandon Iseman March 18, 2013 at 06:10 PM
gurl bye ,
Brandon Iseman March 18, 2013 at 06:11 PM
i think school should replace textbooks with laptops because it saves money in the further also its too much weight on kids back ,
Camaro on Cinderblocks March 18, 2013 at 06:25 PM
Like the textbook lobby is going allow this to happen....
william darko March 31, 2013 at 06:02 PM
william darko as a student, i hate when my book bag is heavy. i end up critisizing school. so i agree with replacing notebook computers

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