TIME – Like adorable turtles, their little limbs poking out from under outsized shells, kids shuffle their ways to school bearing on their shoulders ever-heavier backpacks. Even high schoolers have to bend forward beneath books and binders to cart their cargo to and from school. They’re burdensome (and can be goofy-looking), but are they dangerous? Yes, say many experts. “Since at least 1998, we’ve noticed backpacks getting bigger and heavier, and not in proportion to the kids’ sizes,” says Dr. Karen Jacobs, a clinical professor at Boston University and spokesperson for the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), which sponsors a school backpack awareness day. Jacobs says crowded schools and scant locker space appear to be driving the phenomenon. A 2010 study from the University of California, San Diego, concludes, “backpack loads are responsible for a significant amount of back pain in children.” The same study says a full third of kids aged 11 to 14 report back pain. Other research from 2011 came to a similar conclusion. “Kids are saying ‘My back hurts, my neck and my shoulders hurt,’” Jacobs says. “A heavy backpack can also contribute to headaches and problems concentrating at school.”
Um…thanks, science. Only a few decades late on that one. Wait a second, why are kids now worried about this? Don’t they all have tablets and have wheels and shit on their backpacks to help them out? Not in my hey day. Carrying a heavy bookbag up hill both ways to and from school used to be like a badge of honor. Kind of like a respect thing even though it should have definitely been considered child abuse. Between books, food and sports equipment I probably was hauling 100 pounds every day and was damn proud. Straight up making bitches wet with my Ninja Turtle Trapper Keepers. Never organized or cleaned it out till the end of the year and when I did would find about 100 mechanical pencils and a couple old Polly-O string cheeses at the bottom. Plus, no matter how much more painful it was, you had to pull the one shoulder move back in the 90’s. It’s the opposite case now, but going two shoulders would be suicidal in the playground social order. And how is my back now, you ask? It’s as crooked as a question mark. I legitimately need to give myself a pump up speech to bend over and tie my shoes. My back is like Chase Utley’s knees or Kim Kardashian’s box – it had potential and is still relatively young in the grand scheme of things, but there’s way too much wear and tear to ever be in it’s prime again.