Posted: September 9, 2011
Two weeks ago, I took the teenagers shopping for school supplies and learned that things have changed since I went to high school. Aside from the myriad of notebooks, folders, pens, pencils and Post-It notepads, I was most intrigued by the time spent selecting the proper backpack.
I have never owned a backpack, whether it be for camping or school. But I understand why students need backpacks in this day and age. First of all, textbooks are considerably larger today than they were 30 years ago. And it seems to me that kids don't have enough time to utilize the school locker like we did in the 1980s. That said, I was charged with helping the teens pick out the best backpack since last year's version was apparently of no use this year.
I learned that backpacks can make a fashion statement, but can't be too practical. For example, it is a general rule of thumb that a loaded backpack should not exceed 10 percent of a child's body weight. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, a professional group that sponsors a National School Backpack Awareness Day, a 100-pound student should only be hauling 10 pounds of books and school supplies. However, it was obvious that both teens carried a much heavier load, which is why I suggested the purchase of a backpack with wheels. But, alas, backpacks with wheels aren't cool.
Today's backpacks have a number of ergonomic features, as well as pouches for a laptop computer, a water bottle and/or cellular phone. There is also a section for extra clothes or even a pair of shoes. The most popular backpack by sales this year is made by L.L.Bean Inc. The Turbo Transit II (I didn't know there was an original) measures 2,400 cubic inches, which is about the capacity of a small refrigerator for a college dorm room.
As the school year enters week two, both teens appear pleased with their backpacks. They even bring them home to presumably make it easier to haul the books necessary to do homework.
I also don't remember having as much homework as kids do today. Of course, it could be that I just blew off the assignments and took my chances come test-time. But, I can remember trying to get all of my homework done before taking the bus home - because 30 years ago, backpacks weren't cool.