Communication with friends can lead to future back problems. A statement that sounds ridiculous or even absurd, but true. In today’s society, communication has become a must have skill. From cell phones to I-pods, text messages to my-space, young adults are living in an age moving at a faster pace than ever before. High school freshman, in particular, have a higher risk for back problems than do the other three secondary grades combined and this modern day need for social interaction is to blame. The following are three common reasons for this:
1. Freshman, attending large school districts that have separated buildings between elementary, middle, and secondary grades, start high school wide eyed and scared to death. I have seen, in my seven years of being an educator, freshman come to school the first week and wander the halls looking for their classes backpacks empty. They barely have time to stop at their lockers and make it to class before the bell rings. When teachers give out textbooks to these students they mindlessly put the textbooks into their backpacks and wander to the next class, not stopping by their lockers to unload the unneeded text. This habit is a direct result of the confusion surrounding the first week of school. Freshmen are unwilling to accept the fact they do have time to go their lockers, go to class and be on time. A new building with new people, new teachers, and new combinations for lockers all add up to scared freshman unsure of themselves and their ability to effectively manage their time.
2. When freshman fall into a mindless routine after the first week of moving between classes, the six minutes allotted them becomes filled with socialization instead of panic and confusion. Freshman place more importance on the need to socialize with other students over the need to travel to their lockers to drop off heavy textbooks. The occurrences outside of school, between friends, and between classes take precedence. Freshmen know less people so they have more to talk about when they do meet someone new. An athlete can run a mile and a half in 6 minutes but high school freshman don’t believe they can go 200 yards to drop off a book and go to class. They constantly insist they have no time and their backs suffer in agony.
3. A normal high school freshman’s schedule includes on average between four to six classes that require a textbook. The average textbook weighs between 10 to 15 pounds. Simple math states that on average a freshman who does not use their locker carries between 40 to 90 pounds of books on their backs every day. The answer to fixing this problem is make textbooks smaller so they are light and easier to carry around. One option would be to divide textbooks into four sections for each quarter. I know of very few teachers who teach every section of the text.
Freshmen make conscious decisions to socialize everyday while carrying 90 pounds of books on their backs. Why don’t they make the logical choice of unloading the weight for comfort? They don’t because by not unloading the books they add 1 minute of socialization time to their day. These seven minutes a day could eventually add up to years of pain and suffering. We live in a society with “Attention Deficit Disorder” when communicating and our young adults are making poor decisions with their posture that will forever impact the quality of life they will have. Mindless chatter, heavy backpacks, and chronic spine trouble, “Is this the future we are passing on to our children?”