Pros & Cons of Allowing Students to Carry Backpacks in School

Allowing students to carry backpacks can cause health issues.

As today’s students take on more and more classes and activities than ever before, they often purchase one of the most popular items to help them carry around the materials they need: a backpack. Parents, however, may worry that the weight of these backpacks may cause problems for their children. By evaluating the pros and cons of allowing students to carry backpacks in school, teachers, administrators and parents can make a decision in the best interests of the children.

1 Pro: Organization

Students with many classes and heavy coursework will often have at least one textbook, a notebook, a folder and other various supplies (from calculators to art materials) for each class. When they have to sift through their lockers to find materials for various classes throughout the day, it can be time-consuming, confusing and inefficient. Backpacks allow students to find what they need and organize it ahead of time. In addition, they often have separate pockets for things like pencils and calculators, helping students find the materials they require in a matter of seconds.

2 Pro: Timing

Because students may have as many as eight or nine classes throughout their school day, it does not make sense for them to keep returning to their lockers to search for the books for their upcoming classes. This would lead to a greater pause between classes and less time actually spent learning. Having a backpack allows students to store materials for three or four classes at once, allowing them to stop by their lockers before school, at lunch or mid-day, and at the end of the day, keeping them productive and preventing them from wasting time.

3 Con: Contraband

The sheer size of many backpacks means that they make a portable hiding place for children as they go about their school day. Unlike with lockers, school administrators are much less likely to conduct random backpack searches to look for contraband. Therefore, backpacks can make a hiding place for everything from drugs and alcohol to prohibited cell phones. Moreover, teachers and administrators are unlikely to be aware of these items, as they are hidden in students’ backpacks.

4 Con: Health

The health effects of using backpacks can be serious and long-lasting. A heavy backpack can put pressure on a student's back and spine, affecting his muscles, posture and skeletal health. By purchasing backpacks with padded shoulder straps and ergonomic construction, students can avoid these problems; however, most students do not use these features, even when they are available, and prefer to wear the backpacks in the most comfortable or fashionable way, rather than how they were originally intended to be worn.