Backpack & Tech Use


How to Avoid Text Neck!

School Life Includes Backpacks and Tech

But Using Them Incorrectly Can Have an Impact on the Body, Regardless of Age

School life includes backpacks and tech (computer tablets/desktops, and cell phones). Using these items incorrectly can negatively affect the body, regardless of age.

Heavy backpacks and improperly used tech use can put more stress on the cervical spine (the spine between the neck and shoulders). Both move the head forward which then causes the neck and shoulder to work harder.

More school-age kids are seen in emergency rooms with complaints of neck and shoulder pain. “Text/Tech Neck Syndrome” has “affected all pediatric ages,” according to Johns Hopkins and Mayo Clinic.

More kids and teenagers are experiencing neck, shoulder, and back pain from improper use of tech and overstuffed bags and backpacks. This can throw off good posture and cause more muscle strain. 

Michigan WorkSafe Youth Safety Program is made possible through a State of Michigan MIOSHA Education Safety Grant, a division of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The program information and training are free to Michigan’s School Districts through the grant. The Grant ends on Sept. 30, 2024.

Bring tech up to keep your head up, looking forward instead of down.

Use a desk and chair with a back to support the neck, shoulders, and back.

Propping up tech using a stand will help to keep the neck and shoulders relaxed.

Use Tech in an Upright Position

The key to using tech is bringing the device up so that the head is more upright, sitting on top of the shoulders with eyes looking ahead. Keeping the head straight maintains good posture for the neck and shoulders. Looking down for hours does not.

Use this tech technique when doing homework. Instead of working from the floor, bed or couch, sit at a regular kitchen table or desk with a sturdy chair with a back. This offers the best back support. Set your tech more upright on the desk or table.

Taking short breaks while completing homework relieves the back, neck, and shoulders and the eyes too.

Tech Adjustments

  • Use the tablet on a table and prop it up on its case for comfortable viewing.
  • Use a book underneath a desktop computer
    to keep the screen up to keep the head more upright.
  • Adjust your desktop computer so it’s comfortably viewed, approximately an
    arm’s length away.
  • Frequent breaks from using tech help
    relax the neck and shoulders.

More tips include:

Elementary School Students

  • Encourage your child to take frequent breaks from tech
  • Get kids to play outside with non-screen-based toys
  • When using screens, prop them up and place them at the child’s eye level

Middle School Students

  • Take frequent breaks and practice good posture
  • Encourage a 2-hour limit per day
  • Parents, be a part of the 2-hour limit yourself

High School Students

  • Use a desk or table with a back-supported chair when using laptops
  • Take frequent stretch breaks

Back Pack Recommendations

It’s All About Backpack Weight, How It’s Packed and Overall Fit

Your kids may not need to carry all that “stuff” in a backpack. Use the guidelines below for you and your backpack use.

When Purchasing a Backpack, Look for:

  • Lightweight When Empty
  • Reflective Material
  • Waist Belt
  • Wide Straps
  • Multiple Sections
  • Padded Back

How to Pack:

  • Put the heaviest item closest to the back when the pack is worn
  • Use the pack sections for lighter items

Total Weight of Backpack to Carry:

  • Carry No More Than 10% to 20% of Body Weight
  • Use a bathroom scale to weigh the packed backpack
  • Use the equations below as a guide

How to Lift

  • Squat down, bending the legs to grab both sides and then lift with the legs.
  • Do Not Bend at the waist to pick up the pack (the spine is not designed to do so).

How to Carry

  • Use both shoulder straps
  • Using one shoulder strap can cause “lopsidedness.”
  • Use the waist belt, adjusted snugly to carry the load close to the body (to avoid putting the load on the back or shoulders)

When the Backpack is TOO Heavy

  • Leaning forward, unable to stand up straight
  • When the user is complaining of pain or soreness

Use a lightweight backpack with full straps.

Pack heaviest item along flat bottom so that when you carry it’s close to the back.

Wear both backpack straps including the waist strap, to lighten the overall load.

Don’t over stuff your backpack.

Maximum Weight to Carry in a Backpack – 10% to 20% of Person’s Weight

60 lb person
X 10% (.10)
6 pounds

60 lb person
X 20% (.20)
12 pounds

A 60-pound (lb) person may carry between 6 – 12 pounds depending on physical health and strength.

140 lb person
X 10% (.10)
14 pounds

140 lb person
X 20% (.20)
28 pounds

A 140-pound (lb) person may carry between 14 – 28 pounds depending on physical health and strength.

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