School Stops Using Books -- It's About Time!

Rant 27

high school kidsI have always been a bit of a purist about books. I want my daughter to know the feel of paper between her fingers. I know I'm not alone. So I surprised even myself when I heard a high school had completely given up on textbooks. I wanted to forward the news to my kid's school and suggest they follow suit.

Yes, you read that right. I think going completely digital is something every school should do. ASAP!

I know it won't happen any time soon, mostly because it costs a lot of dough to outfit every kid in your school with an iPad or a laptop. Not to mention I live in the boonies; a fair share of the kids in my daughter's school district don't have computers at home because they don't even have Internet access (yes, in 2013, and yes, I know how ridiculous this is ... please, write my legislators!). Still, this is a viable option, and to prove it, Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, New York, has become one of the first schools in the country to go all digital.

They're still one of the very few, but it's about darn time someone did it!

This has nothing to do with shoving electronics down kids' throats and everything to do with the pain and strain on a child's back every time they hoist a backpack, pain that only gets worse as they head into high school and get loaded down with homework that requires multiple tomes to complete.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission once calculated that carrying a 12-pound backpack to and from school and lifting it 10 times a day for an entire school year puts a cumulative load on kids of 21,600 pounds. That is the equivalent of six mid-sized cars. The CPSC recommends a backpack weigh no more than 10 to 15 percent of a child's weight, but the average bag is more like 20 percent.

Oh, and they ALSO say 7,000 kids on average suffer some sort of injury ... from a BACKPACK.

Replacing all that weight with something you can carry with one hand? Kind of a no-brainer to me if the school can come up with the cash. 

Because as important as an education is for kids, in the long run, they need their health too! And coming from someone whose back problems started at around 12 -- and whose bookbag was definitely above that 15 percent threshold -- I can't tell you how much I wish this option had been available in the early '90s.

What would you do if your kid's school went all digital?


Image via USAG-Humphreys/Flickr

back to school, health, school


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

Kency09 Kency09

When I was in Jr high, I had 7 classes with books, no lockers and NO backpacks. I would have loved all digital.

nonmember avatar Suni

I wonder about the unintended consequences. Who is going to pay for a new ipad when a kid breaks one or loses it? Will this make the children targets of theft if everyone knows all these kids have expensive electronics on them?

Jespren Jespren

I don't know, very hesitant. There are significant downsides to digital copies of things, the obvious one being you are relying upon a very expensive and very delicate thing to access something that exists only in a nebulous concept of 1s and 0s. Yes, technically you could 'break' a textbook, but it would take a lot more than it would take to break an ipad or laptop. I also hate the idea that today's kids are somehow too delicate to do something kids have done for generations: manage schoolbooks. But, I can also see the upsides as well.

kstormo kstormo

My husband works at a high school that is all digital (paid by a bond) and it definitely has major downsides. Students tend to play video games (getting around the district website blocker) and its difficult to catch them because they are so fast at removing the window. It's so much of a distraction that he just doesn't allow the laptops in his room. So there's always a double edged sword.

truth... truthrowan

And the new research that says that kids who use IPADS and electronic devices actually learn less and the kids around them learn less, and that you retain less knowledge from digital media than traditional print doesn't affect the way you feel about this at all? The movement towards digital as long as the 4th grade has us planning to homeschool starting then.


First... FirstTimeMama21

Students need to suck it up and stop being lazy. Carry your damn books! I was in a high school with six classes and no lockers. Not only was I able to carry my full bookbag, but I carried a musical instrument and varsity gym bag from class to class as well. Hit the gym and suck it up!

nonmember avatar Theresa

Just another downside to mention: It's not just the ipads that cost extra money, they will have to purchase "new" books every year because the digital textbook license only lasts for one year. So instead of traditional textbooks that can be reused for years (depending on the subject) they will have to pay for new licenses each year.

Ally Swarrow

I carried all my books in my backpack, and never used a locker in high school, and I turned out just fine.

nonmember avatar S

I was homeschooled, and learned mostly from DVD classes that were recorded. That being said, I didn't get an iPad to play with or a laptop to do things on while I was supposed to be learning.

I completely DISAGREE that kids should get iPads and laptops in school. It's a HUGE waste of money! Let kids learn how to read books.. it's not going to hurt them any.

Where I live first graders just started getting iPads for their classrooms. Why in the world would a 5 or 6 year old need an iPad? I'd love to know.

It's a ridiculous waste of tax payer money. Schools should be using the money for something more productive, like theatre groups or foreign language classes. Not only sports, iPads, and the highest end laptops possible to get.

MammaSam MammaSam

What is this world coming to? Yep let's just add to the obesity and health problems by removing some lazy kids only form of excersise. Going all digital removes the need for pencils too. Fine motor skills will dwindle. It's all just sad and sick.

1-10 of 27 comments 123 Last