digital textbooks
heavy backpacks
high school
no backpacks
no books
October 22, 2013

All Digital High


Maggie: Nearly 80 million students in the U.S. carry backpacks, and more than half of them suffer from some type of back pain related to the way the packs are worn. Well, Scott Evans visited one school to find out how students there are downsizing their overstuffed bags.

Scott: I can’t imagine a book bag getting heavier or bigger than this.

Student: It is the biggest one in the school though.

Scott: It is a weight every student has had to bare…

I feel like I am getting, like, a full-on work out right now.

…Some students more than others.

But lugging around heavy textbooks has become a thing of the past for this New York High School, since they have become one of the first schools in the country to go totally digital, meaning no more heavy books and all e-books instead.

Noelia Pozo: I’ll still say take out your books, when I should be saying take out your tablets, take out your laptops.

Scott: Noelia Pozo, whose lesson plans are based heavily off the textbook, says it has become easier for students in her Spanish classes to remember information because the e-books offer quick access to textbooks from previous years as well.

Pozo: Now, because they can access it, they go back and they are like, ‘Oh, I know this now.’ They can do practice exercises. So they get that reinforcement from one year to the next, which is excellent to see them do.

Scott: But besides the educational benefits, going digital has helped to lighten the loads the students are carrying on their backs.

Daniel Negron: A lot lighter. A lot less than last years’.

Scott: Now, this still looks pretty substantial but if you were going to compare how high it was stacked last year, how high would you say?

Daniel: About over here. Just full of textbooks.

Scott: Really? About how heavy would you say your book bag was last year?

Daniel: It was over 30 pounds at least.

Scott: Experts say a backpack should not weigh more than 10 – 15% of a student’s bodyweight. So if you weigh 150 pounds, your backpack should way between 15 and 22 pounds. Too much weight can lead to neck, back and shoulder problems. And besides the physical burden, Stepinac High School is also reducing the financial burden with their all-digital textbook library.

On average, parents were spending almost $700 a year on textbooks and now…

Patricia Murphy: A hundred and fifty bucks. The cost of one-and-a-half textbooks. A one-time cost for a device that they can use for the next five or six years, if they take care of it.

Scott: According to the Department of Education, technology-based instruction can reduce the time students take to understand a subject, and that might have something to do with the advanced features you can’t get in a normal textbook.

Jimmy Mitchell: You can sometimes – some books even offer to read some of it for you. So if you don’t know how to pronounce certain things or if you are still slow at reading, you can have the book read it for you first. And it’s much easier than just having a regular, plain old book with paper doing it.

Scott: Wait a minute. You mean to tell me, like, your book can complete your reading assignment for you?

Jimmy: Yeah, you can just sit back and listen to it as it talks to you.

Scott: Technology. I tell you what!

But of course with all this technology, the school has to work on solving a new problem: how to keep all these laptops, tablets and phones fully juiced.

Murphy: And there is a plan to put in a large charging station down in the cafeteria. So when the kids are eating lunch, they can sit and do their homework and charge their devices and be ready for the afternoon.

Scott: Scott Evans, Channel One News.

Maggie: If your backpack is still jam packed, here is a tip: try putting the heaviest things on the bottom. For more ways to lighten your load, make sure to head to and check out our page on backpack strain.


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