Many teens want to work after school. In some cases, a teen whose family has little income may not have a choice if her earnings help keep the family afloat financially. Whether after school work is good or bad for a teen depends on the circumstances and the teen. Although money is the most tangible benefit of an after-school job, the work can bring benefits as well as adverse consequences.
Teens who work have the opportunity to learn to manage money. Even teens who have gotten an allowance may not have had enough money to really begin to practice basic skills such as learning to balance a bank account or budget for major purchases and savings. A teen who earns her own money can make more purchasing decisions and reap the rewards or learn from the consequences, such as related to impulse buying, that directly affect her financial bottom line.
Other Positive Skills
An after-school job provides an opportunity for teens to learn good work habits, especially if there is an adult in the workplace who is willing to mentor. Teens who are shy with other adults or the public can learn to interact assertively with them. An after-school job can instill a good work ethic and help a teen learn time-management skills. Some jobs can reinforce what a teen is learning in school. A teen might learn about history from working in a museum, for example, or strengthen computer skills by entering data. A job can also help a teen prepare for a career.
Negative consequences of an after-school job can include the potential for sexual harassment, workplace bullying or exposure to substance abuse in the workplace, according to the Center for Parent Youth Understanding. Teens may not be sophisticated enough to recognize sexual harassment if it is subtle, and teens may be uncomfortable dealing with harassment from a boss or older person. A teen may also need adult guidance to distinguish between reasonable requests for extra effort and workplace bullying from a supervisor or more experienced employee.
Set Time Limits
Teens who work more than 20 hours a week are more likely to experience negative consequences such as poor grades and sleep deprivation, according to the National Consumers League. They are also less likely to have time for extracurricular activities such as sports or socializing. As hours at work increase, so do the chances that the teen will drop out of high school. If college is on his horizon, consider that the after school job may interfere with this goal. Increased work hours can also increase the risk of on-job injury, especially if the teen is sleep-deprived. A teenager needs 8 to 9 hours of sleep, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
It Depends on the Teen
Whether after-school work is good or bad for a particular teen depends entirely on the circumstances and the individual. If your teen is mature and able to handle the extra responsibility, an after-school job could be very beneficial, but if he is an over-achiever, discuss the disadvantage of taking on too much. A teen who is struggling in school or has behavior issues may not be a good candidate for an after-school job, or if he really likes the job, it could be the thing to turn his life around. In either case, work hours should be limited to less than 20 hours a week, and he will need plenty of parental support without pressure.
- Center for Parent Youth Understanding: Helpful Info on Teenagers and Jobs
- The Prevention Researcher: The Benefits and Risks of Adolescent Employment
- National Consumers League: Working More Than 20 Hours a Week Is a Bad Idea for Teens
- The American Society of Safety Engineers: Fact Sheet - Teens at Work, Know the Risks
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