Teens, jobs, and school: the pros and cons

Most teens pick up on the old adage that “money equals power” at a fairly young age. The money equals designer clothes, a car and insurance, and in many cases some freedom. And to earn money, many teens get part-time jobs.

While the benefits and / or drawbacks of teens and part-time jobs have been researched, studied, and debated since at least 1979, the verdict on teens, jobs, and the effects on school work is yet to be known. According to the US Department of Labor, 50 percent of American teens have informal jobs, such as babysitting or gardening, by age 12. And by age 15, nearly two-thirds of American teens have had some kind of job. And many researchers, including those from government panels like the National Youth Commission, praise part-time work and say it contributes to youth’s transition to adulthood.

Parents and educators alike have said for decades that part-time jobs teach kids how to be responsible and manage money. But Temple University researcher Laurence Steinberg found that only 11 percent of students report saving most of their money for college, and only three percent contribute to household living expenses. “Most of teens’ money goes to clothing, cars, entertainment and, in some cases, drugs and alcohol,” according to the results of a study published in the Harvard Education Letter in 1998.

Says Steinberg: “Students who work longer hours report lower participation in school, lower school performance, higher psychological distress, higher drug and alcohol use, higher crime rates, and greater autonomy of control over offenses. parents”. A 1997 study by David Stern, director of the National Research Center for Vocational Education at the University of California, Berkeley, proves Steinberg’s point of view. In research conducted over 20 years, students who worked more than 15 hours per week scored lower, did less homework, had higher dropout rates, and were less likely to go to college than students who worked less than 15 hours. Hours per week.

But Jerald Bachman of the University of Michigan Monitoring the Future Project cautions against being too quick to draw cause-and-effect conclusions. “I would say that most of the problems that correlate with working long hours are more fundamentally caused,” he says. “That may contribute to the spiral, but I think the spiral is on the moment they choose to work the long hours.”

Although the drawbacks of a busy part-time job are many, so are the benefits. A teen’s work can teach job skills that school doesn’t teach, and it can instill in the teen a new confidence, sense of responsibility, and independence. Earning money will allow your child to buy things and manage money. An after-school job can also provide adult supervision, especially if you work more hours than a typical school day. And the right job can give you networking opportunities and place your child on a rewarding career for life.

But before your child gets a job, there are a few things to know. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, “Children under the age of 14 may not be employed or permitted to work in any occupation, except children employed on farms or as domestic servants in private homes.” Children under the age of 14 can also work on farms, be golf caddies, newspaper carriers, or youth entertainers in the entertainment industry. But special permissions may be required.

Additionally, according to many state labor laws, 14- and 15-year-olds cannot work more than four hours per day during the school year and no earlier than 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. (during the summer, the amount hours of work per day Pennsylvania law prohibits, for example, children under the age of 16 from working in bowling alleys (unless they are cafeteria attendants, scorers, or control desk clerks), building heavy work, road work , Anywhere Liquor is sold or dispensed, manufacturing, on scaffolding or ladders and window cleaning.

For 16 and 17 year olds, some state laws say that “minors must not work before 6 am or after midnight on school days and 1 am on Fridays and Saturdays.” Also, no more than eight hours per day and 28 hours per school week. (During the summer, the only restrictions for 16 and 17 year olds is that they cannot work more than eight hours a day or 44 hours a week.) Young adults under the age of 18 are prohibited from working in billiard rooms; doing electrical work; elevators in operation; perform crane and lifting operations; digging operating woodworking machinery, bakery mixing, cleaning, oiling or punching; roofing; welding; and doing demolition.

Getting your teen a job is a big step on the road to maturity. Make sure to discuss the pros and cons with him or her. You can also accept a trial job, such as “You can work x number of hours per week during this grading period and then we will decide if you can continue working, based on your qualifications.” Maintaining good grades, continuing extracurricular activities, and maintaining a social life will be important to your child’s health and psychological development. Also, prepare a budget with your child, set spending limits, and enforce a paycheck percentage policy in savings. Good money management skills, acquired in youth, will last a lifetime. Part-time jobs can be a wonderful experience, with proper supervision and guidance from parents.