Consider the Pros and Cons Before Teens Enter the Workforce

Posted: May 23, 2016

Having a job can have both positive and negative consequences for a teen...

Youth who work limited hours are more likely to be employed after high school and have a better chance of earning higher wages after they graduate from high school. They may also gain contacts with adult employers who can provide positive recommendations in the future.

Some of the other benefits that working teens experience include:

  • An opportunity to learn life skills. Teens gain experience in working effectively with others, how to carry out instructions, following rules and routines in the workplace, being punctual, and honing their communication skills.
  • Learning how to balance school and work. Working teens must manage their time effectively, prioritize tasks, and keep organized to ensure they are meeting all of their responsibilities.
  • Acquiring financial management skills. Earning a paycheck allows teens to manage their money, plan for purchases, and save for future goals. Parents can provide guidance for their teen in setting financial goals. A good guideline to follow is spend no more than 80%, set aside 10% for charitable giving or gifts, and save at least 10%.
  • Building their resume. Being able to list work experience on a resume will help teens when it comes time to apply for college or find a full-time job. It will show prospective colleges and employers that the teen is a motivated, hard-working individual and will set him/her above the people who have no prior work experience.
  • Learning the importance of hard work. Teens can experience that being a hard worker is something that is respected and valued by employers and co-workers.

Even though there are a number of benefits to working, studies have found that teens who work more than 20 hours a week are more likely to experience negative effects in school, family and personal lives. Youth who work half-time or more report higher levels of emotional distress, substance use, fatigue, sleep deprivation, and less exercise. In addition, teens who work long hours spend less time with their families and on homework which results in poorer school performance.

Parents can play an important role in helping their teens select jobs which will provide positive experiences for them. They should discuss with their teens about why they want to get a job and cover issues such as how it will affect their school work and extracurricular activities. Parents should establish standards that their teen should meet in order to keep working such as maintaining good grades.

Parents might also want to check into the worksite at which the teen will be employed. Visit the job site and meet the supervisor to assess the work conditions. Discuss with the employer about the work hours, supervision at work, and safety concerns.

In addition, parents can talk with their teens about how they will use the money they are earning. Set up a plan for spending as well as saving.

Finally, parents should monitor how the youth is balancing work and school. Track the number of hours they are working, check on their school performance to ensure grades are being maintained, and review their spending and saving plan periodically.

Contact Information

Karen Thomas
  • Extension Educator, Food, Families & Health
Phone: 570-963-6842