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Teens, Jobs and School: The Pros and Cons
Most teenagers realize at a fairly young age the old adage that “money equals power”. Money equates to designer clothes, a car and insurance, and in many cases, freedom. And to earn money, many teenagers get part-time jobs.
While the pros and/or cons 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 work school has still not been returned. According to the US Department of Labor, 50% of American teenagers work in informal jobs, such as babysitting or gardening, by the age of 12. And by age 15, nearly two-thirds of American teenagers have had some kind of job. And many researchers, including those on government panels like the National Youth Commission, praise part-time work and say it helps the transition from youth to adulthood.
Parents and educators have been saying for decades that part-time jobs teach kids to be responsible and manage their money. But Temple University researcher Laurence Steinberg found that only 11% of students say they save most of their money for college, and only 3% contribute to household living expenses. “Most of teen money goes to clothes, cars, entertainment and, in some cases, drugs and alcohol,” according to the results of a study published in Harvard Education Letter in 1998.
Steinberg says, “Students who work longer hours report decreased academic engagement, lower academic performance, increased psychological distress, higher drug and alcohol use, higher delinquency rates, and greater autonomy from parental controls.” 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. In 20 years of research, students who worked more than 15 hours a week had lower grades, did less homework, had higher dropout rates, and were less likely to go to college than college students. who worked less than 15 hours per week.
But Jerald Bachman, of the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future project, cautions against jumping to cause-and-effect conclusions. “I would say most of the problems with long hours are more fundamentally caused,” he says. “That may contribute to the spiral, but I think the spiral is well underway the moment they choose to work long hours.”
While the downsides of a part-time job are many, so are the upsides. A teenager’s job can teach job skills that school doesn’t have, and it can instill new confidence, responsibility, and independence in the teenager. Earning money will allow your teen to buy things and manage their money. An after-school job can also provide adult supervision, especially if you work longer hours than a typical school day. And the right job can provide networking opportunities and set your child on a rewarding career path.
But before your child finds a job, there are some things you need to know. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, “minors under the age of 14 may not be employed or permitted to work in any occupation, except children employed on farms or in domestic service in homes. private”. Children under the age of 14 can also work on farms, be golf caddies, newspaper carriers or juvenile performers in the entertainment industry. But special permissions may be required.
Also according to many state labor laws, teenagers between the ages of 14 and 15 are not allowed to work more than four hours a day during the school year and not before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. summer, the number of working hours per day can be increased to eight.) Children under the age of 16 are not allowed, by Pennsylvania law, for example, to work in bowling centers (except as snack bar attendants, markers, or control desk clerks), heavy construction work, highway work, anywhere alcohol is sold or distributed, manufacturing, on scaffolding or ladders and window cleaning.
For 16 and 17 year olds, some state laws state that “minors shall not work before 6 a.m. or after midnight on school days and 1 a.m. 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 are 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 work in billiard halls; do electrical work; operation of elevators; perform crane and lifting operations; dig; operate machinery that does woodworking, baking mixing, cleaning, oiling or die pressing; roofing; welding; and do demolition.
Getting your teenager a job is an important step on the road to maturity. Be sure to discuss the pros and cons with him. You can also accept a job on a trial basis, for example “you can work x number of hours per week during this grading period, then we’ll decide if you can continue to work, based on your grades”. Keeping up good grades, pursuing extracurricular activities, and maintaining a social life will be important for your child’s psychological health and development. Also prepare a budget with your child, setting spending limits and enforcing a policy of paycheck percentage in savings. Good money management skills, acquired in youth, will last a lifetime. Part-time jobs can be a wonderful experience, with the right parental supervision and guidance.
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