In many families, having a job is a rite of passage for teens. However, teens can face both positive and negative consequences of getting a job. The CS Mott Children’s Hospital National Survey on Children’s Health asked a national sample of parents of teens ages 14-18 about their experiences related to their teen’s careers.
When considering whether a job is a good fit for their teen, parents rate the following factors as very important: whether the hours fit into their teen’s schedule (87%), the convenience of transporting them to and from the job (68%), and whether the job provides an educational experience (54%), average pay (34%), and other teens who work there (25%). Most parents consider themselves (29%) or somewhat (52%) familiar with state laws regarding teen employment.
More than half of parents of 18-year-olds (53%) say their teen has a formal job, compared with 42% of parents of 16-17-year-olds and 8% of 14-15-year-olds. Among these parents, 26% estimate that their teen works 20 hours a week. Parents say teens use their job money to pay for personal items (82%) or activities (29%), to save (75%), or to help with family expenses (8%).
Parents of working teens believe that having a formal job has a positive effect on their teen’s money management (76%), self-esteem (70%), time management (63%), and social life (28%); They indicated a negative impact on teens’ sleep (16%), activities (11%), social life (11%), and grades (4%). In addition, 44% reported that their teen had problems at work, including not getting the same number of hours promised (26%), having to work longer hours or late hours (18%), disagreements with co-workers or managers (14%), unsafe attitudes in the workplace (6%), and incorrect or late pay (6%).
Parents of teens without a formal job express concerns that having a job can negatively affect their teen’s grades (44%), participation in activities (44%), sleep (42%), or social life (23%). Some parents expect teens ages 16-18 (42%) or 14-15 (22%) to get a job within the next six months. Parents say factors that may prevent their teen from getting a job include being too busy (34%), transportation (27%), lack of jobs for teens (14%), needing help at home (6%), and school (5). %) or health (4%).
- Parents cite logistical factors (schedule, convenience) as the most important factors in determining whether a job is a good fit for their teen.
- Of the parents of teens who work in a formal job, almost half report that the teen has problems in the workplace.
- Less than 1 in 3 parents feel very familiar with state laws on teen employment.
Having a job can provide teens with the opportunity to gain experience, make new friends, and earn money. Many parents note that having a job helps teens improve time management and money management. At the same time, parents are concerned that it can interfere with a teen’s schoolwork, extracurricular activities, social life, and sleep schedule, potentially causing a negative impact on the teen’s mental and physical health.
Benefits are more likely to occur when teens are in a job appropriate to their circumstances. Parents in this Mott survey prioritized logistical factors, the most important of which was whether the job would fit into their teen’s schedule. This should be considered broadly, to include time for schoolwork, extracurricular activities, family obligations, and planned social events, as well as time to get to and from a job. Being realistic about these practical considerations may prevent later conflicts and avoid setting the teen up for negative consequences.
Many teens will need guidance in trying to find a suitable job. Parents can encourage teens to use multiple strategies, including online posts, asking other teens for suggestions, or going to a company and asking directly about potential jobs. Giving advice on how to dress and act during an interview, and role-playing the types of questions employers may ask, may help teens feel more comfortable and confident during the interview.
Parents can also help teens make a list of their own questions to ask during the interview, focusing on making sure the job will meet their practical considerations and priorities. For example, if the teen is only available on certain days, it is important to verify that the employer will meet the schedule constraints; Otherwise, the job may negatively affect their sleep, stress level, and other areas of life.
When teens start a new job, parents should watch for any signs of a negative impact on the teen’s physical or mental health. Teens may worry about being in an unfamiliar situation, having someone evaluate their performance, and dealing with more demands on their time. Having regular conversations about what’s going on at work creates an opportunity for parents to offer support and encouragement, and share tips, while they assess whether the job is too much of a burden.
Furthermore, in this Mott Poll survey, nearly half of parents of working teens indicated that their teen had experienced job-related problems, including working longer hours than expected and unsafe work situations. Parents should be familiar with state laws regarding teen employment, including restrictions on the total hours and times teens are allowed to work, as well as safety measures such as rules about operating equipment. If parents suspect problems in any of these areas, they should encourage their teen to find a different job that will support their health and safety.
Although younger teens between the ages of 14 and 15 are allowed to hold an official job in many states, the options can be limited. Casual jobs like babysitting or mowing the lawn are a good option to allow your teen to gain confidence and experience. Parents can help young teens get started by introducing them to friends and neighbors who may have informal assignments, by identifying how to do well, and by talking to them about the different challenges they may face.
Whether your teen has a formal or informal job, parents may want to set some guidelines about what teens do with their earnings. For many families, teens use their earnings to get “extras” – personal items beyond what parents give. In other circumstances, teens are expected to use job earnings to cover the costs of participating in extracurricular activities or saving for college. In other cases, teens may be required to contribute to family expenses. Setting expectations will help parents and teens avoid conflict in this area.