7 Basic Life Skills Every Teen Should Know (Even in the Digital Age)

Teens still need to learn basic life skills during the digital age.
Jupiterimages / Stockbyte / Getty Images

Technology has changed everything from how we conduct business to how we interact with our friends. And while many of those changes have certainly enhances the lives of young people, in some circumstances, it's also led to a lack of basic life skills.

The digital age allows teens to avoid many basic tasks. But at some point, they're going to need to know how to do certain things. And it's important for parents to be aware that in today's world, they may need to put a little extra effort into ensuring kids are learning these basic life skills.

1. How to Cook Simple Meals

Your teen can survive on fast food and microwaveable meals for a while. But, over the long-haul, most of those items aren't healthy choices.

Teach your teen basic safety issues associated with food preparation, such as how to handle meat safely. And make sure your teen knows how to cook at least a few basic recipes before he heads out on his own. 

2. How to Do Basic Chores

If you shudder at the thought of your teen’s future home someday looking like the current state of his bedroom, it’s important to start working on chores.

Basic housekeeping skills, like cleaning floors, dusting, and doing laundry are important. Enforcing rules about chores also sends an important message to your teen about the importance of contributing to the family. 

3. How to Make a Phone Call

Today’s teens rarely talk on the phone. Instead, they send text messages and use social media to arrange plans with friends.

As a result, many of them have no idea how to schedule an appointment or conduct a professional conversation over the phone.

Teach your teen appropriate phone etiquette. Discuss how answering the phone by saying things like, “What up?” aren’t likely to impress potential employers. Give your teen opportunities to practice phone etiquette by allowing him to schedule his own appointments or inquire about services offered by a business.

Provide coaching and feedback about his phone skills to ensure he'll be able to conduct himself appropriately when you're not around.

4. How to Write a Letter and Address an Envelope

Many of today's teens have no idea how to write a letter or how to address an envelope since email has largely replaced traditional letters. But there may be times in the future where your teen needs to send a traditional letter. Perhaps a cover letter and resume needs to be sent to a potential employer. Or there may be times where a handwritten note is most appropriate. 

Don’t assume your teen has learned how to write a letter in school. Teach your teen how to do address an envelope and write a letter.

5. How to Make Face-to-Face Conversation

Our digital world means teens are interacting face-to-face less often. And without proper coaching, many teens aren’t learning the social skills they need. In fact, research shows too much screen time impairs teens' social skills.

Make sure your teen understands manners and basic social etiquette. For example, talk about shaking hands and making eye contact when meeting someone new. Also, discuss the non-verbal body language that goes into conversation. Good social skills can offer your teen many advantages in the future.

6. How to Manage Money

Unfortunately, it’s easy for teens to get into debt and make big mistakes with money as soon as they leave home. A lot of teens enter into the adult world with little or no experience managing their finances. They don’t know how to balance a checking account and don’t know how to pay bills.

Begin teaching your teen money basics early on. Teach budgeting skills by helping your teen set aside his allowance money for various short-term and long-term goals. When he gets a part-time job, take a proactive role in helping him manage his money.

7. How to Care for their Health

Teens need to know how to care for their physical and mental health.

Teach your teen about the importance of proper nutrition and exercise. Role model the importance of self-care, attending regular doctor appointments, and talk about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

Also, make sure your teen knows how to manage stress and how to be mentally prepared to deal with life’s challenges. Teaching your teen to care for his health won’t just affect the quality of his adult life, but perhaps even the length of it.


Surgenor D, Hollywood L, Furey S, et al. The impact of video technology on learning: A cooking skills experiment. Appetite. 2017;114:306-312.

Uhls YT, Michikyan M, Morris J, et al. Five days at outdoor education camp without screens improves preteen skills with nonverbal emotion cues. Computers in Human Behavior. 2014;39:387-392.

Continue Reading