The Pros and Cons of Afterschool Jobs for Teens

An afterschool job can teach your teen responsibility, but there are drawbacks to employment.
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Although an afterschool job seems like a time-honored tradition, the number of teens who work has actually fallen in recent years. The decline in the teenage workforce may be partially due to the difficulty many teens have finding work.

Additionally, there are perks and drawbacks to allowing your teen to get an afterschool job. Of course, the only way to know if your teen can succeed in this situation is by knowing her personality and, perhaps, seeing how she does on a temporary basis.

But before you get to that step, work with your teen to draw up a pros and cons list to decide if she should search for that afterschool job.

The Pros of an Afterschool Job

  • An afterschool job teaches your teen the value of money early, as well as how to effectively manage finances. If your teen gets a job to pay for their own “fun” expenses, such as clothes and gas, she might learn that money doesn’t go as far as she thinks.
  • If your teen falls into the right job, it might end up setting her down a career path. If nothing else, a part-time job gives your teen valuable work experience that she can list on a resume for future jobs.
  • If your teen heads straight from school to a job, it shortens the amount of free time she has to engage in risky behaviors. If you work longer hours, you might feel a little better knowing that your teen isn’t up to no good. 
  • A job could instill confidence and independence in your teen. If she works with customers, it can teach her how to handle difficult situations and improve her communication skills. 
  • An afterschool job will help your teenager gain work skills--such as how to complete a job application, how to do well in an interview, and how to work for a supervisor.

The Cons of an Afterschool Job

  • While an afterschool job might offer a lot of benefits to your teen, the fact of the matter is that you will have less time overall--for school, for friends and for family. You might find your teen staying up late to finish homework. Fewer hours of sleep may impair her academic performance. In fact, research shows that students who work more than 20 hours a week have lower grade point averages than students who work 10 hours or less a week.
  • If your teen doesn’t like her job, it can give her a negative impression of employment overall, which could hinder her future success.
  • Being obligated to work a shift could take away from the high school “experience.” If your teen is waiting tables, it’s likely that she’ll be working Friday night instead of attending football games. It could be very difficult to participate in a sports team, drama production or volunteer work if she has a part-time job.
  • Working too many hours could cause your teen to become stressed out. The purpose of a job is to give your child a little more freedom by earning her own money. If she never has time to spend that money having fun, what’s the point?
  • Research shows teens with afterschool jobs are actually more likely to use drugs and alcohol. The extra spending money and the added responsibilities may lead some teens to make poorer choices.

If you’re still on the fence about your teen having an afterschool job, start by having her find a summer job. Summer employment won’t interfere with school and it can keep your teen busy during the summer months.

 If a summer job goes well, talk to your teen about the pros and cons of having an afterschool job during the school year.  

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