Should Teens Work in the Summer?
Between traveling, camps, and school, there are plenty of ways to keep kids occupied during the summer months. Getting a job could encourage teens to practice responsibiliy, time management, and learn how to spend their money wisely. Of course, teens and parents must carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of working summers as a young adult. Below are a few reasons why working during summer vacation could be a good idea…and some reasons why it may not be the best for the teen.
Why jobs can be helpful…
You’ll learn how to manage your money
Making your own money and deciding how you should spend it is an important life skill. Through a job, many teens understand the value of a shekel. For example, let’s say you want a new cell phone and your parents tell you you’ll have to pay for it yourself. It may take you a few months to make the money for the phone. You’ll have had to work hard for what you want, but you’ll appreciate it more.
You’ll learn new skills
The skills you learn at a job will almost always be helpful later in life no matter what you’re doing. Just by showing up to work on time you’ll learn accountability. While working as hard as you can (or doing the best job that you can), you’ll practice responsibility. Working while also making time for friends, family, and other activities teaches time management, which means practicing how to make everything in your schedule fit and work together.
Some examples of skills include:
- Interpersonal skills (interacting with all kinds of people makes it easier to adapt to different personalities, an essential skill for the “real world”)
- Computer skills working with different technology and exposing yourself to other computer programs will sharpen your computer skills
- Leadership skills working with children at a summer camp or working as a lifeguard provides good leadership training
You’ll meet new people
You could meet new people by attending sports camp, but working allows you to befriend all kinds of people with different interests. Having a job pushes you out of your comfort zone in many ways. When you get to know many different types of people, you also grow as a person.
You’ll gain independence
Working also allows you to gain independence. You’re making your own money and deciding how to spend it without your parents to guide you as much. You’re responsible for knowing your work schedule, getting to work on time, and solving any potential work related issues. If you are not able to work a certain shift, it’s your job to notify the manager, or find someone to cover for you. This kind of problem solving creates a sense of independence.
Why it may not be the best choice…
It takes time away from other activities
Getting an internship, preparing for college, or catching up on school work from the previous year is a lot harder when working a summer job. Instead of working, what you may really need to do is to find an internship and possibly discover what you’ll want to study in university. Or, it might be better for you to focus on summer school and getting caught up (or moving ahead) for the next year.
You’re only young once
Many parents argue that teens shouldn’t feel the pressure to get a summer job because they won’t have many summers to fully enjoy their freedom as soon as they go to college. A teen’s summers are some of the last times to be a kid without the responsibility that will come in a few years. Many parents argue that this time is important for them for personal growth.
The job could be stressful
Teens often have enough to worry about, and adding a stressful job to their plate could do more damage than good. Everyone needs some downtime to relax. It’s always helpful to learn how to manage stress, but if you’re in distress, that could be a sign that getting a job was too much.
Parents might object
Parents may not want to grant that degree of independence to their kids. When their children earn their own money they can decide for example that they want to purchase something that the parents object to, or go on a vacation with their friends despite their parents objection to it…
Teens may get taken advantage of
Teens might be taken advantage of by employers who don’t pay, or they may have to work under bad working conditions.
These two personal accounts explain both sides to the debate:
Lauren Miller spends her summers working at the Hershey Lodge in the United States, planning group activities for kids, and she loves it. “I think it creates a lot of responsibility in teens,” Miller said. “They have to get up and go to their job. They’re earning money for whatever they want to do.”
On the other hand, some parents aren’t happy with teens working during the summer. One Colorado supermarket hired 13-year-olds to pack customer’s groceries and take them to their cars, until a local newspaper suggested they were breaking child labor laws. The supermarket was then forced to lay off the kids. While some parents were upset and thought working was helping their children, other parents believed that afternoon jobs would affect their children’s academic achievements.