Working more than 20 hours a week in high school found harmful

Feb 04, 2011

Many teens work part-time during the school year, and in the current economic climate, more youths may take jobs to help out with family finances. But caution is advised: Among high school students, working more than 20 hours a week during the school year can lead to academic and behavior problems.

That's the finding of a new study by researchers at the University of Washington, University of Virginia, and Temple University. It appears in the January/February issue of the journal, Child Development.

In a reanalysis of longitudinal data collected in the late 1980s, researchers examined the impact of getting a job or leaving work among middle-class teens in 10th and 11th grades. Drawing from the full sample of about 1,800 individuals, the researchers compared who got jobs to similar teens who didn't work, and adolescents who left jobs to similar teens who kept working.

Using advances in statistical methods, the researchers matched the teens on a long list of background and that are known to influence whether or not a young person chooses to work; using this technique allowed more certainty in estimating the effects of working on adolescents' development than in the original analysis of the data.

The researchers found that working for more than 20 hours a week was associated with declines in school engagement and how far adolescents were expected to go in school, and increases in problem behavior such as stealing, carrying a weapon, and using alcohol and . They also found that things didn't get better when teens who were working more than 20 hours a week cut back their hours or stopped working altogether. In contrast, working 20 hours or less a week had negligible academic, psychological, or behavioral effects.

"Working part-time during the school year has been a fixture of American adolescence for more than 30 years," notes Kathryn C. Monahan, a postdoctoral research scientist at the University of Washington, who led the study. "Today, a substantial proportion of American hold part-time jobs during the school year, and a large number of them work more than 20 hours each week.

"Although working during high school is unlikely to turn law-abiding teenagers into felons or cause students to flunk out of school, the extent of the adverse effects we found is not trivial, and even a small decline in school engagement or increase in may be of concern to many parents," she adds.

The bottom line, suggests Monahan: "Parents, educators, and policymakers should monitor and constrain the number of hours adolescents work while they are enrolled in high school."

Explore further: New research shows people are thinking about their health early in the week

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Start school later in the morning, say sleepy teens

May 20, 2007

A survey of sleep-deprived teens finds they think that a later start time for school and tests given later in the school day would result in better grades. The survey was presented at the American Thoracic Society 2007 International ...

Study shows teens become less active as they grow older

Feb 19, 2007

As they grow older, teenagers are spending more time in front of the computer and television and less time participating in physical activities, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. ...

Recommended for you

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

22 hours ago

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury (Update)

22 hours ago

About half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City's jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults, according to a new study that's the latest in a growing body ...

Autonomy and relationships among 'good life' goals

Apr 18, 2014

Young adults with Down syndrome have a strong desire to be self-sufficient by living independently and having a job, according to a study into the meaning of wellbeing among young people affected by the disorder.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...