Lazy Teens: The Phenomenon of Time, Fun, and Work


Maverick Mendoza

ON THE JOB Connor McKee Sargent provides assistance to a customer at his job.

Karma Nashed, Staff Writer

As kids, one of the most frequent questions we were asked was, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Generally, when we hear this question, we typically think of being “grown up” as being over the age of 25. However, teen jobs have been around for a long time, and now they are available to students even as young as 14. Yet, there has been a drastic decrease in the number of working teens over the past few decades. According to an article written by Rachel Premack, “Today’s teens are less likely to be employed than ever before. Almost 60% of teens in 1979 had a job, compared to 34% in 2015.” This statistic leaves us wondering: what has changed? Why the sudden drop in teen jobs? Numerous interviews of Issaquah High School students may answer these questions.

Two-thirds of the interviewed students said they had not applied for a job to begin with. “I’ve just never had to,” freshman Ian Campbell says. “It’s never been absolutely necessary for me.” Ian’s response offers further possible speculation: are teenagers themselves responsible for the progressive drop in student jobs, or is it simply more difficult to get employed? One of the many changes that has occurred over the decades is a serious upgrade in technology. Certain technological advancements have been able to replace the work that humans once had to do for specific jobs. Teenagers in modern-day society may not have as many options or reason to apply for jobs in the first place, compared to those of prior generations.

“I’m always busy with school and volleyball,” said junior Nadeen Radi. “I just don’t think I have the time or energy to be consistent with a job at age 17.” Writers believe a lack of time may be the primary reason that teenagers are not working statistically as much as they used to. According to The Pros and Cons of Teen Jobs, Angus Whyte explains the possible benefits that students may receive as an employee, as well as reasons why working as a teenager may not be as beneficial as their parents could think. Whyte said, “Teens who work too much – more than 15 hours a week – get lower grades than kids who don’t work at all.” Not only this, but the list of factors adding to teen stress has nearly doubled in size over the years. Comparing the tasks and activities that students were in charge of in the 1900s and early 2000s, it has been proven that teens nowadays have more responsibilities and topics to worry about than students back then. Examples of these are: drugs/substance abuse, more extracurricular activities, danger to themselves/families/ school districts, college and grades, sports, their own self-image, etc.

Out of the eight students that were interviewed, when asked about the pros and cons of not having a job, the response given from all students was anything along the lines of, “More time, less money.” Or, as sophomore Liam Meyer puts it, “It’s probably a lot more fun to not worry about a job. But I guess you’re also broke without one.”

There were only two students who recorded actually having/applying for a job. One of these individuals is freshman Megan Polkinghorn, who recently got a job as an assistant ski instructor. She was then asked about what the pros and cons were of working as a high-school student, to which she responded, “It can be really stressful. Balancing schoolwork hours and a job at the same time isn’t so easy. But on the bright side, it’s teaching me a lot about myself, like things I’m good at and things I need to work on, so I can get better.” Polkinghorn’s response was also supported by Whyte’s article: “Jobs help kids develop a sense of responsibility, and a greater sense of self.”

Although over half the students that were interviewed said they had not applied for a job, most of them reported they would most likely search for one next summer. “I just think we all have less stressors and things to complete over the summer,” says freshman Ava Divine. She explains, “Even if I wanted to apply for a job during the school year, I don’t think my parents would want me to. They would probably rather have me focus on school and grades with as little distractions as possible.”

In the long run, the vast majority of students simply do not have the time or energy to apply for or even think about jobs, especially during the school year. However, (depending on how well a student is at multi-tasking,) being a high-school student while working can still teach teenagers about time management, responsibilities, and can add to preparing them for the real world of money, economies, and business, along with making some money on the side.