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Perils of part-time work for teens.

Perils of part-time work for teens

Rather than building character and responsibility, extensive part-time work during the school year may contribute to academic, social and emotional problems among adolescents, scientists report in the March DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY. Compared with classmates who do not work or who work only a few hours each week, high school students who put in longer hours on the job report less interest in school, lower grades, more psychological distress and physical complaints, higher rates of drug and alcohol use, higher rates of deliquency and less reliance on parental guidance.

As hours of weekly employment rise, the statistical link to these factors gains strength, particularly among students who work more than 10 hours per week, say psychologists Laurence Steinberg of Temple University in Philadelphia and Sanford M. Dornbusch of Stanford University.

The researchers administered extensive surveys to 3,989 students, aged 15 to 18, at nine high schools in California and Wisconsin. The students filled out surveys in the fall of 1987 and again about six months later. The group included youngsters from a variety of social, economic and ethnic backgrounds.

Those who had jobs displayed no advantage over the others in self-reliance, self-esteem or attitude toward work. Moreover, students working longer hours reported exerting less effort in school, even when the researchers statistically controlled the data to account for participants' initial attitudes toward school. Student workers more often reported cheating on schoolwork, copying assignments and cutting classes.

Although teenage employment probably does not, in itself, cause the list of problems noted in the study, "it may well be a contributing factor," Steinberg and Dornbusch assert. However, they point to the need for a long-term study to help clarify whether students generally work long hours because they already dislike school and whether student workers merely show a greater willingness to report bad grades, drug use and other problems.
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Title Annotation:academic, social and emotional problems
Publication:Science News
Date:Mar 30, 1991
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