Time To Work On Teens' Summer Jobs

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Summer vacation is right around the corner and soon millions of teenagers around the country will have nothing but time on their hands. Many parents are divided on the issue of whether children should take on jobs during their vacation -- on the one hand, it will teach them responsibility. On the other hand, they will spend a lifetime working soon enough.

Janet Bodnar, author of "Raising Money Smart Kids," writes that "Even though a paying job can help teenagers sharpen their skills in the workplace, it can also be a two-edged sword. By encouraging kids to work, it's easy to create a generation of teenage werewolves, obsessed with feeding their ravenous spending appetites for even more clothes, cosmetics and concert tickets."

If you do decide to encourage your teens to get summer jobs, be sure to offer them plenty of guidance in actually securing the job, setting work hours and managing money. Summer is a great time to start because there is no problem with managing work and school. Bodnar says that baby-sitting and retail sales jobs (preferably in small businesses) are the most kid friendly, thanks to flexible hours and learning opportunities.

Federal child labor law dictates that teenagers may not work more than 8 hours on a nonschool day or 40 hours in a nonschool week. During the summer, they can work a full-time schedule, but keep in mind that some time off is probably healthy for your child.

If you just want your student to learn responsibility and job skills, volunteering is another way to go. There are plenty of opportunities for teenagers to volunteer at museums, hospitals and child-care facilities during the summer, and they may even be given more responsibility than in paying jobs, says Bodnar.

By Marshall Loeb