Is Being Busy Good for Teens?
April 24, 2019
Today’s teenagers must balance school, extracurricular activities, and college preparations. Being so busy becomes hard to manage and often causes a lot of stress. At the same time, students can learn time management skills and positive work habits. Two staff writers provide opposing viewpoints on the issue.
Yes, being busy is good for teens.
Everyone will likely experience stress at various points in their life, so it is better to experience stress in high school first and learn how deal with it than to experience it for the first time as an adult. There is something to be said for the benefits of being able to prioritize your time in the face of a packed schedule and learning how to spend your time doing productive work.
Developing Good Work Habits
One of the most important skills that school teaches students is how to prioritize their time. In high school, students can often be expected to complete up to four hours of homework from every teacher on any given week, according to US News. In addition, when parents, counselors, and colleges push participation in extracurricular activities and clubs, not much time is left over for anything else.
This shortage of free time forces students to decide what matters more to them, their grades, which could end up greatly impacting their future, or spending time with their friends. And if their grades are more important, they have to be able to develop the skills to work well under pressure.
Learning what work habits are the most useful for them personally is the first challenge facing teens who are figuring out how to manage too many obligations. Once teenagers learn their study habits and how they can get the most work done in the shortest amount of time, which can only come from repeatedly finding themselves in a time crunch, they will be able to use what they have learned about themselves for the rest of their lives.
Being able to work consistently and productively as an adult in the workplace can make anyone a more valuable asset in any line of work. Future employers appreciate employees who are good at avoiding procrastination and able to follow through on promises.
Discovering Personal Interests
In addition, when teens decide, within extracurricular activities and classes, which is a best use of their time, they show a level of maturity in realizing that they can’t do everything.
Prioritizing their time and being forced to choose what to spend their time on will also help students discover what they really love to do and help maximize their motivation. They are allowed to learn more about themselves as they sort through what things they enjoy doing the most.
Staying Out of Trouble
Being busy doing things that are healthy is also a lot better than the alternative. Sometimes, teens who aren’t as good at making decisions for themselves and who have a lot of extra time on their hands do things that they will regret later. While some of these decisions can be learned from and forgotten, others lead to unavoidable consequences that will stick with the teens for the rest of their lives.
Under certain circumstances, the results of unnecessary free time in teens can include risky behaviors that lead to teen incarceration and under-age drug use.
Members and counselors of the after-school fitness club Just Keep Living, or JKL, understand what can come of teens who misuse their free time and get into unwanted trouble. Kurt Budd, a member of JKL said that he enjoys the community at JKL and that he has learned a lot from the experience.
“It’s feels nice for me to have something productive to do until it is time to do my homework,” said Budd, a sophomore.
This program in the West Gym is meant to provide a healthy alternative to teens using their time poorly. Members of the program spend time working out together after school and doing other physical activities in addition to building a community together.
“I feel like if I have something productive to do, I am getting something good out of it rather than doing nothing at all,” said Ernie Gomez, another member of JKL. “Being in JKL is something I feel like everyone needs for health, mental health and physical health. In places like JKL, you are able to be productive and especially with other people you feel comfortable with. You get to explore your thoughts and get feedback from other people, too.”
Ms. Cabebe, a staff member of JKL, explained that JKL is meant to be a “home away from home” for the teens involved. She said that it is a safe place for kids to spend their time to make sure that they don’t get into trouble.
Other on-campus after-school activities that benefit Venice teens include Boys and Girls Club, sports programs, marching band, Academic Decathlon, theater production, and some college classes.
No, being busy may actually hurt teens.
Many people enjoy being busy, but having a schedule crowded with activities can often become chaotic. While being busy provides us with things to do, having a full schedule actually hurts you more than it is rewarding to you. There is a difference between being a high performer and being a workaholic; many times, being a workaholic means doing things just for the sole purpose of doing them.
Being too busy hinders your ability to do your best work on individual tasks. Rushing to finish a project before swiftly moving onto the next causes a person to do the bare minimum to finish a lot in little time due to a busy schedule. This mindset produces a poorer result and defeats the purpose of doing many things to ultimately receive a good payoff.
Time to decompress
Free time is seen as a valuable commodity that provides teenagers with a way to decompress. Just because some people have nothing to do doesn’t necessarily mean they will make poor decisions. Some people like to spend their time doing brainless activities like watching TV or being on their phone because with so much daily chaos, a break is needed.
Having too much free time is not what leads teenagers to be involved with drugs, alcohol or other delinquent activities. It wouldn’t really matter if they had free time or not, because they would make time regardless.
The pressure of being able to do everything is always expected of students so if something doesn’t get done, it is seen entirely as the students’ fault. Teachers and coaches don’t base their workload off of other classes or clubs, so they solely think of themselves as the priority rather than the priority of the student. It’s difficult to choose between long hours of homework or sports practice. Some students might give up and do neither. A student should have enough time to finish what they have to do rather than place importance of one thing over the other. A student should not pack their schedule to the point where their activities aren’t on equal footing because that hinders their ability to give 100 percent.
Stress is not mandatory for teenagers
From preschool to the last day of graduation, students are under stress from a variety of different activities. At what point is it too much? Stress as a teenager is different from stress as an adult. Teens have to deal with grades, friends, family, teachers and outside interests and that can lead to a very stressful burnout, evidenced by senioritis and lack of motivation. Teenagers should not have to subject themselves to stress just to come up with ways to handle it, when in reality, stress should just be a minor issue. Knowing how to handle stress as a teenager is not a prerequisite for adulthood. At the end of the day teenagers are still kids and they should be able to experience life like a kid would, without stress.