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as a teen what IS there to do?

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 

in other words is it important for teens to have an interest to keep them from getting into trouble?


so they should not really do alcohol or drugs as teens, perhaps even sex (depending on their attitude and maturity).


i have lived in a few cultures and one common feature i find is that really there is nothing for teens to do except afterschool activities or a hobby they are interested in. 


and yet group dynamics are important. where i am apart from the mall or the river there really is nothing for the kids to do. there is no playground where the kids can climb and hang out - and i see them wanting to do that. ever since our playgrounds were 'dummed' down i dont see as many teens hanging there any more. 


yeah burger joints and fast food places but where else. outside the home of course. 


as a teen i was very different. i found everything and mostly everybody to be so immature. i tried doing the teen things but found them boring and useless. so i cant use my own experiences to even think about it. 

post #2 of 35
I have three teens and I work in community recreation so I can come at this from a couple different angles.

Teens #1(dd-18) and #3(ds#2-14) really have no activities that they are passionate about and have few friends. Since they were little we have done all the usual stuff , soccer, baseball, swimming, lacrosse, pottery, a teen fitness boot camp just to name a few and nothing has really stuck. Dd prefers to read, write and has recently gotten back into drawing. Ds2 is pretty much in the same boat although he really enjoys riding his bike all over town, sometimes 30+ miles a day. No interest in joining an organized bike club, right now he prefers Legos, reading and his Nintendo ds games.
Ds1 (just barely 16) is my kiddo that is a passionate athlete. He has tried out baseball, soccer, swimming, lacrosse and ice hockey. And although he took pottery right along with the other two he has stayed with lacrosse and hockey. He has traveled extensively for both sports and has hockey practice every day this year 45 minutes from home. You would think that he would be too busy to experiment and yet of our 3, he is the one who I found with pot. And, while I really have no issues with recreational or medicinal use in adults, it really did change his personality. We also discovered that he was drinking cough syrup in an attempt to get some kind of a buzz. He's just exposed to so many more things.
As far as communities offering more things, you'd be surprised how hard it is to get the word out that something is happening. When kids are little it seems as though parents are all over the recreation book picking out classes but not so much for teens. Then there is the expense. Most people that live in the city I work for believe that there taxes pay for the rec center- not so. We are required to not only break even but make money. So it would cost a teen $15 a week to hang out at the rec center unless they can buy a membership. And the classes also get more expensive. Instead of $25 for a 6 week pottery class for kids, it might be $70 because teens are apt to use much more clay. And our library have few things because teens just don't come. Although in their remodel/expansion last year they built 2 soundproof rooms for teens- one for gaming and one for recording podcasts.
Communities really don't like to see large groups of teens seemingly doing nothing. They could be discussing the universe or exhistentialism and someone would call the police and complain.

Wow that's long...
post #3 of 35
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by 34me View Post

Communities really don't like to see large groups of teens seemingly doing nothing. They could be discussing the universe or exhistentialism and someone would call the police and complain.

greensad.gif you are so right. i have seen that prejudice against teens here too. i love their rowdiness and enthusiasm but i see so many giving them the stinkeye.


and i get particularly upset that they allow all the 'bad' teens to colour their judgement against all teens. 


we've recently had some arson by teenagers in our area (they all got caught eventually) and its made life difficult for the other teens. irked.gif

post #4 of 35

We live outside a very small town (located in very rural, mountainous environment).


The majority of teens in our area are into horses & 4-H, hunting, fishing, camping, skiing (downhill & cross country) and other outdoor activities.  Many workout at the local fitness center (they get significant student discounts).  Fair week and rodeos are BIG, here!


Being a small community, teen jobs are minimal (a lot of kids "work" on their family ranches and farms).  But, the business that do hire teens, try to hire as many as possible.  Businesses give teens the use of their locations for fund-raising car washes during the non-winter seasons. 


There's a group of kids from immigrant families that go around neighborhoods, at the beginning of each snow season and are hired, in advance, to shovel snow for folks.  They know which homes need to be cleared before the school hours begin and which can wait until after school.  They do a great job and have sparked other kids to do the same.  This is to raise money just so they can do things without asking their families for money (their families can't afford much in the way of allowances).  That is initiative! 


A lot volunteer at the local assisted living and nursing homes.  I know of 3 that volunteer at the library, 5 at the local food bank and 7 at a local animal shelter.


Volunteering is very big in our community.  I think it is a great thing for teens (well, for anyone, actually) to be involved with.  By focusing on the needs of others, it lessens the "it's-all-about-me" feeling that, I think, many teens have.  They become part of the bigger picture and learn a hell of a lot about other people.


When some local teens wanted a specialized recreational area, they got together, proposed their plan to the city and raised the funding to make it a reality.  They help maintain it (volunteers empty the garbage barrels and raise monies to pay for a pop machine) and have been very vocal regarding the fact they want it to be a safe place to hang out.


I think teens need to do more about working towards and for their recreational wants instead of just having it all handed to them.  Rec centers are fine, but if the teens aren't expected to help maintain it and keep it a healthy environment, they don't appreciate it as much.

post #5 of 35
Our local YMCA's are great hangout places for teens and very affordable. They have areas to just hangout for every age group with a wide variety of things to do together in addition to open swim, classes, and teams. We also have a decent community center with teen nights as well as classes and an area to hang out. The Boys and Girls club is also an open and inviting place for many.

My dd has been swimming for years and we are going to a church with good teen support so I hope that also helps. I am also happy to pay for random classes so she can explore her interests and meet new people and will.continue to.do.so as my dd gets older. For us the engagement in the y youth area and in lessons began early and deliberately so I feel comfortable knowing she will.have a familiar place with familiar people as she goes into her teen years.
post #6 of 35

One of my kids has special needs, so I'll skip her because her deal is different.


My other teen is a Junior Docent at the zoo, and spends time there *most* weekends. She has a group of friends who meet every Friday night and watch a movie together and discuss it. (Same family always hosts -- same time -- same carpools). She is also in a garage band (which practices at our house). They aren't very good, but they are nice kids and have a really good time together. She also takes Karate twice a week Y. I think her life is pretty full, but none of it is stressful for her. She's having a blast.


In general, she and her friends don't care for most teen events such as the rec center. Most teens annoy her. I got her into an adult karate class because of this (which is working out great).

post #7 of 35

When I was a teen, my only interest was reading. I read at least a novel a day. I also did drugs and alcohol, but that had a lot more to do with depression and bullying than with "having nothing to do". I definitely had friend who were just plain bored, though.


DS1 will be 20 in March. His teens were full of stuff to do! He went to movies with friends. He went out and threw a frisbee. He went to the beach. He went to his friend's houses to hang out, and they came here. He played guitar, and took lessons for a couple of years. He was in choir. He was in drama. He was in the Interact (service/volunteering) Club. He was on the gymnastics team (team captain in his last year). He was on the Ultimate team. He had several girlfriends (his current one is away at university, and they've been together about a year and half...I think they both see marriage as probability at some point). He juggled. He spends time working out players, costumes, plotlines, etc. for videogames. He spent a lot of time planning and executing Halloween costumes. He has a lot of hobbies, and a lot of friends. Honestly, he would have liked his teens to last a couple more years, just so he had time to do more of the things he wanted to do - circus skills (he's had one course of swinging trapeze, and one of aerial silks, but the silks course was just a few months ago), martial arts, swordfighting, blacksmithing, etc.


He spends some time just hanging out on Xbox Live, playing Transformers with his friends, but ds1 is almost always busy, and I can't see him ever lacking for things to do.

post #8 of 35

I do think it can be important for teens to have healthy activities and interests to turn to. I don't think they have to be organized or community sponsored activities but it is always nice to have those too.

I think adults staying involved with teens helps keep them from unhealthy behaviors as much as having activities or hobbies. I think sometimes adults check out as kids get older when they could do a bit more listening, talking and providing a place to hang out for the teens in their lives.

I think parents can commit to hosting their teens and their friends for something as simple as playing games together once a week and that could make a real difference to those kids.

post #9 of 35

As a teen one of the things I loved was sea cadets.  Now that DD1 is old enough, she's now in cadets.  She has had a great time.  I don't know the logistics in the US but in Canada cadets is free to join and the uniform is provided.  And no, there is no expectation to join the military as the end of their time in cadets.  There are also summer camps they can go to and here they get paid to attend.  After a few years they can be a staff cadet and get paid well.  It's a great opportunity.

post #10 of 35
Originally Posted by onlyzombiecat View Post
I think parents can commit to hosting their teens and their friends for something as simple as playing games together once a week and that could make a real difference to those kids.


the mom who hosts the weekly movie night loves doing so. I've offered to send food or give her money for soda, and she's refused. She feels that staying stocked on things like microwave popcorn and soda is a small price to pay for knowing where he teen son is and that the strongest things he drinks is Mountain Dew.

post #11 of 35

Uhhh.... granted I am, like, totally old and everything, but when I was a teen, I always had a part-time job. And friends. And I loved to read.  In the summers I played tennis (as a young teen) or worked several jobs (as an older teen).  My parents were well-off but never gave me the impression that I didn't have to earn my own money to go to university. I didn't have TIME to be bored and do stupid stuff.


It seems like the part-time job has gone out of style.  Why is this?  I worked from the time I was 13 (my first job was in a bakery, cleaning up and working the till).  Or technically, I guess, from 11 when I started babysitting neighbours' kids.  My DH was the same and had paper routes and did yard work.  I'm not trying to be all crotchety and "Kids these days!!! Garn!!!" but I really don't see as many teenagers working now as when I was young.  Are there not enough jobs around?  Do parents not encourage it?  Is there too much homework and kids don't have time?  What's the deal?

post #12 of 35

I got a paper route at...11, I think? It was long, and it was tough. I kept it for three years, so I quit it about the same time my classmates were starting to get part-time jobs. I raelly didn't feel like getting another job...and when I thought about it, I realized I didn't have anything I wanted the money for. I read a lot, but we had lots of books at home, and there were tons in the school library, during the school year. So, I never got one, because I didn't need it. I was always a penny pincher, even as a kid (my grandmother would give us money to take on our family holidays, and my brother and sister would be out of cash, while I hadn't even broken the $20.00 bill) and I just didn't need or want the money. I had no intention of going to university, so that wasn't a factor.


DS1 never had one until grade 12. He found it really, really hard to squeeze in, because he was just too busy at school with classes, homework, choir (which was a credit course, but outside class time), drama, gymnastics, etc. Until he discovered clothes, he also didn't really feel any need to have money. He's pretty much a miser, like me. If he'd decided to do post-secondary sooner (didn't really make up his mind until 12th grade), he may have tried to earn money sooner, but it wasn't a big priority.

post #13 of 35
It's very hard for teens in my city to get jobs, because unemployment is high so stores and restaurants can hire adults. And people who want a sitter can hire some one over 16 who will drive herself back and forth.

I live in the dessert, so no grass to mow and no snow to shovel.

I do require both my dd's to do volunteer work.
post #14 of 35
In my area paper routes go to adults and babysitting jobs go to places that do a parents night out or to older teens and young adults usually. If you are legally able to work there are some jobs like fast food and bussing tables but even then there are many adults who are competing for any job to.get by so it isn't a sure thing. The age of people taking orders in the fast food restaurants seems to have gone up by a decade or two. A job is a great way to keep busy if a teen can find it though.
post #15 of 35

Jobs for teens are REALLY hard to find these days. Our biggest local employer is Six Flags - and they do hire a lot of people, including teens. My son worked there for two seasons, and hated it so much that he refused to go back after that. And strongly advised my daughter from even considering it. I can't really blame him - there have been increasing numbers of incidents requiring serious police intervention, that I just didn't want my kids constantly exposed to. At that point, though, he was old enough that my boss was willing to hire him, and he still comes home to work often enough that she can keep him on payroll.


Since that point, however, we've been barred from hiring family, so she couldn't do the same for my daughter (who came in with me many times and helped us out with stock, samples, customer service, etc., so my boss was very keen on having her on the team and paid). She has applied all over the place over the past two years, and couldn't find a thing. Every position has a ton of applicants, so the odds are pretty bad. She did finally find something "working" at an alpaca farm (which she LOVED), but it paid her enough for gas to get there and home.


Volunteer jobs? None of our animal shelters accept volunteers under 21. Our hospitals have pretty well done away with Candy Stripers. The library positions are limited and filled solely by who knows who. Nursing homes? Same thing.


As for whether activities keep kids out of trouble? I think INTERESTS keep kids out of trouble. And those can be group interests or individual ones. My son had individual ones (reading, writing, music composition). He spent pretty much all of his free time busy with those, on his own. No interest in drinking, pot, etc. My daughter? Field hockey - all the time. Since they could randomly tell her to drop for a drug/alcohol test - and she intended to play in college? She stayed clear of drugs/alcohol except for limited times. There were definitely girls on the team who didn't have the same personal commitments who chose otherwise. BUT... that didn't mean they were getting into trouble.


Maybe it depends on the definition of trouble. A few beers/wine coolers at a party? Eh. Drinking enough to vomit everywhere and pass out? More concerning. Drinking and deciding to drive? And/or commit vandalism? An issue. IMO, anyway...

post #16 of 35
Originally Posted by mtiger View Post

Volunteer jobs? None of our animal shelters accept volunteers under 21. Our hospitals have pretty well done away with Candy Stripers. The library positions are limited and filled solely by who knows who. Nursing homes? Same thing.



I was really surprised at how hard it was to find volunteer things for my teens. Here, you can't really volunteer anywhere until you are 14. Then you can do the summer program at the library, and they take pretty much everybody. The zoo takes 14 year olds, but they get WAY more applicants than they can use, so they require transcripts, letters of recommendation, and an interview, and then less than half the applicants get chosen.


You have to be 16 to volunteer at  a hospital or animal shelter. We haven't done those yet, so I'm not sure how hard it is to get in.


Kids can do community service through other groups, such as their school or scouts, 4H, etc., but those jobs tend to be limited to picking up trash in parks or pulling invasive species in the national park near here. That's about it.


Also, the laws here make it pretty much impossible for businesses to hire anyone under 16. It's really not an option. Competition makes employment for teens over 16 but without a high school diploma next to impossible.

post #17 of 35



I think a system that doesn't allow young adults to participate as fully as they're able to in society is just asking for problems, frankly.  If it's really that hard for teenagers to find paid employment or meaningful volunteer work - one of THE hallmarks of adulthood, in our society - how could they not feel useless and unwanted?  They have nearly adult bodies, nearly adult brains and capabilities, but they're told their only value to society is in schoolwork (which they may find of dubious value), hobbies or athletics, which are pursuits that are firstly virtually entirely self-serving (excepting, perhaps, team-based athletics) and secondly frankly a bit "pretend".  Yes, there are people who turn academics, certain hobbies or athletics into a career - but those are a small fraction of the population.  Yes, academics and athletics are PART of what makes a successful adult - but not, I would argue, even the largest part.


No bloody wonder teenagers turn to drugs, alcohol, petty crime and other self-destructive annoyances.  Their talents are being wasted and they have no opportunities to work side-by-side with older adults and learn from them.  And now I'm hearing that we're *legislating* this extended childhood by denying people under the age of 16 the ability to work??? Crazy.  Parents have no choice but to continue providing for people who are perfectly capable of contributing to household income and welfare (I mean the welfare of the household, not welfare as in system). 


Okay, granted, I don't have a teenager - my first child is only 6 and my second hasn't even been born yet.  But I remember being a teenager.  And I think that the work that I was able to do as a teen did a LOT more for me as an adult than 90% of my schoolwork, athletics or hobbies.  I didn't earn a lot - I think most of my jobs paid around $5/hr, and babysitting less - but I was able to provide clothes and books and holiday money for myself and contribute substantially to my university funds.  And I stayed out of "trouble" - no drinking, little partying, and I didn't have sex until I was in university.  AND I paid taxes.  I was able to put a good dent in the process of moving from a dependent to a contributing member of society.


I really hope my children are able to find work when they're ready for it.  Getting paid by parents to do stuff like rake leaves isn't the same at all.

post #18 of 35
Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post

In my area paper routes go to adults...


Oh, yeah - I'd forgotten about that. All the paper routes around here are handled by adults. They pretty much completely stopped letting kids do them a long time ago. I seem to recall a bunch of fuss about kids maybe getting hurt (and, it can happen - during my years as a paper carrier, I had several bad wipeouts on my bike, had a customer answer the door in his underwear when I was collecting and ask me inside, and got hassled by some bikers once...everything turned out fine, and I think the underwear guy was clueless and hungover, not a pervert, but I could see things going sideways in some of those situations) around the time that things shifted.


I've always used teens (or my mom) for babysitting, but I'm lucky enough to have a teenage son, so I can get him, or one of his friends, which means I can leave the kids with people I know.

post #19 of 35

When I was a teen (I'm 25 now), I had way more free time than most other people my age, and I still I felt like I didn't have time for anything! School took up so much time and energy.... In retrospect, it also caused me to have mild but troublesome depression symptoms. I had a bunch of solitary hobbies I was desperately squeezing into what time I had, and I was unknowingly self-medicating with caffeine, but I can definitely see why other kids turn to illegal drugs.


My younger siblings are teenagers. They've both had suicidal thoughts and drug problems. I don't blame them.


 And now I'm hearing that we're *legislating* this extended childhood by denying people under the age of 16 the ability to work??? Crazy.


A few people want to raise the age of adulthood period. I saw someone on MDC say the age of adulthood should be raised to 25 because that's allegedly when the prefrontal cortex is fully developed (the ol' "their brains are different" argument has been used to discriminate against people of other races and is STILL used to discriminate against women), and I almost punch my monitor. But the brain starts shrinking at age 30, so if we actually limit full adulthood rights to people at an age where the brain is typical at peak perfection, everyone will get a five year window of being a grown-up.


I think the unofficial extension of childhood through the college years is bad enough.

post #20 of 35

If a fully functional prefrontal cortex were a prerequisite for any sort of responsibility I think we could recall most of our politicians.  Teenagers may not have fully developed capacities for quality decision-making, but given the bell-curve distribution of traits in human populations, there are PLENTY of adults with poorer judgement than your average teenager.

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