The Toll on Teens

Teens who work tend to give short shrift to homework and sports compared with teens who do not, new research shows.

According to the American Time Use Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, teens who work spend an average of about two hours a day on the job on school days. To make time for that work, they spend 42 fewer minutes during the average school day on educational activities -- and a similar amount of time less on sports and leisure pursuits, compared with nonworking teens.

The cost of working shows up in other ways for teens. Working teens get about 71/2 hours of sleep a night -- a half-hour less than those without jobs and well below the 8.6 hours all workers reported.

Federal rules limit 14- and 15-year-olds to three hours of work on school days and 18 hours a week while school is in session; there are no restrictions on those 16 and older.

Still, whether they work or not, those ages 15 to 24 spend more time on sports, TV, socializing, recreational computer and game use than any other group -- except adults ages 65 and older, the survey found. Those 15 to 24 also spend the least time reading.

-- Vickie Elmer