Advantages and Disadvantages of Keeping Your Teens Super Busy

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The wide number of extracurricular activities and clubs available to today’s teen paired with the parental urge to keep teenagers as busy as possible in a bid to prevent misbehavior has led to an intense debate amongst parents and parenting experts regarding the quality of life available to an over-scheduled teen. As with so many other hot-button topics in the parenting world, there are a collection of pros and cons for keeping teens on a tightly-packed schedule.


For some parents, making sure that their teens are able to participate in any and all extracurricular activities is a sign of affection, especially if they were not afforded those opportunities during their own teen years. There are some advantages to keeping your teen busy above and beyond providing her with every possible opportunity, though.

  • Minimizing Screen Time – When teenagers are busy with extracurricular activities, clubs and other commitments, they’re not spending time in front of the television or playing video games. Minimizing the amount of time that kids spend using electronic forms of entertainment has become so important that the American Academy of Pediatrics regularly tackles the subject. If you’re interested in keeping your kids away from television, the Internet and video games, keeping their schedules full is one way of accomplishing this goal
  • Encouraging Physical Activity – Getting involved in sports or active hobbies keeps teenage bodies moving, helping to prevent obesity and all of its related health risks. When you pair a full schedule of active time with a healthy, balanced diet, you’re helping your teenagers learn the basics of healthy food and exercise habits.
  • Instilling a Sense of Commitment – Few things help teenagers understand the concept of responsibility and commitment like having a full schedule of things that they’re committed to. Being responsible for maintaining their busy schedule, reaching goals and keeping up with things that they’ve committed to is a great foundation for teens who will soon be expected to juggle a busy college schedule or entry into the workforce.
  • Encouraging the Acquisition of New Skills – When your teen is involved in activities, groups and clubs outside of school, she’s actively learning new skills that she’ll be able to put to use as an adult. From the finer points of crisis management to simple leadership abilities, extracurricular activities help your child learn things she simply wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise.
  • Keeping Teens Out of Trouble – A teenager who barely has time to get enough sleep before starting her day all over again isn’t likely to have much time left over for the hijinks that lead to trouble. In fact, many parents opt to over-schedule their teens for this very reason.


Just as there are a passel of advantages to encouraging your teen to maintain a busy and active schedule, there are also a handful of disadvantages that come with being too busy. These are just a few of the reasons why you may want to think twice before packing your teen’s schedule so tightly that she has no spare time.

  • Exhaustion – Teens are not so different from adults when it comes to a hectic schedule. When your teenager is so busy that she has no time to relax, she’s just as likely to burn out as you would be under the same circumstances. In fact, she may be more likely to suffer from the effects of exhaustion and burn out because she’s also dealing with the changes and emotions of adolescence.
  • Increased Pressure to Perform – The more activities, teams and clubs your teenager is involved in, the more pressure she can feel to excel in each of them. Teenagers who are under an increased amount of pressure due their own unrealistic expectations may experience high levels of anxiety.
  • Decreased Academic Performance – It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that a teenager who doesn’t have enough time to study may not perform as well academically. When you push your teen to fill her schedule, remember all of the essential tasks that she’ll no longer have as much time for.
  • Loss of Family Time – Family time isn’t easy to come by as it is. Adding a handful of demanding activities and responsibilities to your teenager’s plate further reduces the amount of time you’re all able to spend together.
  • Loss of Free Time – Though an excessive amount of free time is one of the things that many parents are seeking to eliminate by enrolling their teens in a high number of activities, it’s important to remember just how important that free time is to your teen. She’s going through the emotional and physical changes of adolescence, which requires her plenty of time for self-reflection and contemplation.

In the end, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the problem of teenagers’ schedules. It’s up to you and your teen to work out a plan that fits the unique needs of your individual household situation. Working together, you can strike the balance between keeping your teen involved and spreading her too thin.

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