Today’s teenagers live busy, connected lives, but it’s important to teach them the value of giving back. It’s never too early to start doing good in the world! But with the advent of social media and the “like” economy, some have argued that it’s more difficult than ever to get teens to focus on the bigger picture. Here are some ways to get your teen involved in giving!
Bring in Reinforcements
According to DoSomething.org, having friends that volunteer regularly is the number one factor impacting whether or not a teenager decides to give back. In fact, over 70 percent of teens with friends who regularly volunteer also decide to start giving back. While you can’t pick your child’s friends, you can help to steer them towards charitable activities. Encourage them to get involved as a group rather than as individuals. Whether they want to build a house (Habitat for Humanity) or make it a race to the finish line (fundraising for a charity race), there are plenty of great choices for teens in groups!
Cater to their Interests
When teens enjoy the work they’re doing, they’re more likely to stick with it. Whether your teenager loves puppies or shows a proclivity towards the arts, there’s a volunteer opportunity out there that is a fit. Pay attention to your son or daughter’s interests and help them find the possibilities that suit those. Is your daughter considering medicine as a future career? Volunteering at the local hospital or clinic could be a good fit. Is your son good with children? Help him get started as a “big brother” at an organization like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. On websites like VolunteerMatch, you can find dozens of options—including virtual ones that allow your teenager to use his or her computer skills to help others without leaving the comfort of home.
Change it Up!
Attention spans are shrinking as society becomes increasingly intertwined with technology. Teens are prime examples of this! To keep volunteering fun for your teenager, suggest opportunities that involve physical activity like cleaning up a local park or walking dogs from the local animal rescue. Some local museums may have hands-on volunteer programs where activities can range from leading tours to performing science experiments, ensuring that there’s something new every day. Nonprofit organizations offer all types of volunteer assignments—reach out and see what your local ones have to offer!
Set the Tone
If you want your teen to start volunteering, make sure you’re leading by example! It can be easy to forget about taking time for others in the chaos of everyday life; in fact, only 32.9% of adults with children under the age of 18 participate in volunteer activities. But, like with friends their own age, teenagers with a parent who volunteers are more likely to volunteer themselves. So, make it a family affair and and get everyone involved!
No matter where your teenager’s interests lie, there are dozens of options to get them thinking about how to make the world a better place. And if you haven’t found anything, create it yourself! Start fundraising for your favorite cause—in any crazy way you can think of!—with everydayhero today.