The Effects of Too Much Homework on Teenagers

Teenagers studying in library
Too much homework can have a negative impact on your teen. (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

For most teens, homework is part of high-school life, who spend an average of four hours each week doing homework -- on top of a 32 1/2-hour school week, according to researchers at the University of Michigan. All that homework adds up, and hitting the books at home can have an effect on your teenager and on the rest of your family, too. If your teen is experiencing negative effects from too much homework, it’s a smart idea to bring the issue up with your child’s teachers.

Academic Effects

A reasonable amount of homework is a good thing, since it tends to have a positive effect on a student’s academic success, according to Harris Cooper, a professor of psychology and director of the Program in Education at Duke University. More than two hours of homework a night, though, did not improve a student’s future academic achievements, though, according to Cooper's 2006 study published in the "Review of Educational Research." Too much could prove counter-productive to academic success, especially if the homework isn’t appropriate for a teen, because it’s too challenging or not challenging enough.

Emotional Effects

Teens who have more homework than they can handle may become disillusioned with school and may lose the motivation to work hard, according to Gerald LeTendre, head of Penn State’s Education Policy Studies department. Students who find homework too challenging may be tempted to cheat on assignments, rather than ask for extra help, suggests the No Child Left Behind research done by the U.S. Department of Education.

Health Effects

Teens today engage in physical activity nearly two hours less a week than they did 20 years ago, according to researchers at the University of Michigan. Heavy homework loads -- in addition to increased computer and television time -- can make kids less physically active, which may contribute to obesity and related health problems. Too much homework may also contribute to increased sleep deprivation in teens.

Family Effects

Homework cuts into family time, which LeTendre said was one of the complaints frequently heard during his research. Homework can also cause unwanted friction between parents and children, especially for teens who are struggling learners, found Curt Dudley-Marling, a researcher at Boston College, who published his findings on homework and struggling learners in “Current Issues in Education” in 2003. Dudley-Marling found that when teens struggled with their homework assignments, it had a negative and disruptive effect on the whole family.

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