School’s out for summer…which means the fruit of your womb is about to have a little too much free time. Here, a roundup of hobbies for teens that promise to maximize the downtime with wholesome fun whilst keeping the chaos to a minimum. From meditative pastimes like watching the avian life in your own backyard and learning calligraphy to honing special skills like skateboarding or baking, here are 50 ways to pass the time away without iPhones.
Chess—one of the oldest and most challenging games around—is a great way for teens to sharpen their minds and meet new friends, be it online or at the local chess club.
2. Playing video games
Let’s be honest, gaming as a hobby is not exactly a hard sell (for your teen, at least). Parents, we hear you groaning—but many games require critical thinking skills, so it’s not as big of a timewaster as you might think. There are even e-sports leagues that require teamwork and strategy.
Teens with a passion for video production can make a hobby out of filming, editing and sharing content relating to their personal interests. Who knows? You might even have the next YouTube sensation living under your roof. Emma Chamberlain, who?
Fashion? Cooking? Creative writing? Teens can get their creative juices flowing by starting a compelling blog on whatever topic makes them tick. Make it password protected to keep fewer eyes on it.
Some cool new sneaks and a can-do attitude are the only things your teen needs to hit the ground running. Besides, sleeping in until noon and sitting on the couch all day is so overrated.
Psst: Teens who make a hobby out of swimming will be raking in the lifeguard dough all summer long.
Calisthenics, the fancy term for bodyweight exercises, is a fun way for teens to get buff from the comfort of home and without the cost of a gym membership. (You know, ‘cause training against gravity is free.)
Because your teen has untapped artistic talent and angst looks so much better on a sketchpad than on their face. Start simple, like with a star.
9. Learning to code
Coding is a fun and stimulating STEM hobby that will pay dividends down the road. Sign your teen up for an online course (and don’t rewatch Hackers).
Our list of top reads for teens will turn even the most reluctant reader into a bookworm.
11. Writing fan fiction
For teens who just binge-watched Stranger Things and can come up with, well, stranger things.
Teens can discover their green thumb whilst enjoying some fresh air with an outdoor activity that’s equal parts meditative and physically active. Bonus points if they also take up cooking and put the fruits of their labor to good use.
Volunteer work: A known mood-booster that allows teens to give back to the community, while making new friends in the process. Give your kid options—from virtual opportunities to mutual aid benefits, plant the seed of giving back.
Get your teen to cut a rug by practicing their favorite TikTok dance or learning something entirely new (think: ballroom dancing classes). Bottomline: Idle hands do the devil’s work and, per George Michael, guilty feet have got no rhythm.
If your artsy teen is in search of a hobby that will up their Instagram game, this one fits the bill (and can pay the bills down the road!).
PSA: Fishing is a parent-child bonding activity that even the most standoffish teen can get on board with.
Here, a relaxing art form that helps develop fine motor skills while providing teens with a creative outlet for their innermost thoughts and feelings. (And now they can do their own sweet 16 invites).
A teen who can cook will be worshiped by every ramen-eating roomie for years to come. Best of all, there is a multitude of online courses that will teach your kid all the skills required to whip up some seriously good grub in your very own kitchen.
19. Learn an instrument
We have it on good authority that nearly every rock star discovered their musical aptitude ‘cause someone handed them an instrument during their teen years. They can even start online. (What can’t the internet do?)
Bust out the family photo albums, plumb the depths of your memory and behold your teen’s newfound fascination with the family tree. You can kick things off with a DNA test, like 23andMe.
Stargazing is infinitely more interesting than, say, navel-gazing. And that’s just one of many reasons why you should score a sweet new telescope and encourage a curious teen to turn their attention to the night sky.
22. Playing Cards
With some practice and dedication on the part of your teen, you could be the proud parent of the next Ocean’s 11-style, card-counting mastermind. (You’ll also stand a much better chance of getting your kid to show some enthusiasm on family game night.) Might we suggest the highly addictive Euchre?
23. Rock climbing
Indoor rock climbing is an excellent and exhilarating workout for teens that boasts loads of adrenaline-fueled fun…without any serious risk-taking involved.
Your teen passed home-ec with flying colors and the interest in woodworking is still going strong. Why not set up a workstation in the backyard or garage where an eager teen can whittle and hammer to their heart’s content?
25. Bike riding
Even teens who are too young to drive can enjoy some independent time out on the town when cruising around on their fixie.
This easy-to-learn hobby is a relaxing activity that travels well. Plus, there’s nothing quite like the sense of pride that comes from receiving a compliment on a scarf you made yourself. (Right?) They can even start sans needles. Who knew?
Your teen likes to sing to Taylor Swift like nobody’s listening…but sign said child up for voice lessons and folks might actually want to.
28. Fashion design
Fashion design is a fun and creative hobby that yields wearable art—provided the teen trendsetter in question learns how to work a sewing machine, that is. (Here are some beginner sewing projects that can help with that.)
There is no limit to the number of Pinterest-worthy craft projects a teen can tackle with a little imagination. For kids in need of inspiration, we highly recommend this subscription box, which includes project ideas and the materials required to complete them.
Fashionistas who prefer to stay on the consumer side of the equation can make a hobby out of scoring budget-friendly finds at the local buy-sell-trade stores. Sounds like the perfect reason for a parent-kid trip for the best thrifting in NYC down the line.
Part sport, part social function—bowling leagues serve up the best of both worlds for bored teens. And did you know colleges give away scholarships for this sport? Yes, we said sport. Get on it.
32. Writing movie reviews
Suggest that the young film buff in your family writes a review for every movie they watch so their insightful criticism can be circulated on social media, or perhaps become the subject of their newly founded YouTube channel. (See, vlogging.)
General knowledge is a requirement here, so have your teen hit the books before hitting up the all-ages trivia nights in your hood.
Because you’re never too young to build an impressive stock portfolio (and amateur investing makes even more sense when you’re doing it with your monthly allowance instead of an actual paycheck).
35. Stand-up comedy
Once your teen has spent some time finessing those one-liners, head straight to an all-ages open mic night so they can test their material and work on their stage presence.
36. Jewelry making
Browsing the goods at local bead stores could be a hobby in and of itself—seriously, they’re magical places—but turning the treasure into wearable art is an even more rewarding endeavor.
If there’s one thing every Gen Z teen needs, it’s to be more one with nature. Gift your offspring a pair of binoculars so they can make a habit of peacefully observing avian life instead of mindlessly scrolling their Insta feed.
It sounds illegal, but if the can of spray paint is put to use on your own property (i.e., a bedroom wall) teen’s can tag to their heart’s content without consequence.
39. Martial arts
In case you missed it, martial arts is about more than just punching and kicking; it’s a physical workout that doubles as a mindfulness exercise. (But we won’t wax on or off about it.)
Whether your teen wants to learn some flip tricks or just go cruisin', this balance-boosting activity is a great use of summertime (watch out for rocks, though!)
42. Belly Dancing
A hip scarf and some Middle Eastern music is all that’s required for an (ab-toning) combination of fitness and fun that can be practiced at any time of day.
The teen in your life may not have seen Ghost but that needn’t put the damper on a girl’s standing date with a pottery wheel.
44. Planning travel
That gap year is so close your teen can taste it, which means it’s high time to start planning that globe-trotting adventure.
In case you missed it, baking is the bee’s knees. Get a teen on board and the whole fam will benefit from fresh sourdough sandwich bread and a grab-and-go morning muffin on the regular.
There’s proof on Instagram that your teen is making memories every day, but we’re casting our vote in favor of commemorating the good times with a hands-on scrapbooking project instead.
47. Building model airplanes
A STEM hobby in which teens can hone their attention to detail and even give their model a custom paint job once the aircraft has been assembled.
Turn on Bob Ross and get your teen to channel their inner Picasso for some quality time with a blank canvas.
49. Learning a foreign language
Nudge your teen to get started learning one of these easy languages and they’ll be impressing friends and family with their newly acquired skill in no time.
50. Creating make-up tutorials
TikTok and YouTube feature some pretty amazing makeup artistry, and there’s nothing stopping a talented teen from uploading their own tutorial there, too.