Being cool is not so cool
Most kids want to be “cool” and fit in with the popular crowd. Few make it to this elite group during childhood and it turns out that those who are “not cool” may actually be better off in the long run.
In a recent study, 184 children were followed from the time they were 13 until they turned 23. During that time, their popularity, alcohol and drug use, romantic relationships and deviant behavior were tracked. The teens who prioritized hanging out with attractive people, having romantic relationships and participating in rebellious activity were seen as popular in middle school, but by the time those teens reached their early 20s they were no longer seen as popular.
“Long term, we call it the high school reunion effect,” said lead researcher Joseph Allen, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, in a statement. “You see the person who was cool…did exciting things that were intimidating and seemed glamorous at the time and then five or 10 years later, they are working in a menial job and have poor relationships and such, and the other kid who was quiet and had good friends but didn’t really attract much attention and was a little intimidated is doing great.”
As adults, kids who were cool in middle school were more likely to be perceived as less competent in managing relationships and getting along with friends. They were also using 40 percent more drugs and alcohol than the “not cool” kids and were 22 percent more likely to be involved in criminal activity.
“Parents can attempt to counter influence psuedomaturity by trying to keep their children within age appropriate activities,” says Sarah Katula, APN, PhD, clinical nurse specialist at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill. “If parents and teachers can be aware and promote age appropriate behaviors, we might be able to curtail some of the effects of psuedomature behaviors that then lead to negative outcomes for teens and young adults.”
In addition Katula recommends that parents encourage kids to watch age appropriate TV shows, more wholesome TV or no TV at all. It is also important for kids to be active in activities such as sports, religious/spiritual activities, family outings, work, and volunteer work.
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