Have you ever wished your kids were more popular at school? Aside from the stress of trying to live up to what others think of you, a new study offers another interesting perspective on why popularity is not that great for kids: popular kids are more likely than their less popular peers to smoke.
According to the study, which was published recently in the Journal of Adolescent Health
, researchers found that the more friends a teen has, the more likely he or she is to be a smoker. The study is based on surveys among ninth- and 10th-graders at seven high schools in the Los Angeles area.
The author, Dr. Thomas Valente, a professor of preventive medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, asked 1,950 students about their thoughts on smoking, whether or not they had tried it, and how frequently they smoke if they did smoke. He also asked them how they thought their friends felt about smoking, whether or not their friends smoked, and who their five best friends were. Valente measured popularity by the frequency with which they were identified by their peers as a friend.
Overall, around 25 percent of ninth-graders reported smoking while for 10th-graders, it was 28.1 percent. Overwhelmingly, Valente found that smoking and popularity went hand-in-hand. In other words, the more often a teen was listed as a friend, the more likely it was that he smoked. And according to Valente, peer influence was “was consistently and strongly associated with individual smoking."
So the popular kids were more likely to smoke, and they were also more likely to influence their friends to do so.
Still wish your kids were more popular? Yeah, me neither.