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Posted at 9:30 AM ET, 06/ 8/2010

Your kid’s friends matter more than you think, study says

By Valerie Strauss

Do you care whether your adolescent has more friends they made in school or elsewhere?

Consider this: Kids who have more friends in school than out-of-school tend to have higher grades, according to a new study reported by

In their study, UCLA psychiatry professor Andrew J. Fuligni and one of his former graduate students Melissa R. Witkow concluded that adolescent boys and girls of all ethnic groups with higher GPAs have more in-school friends.

The researchers recruited 629 high school seniors from three Los Angeles–area schools; the average age was 18 and the pool was evenly split by gender. The students answered questions before logging in a journal their activities and the time they spent with in-school friends and friends from other places.

"We found that within an adolescent’s friendship group, those with a higher proportion of friends who attended the same school received higher grades," said Witkow, now an assistant professor of psychology at Willamette University.

"This is partially because in-school friends are more likely to be achievement-oriented and share and support school-related activities, including studying, because they are all in the same environment," she said.

The authors of the study, published in the online edition of the Journal of Research on Adolescence, said that friendships formed outside of school also fulfill a child’s social needs, and may not be “necessarily always detrimental to achievement.”

The researchers said they want to research how out-of-school friendships are formed and how they are different from in-school friendships. The authors hope to expand their studies to draw upon younger ages and earlier grades.

The bottom line, Witkow said: Know your child’s friends.

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By Valerie Strauss  | June 8, 2010; 9:30 AM ET
Categories:  Research, Student Life  | Tags:  adolescent friendships, adolescents and friends, friends made in school, friends made out of school,, study on friends, study on friendships  
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Correlation vs causation though:

Do more friends in school make higher grades more likely, or do higher grades make in school friends more likely.

Posted by: someguy100 | June 8, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Apart from the correlation v. causation question, I suspect in a lot of cases high grades and in-school friends merely indicate that the student conforms. The ones with learning problems or home environments that interfer with learning also don't fit in with the people around them. And the very bright, or any student in a school that doesn't fit his needs (very artistic in a "back to basics" school, etc.)tend to be bored with school doesn't know of any classmates who share their interests.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | June 9, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

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