60-Second Science

Cool Kids Get Schooled with Age

Kids deemed cool in early adolescence have a poor chance to keep that status by their early 20s, because their behavior gets old. Erika Beras reports 


Here’s something you might have figured out at your high school reunion or by Facebook-stalking your old classmates: being one of the cool kids does not necessarily mean being cool for life. And now, a study in the journal Child Development confirms that suspicion. [Joseph P. Allen et al, Whatever Happened to the "Cool" Kids? Long-Term Sequelae of Early Adolescent Pseudomature Behavior]

Researchers followed ethnically and racially diverse suburban and urban kids from early adolescence to early adulthood. The kids who were deemed cool at a young age were high-status individuals with romantic relationships who broke rules and laws.

But they were no longer viewed that way by peers by the time they were in their early 20’s. The pseudomature behavior that seemed so admirable at a young age lost cache as the other kids gained actual maturity.

Meanwhile, as the young James Deans and Miley Cyruses aged they had to engage in ever-riskier behavior to keep thinking of themselves as cool.

By their early twenties, they were more likely to have drug and alcohol problems, relationship issues and criminal involvement. Turns out being a cool kid has a really short shelf life.

—Erika Beras

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

Rights & Permissions
Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

Starting Thanksgiving

Enter code: HOLIDAY 2015
at checkout

Get 20% off now! >


Email this Article