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