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Hanging out with academic friends makes kids smarter

india Updated: Feb 26, 2013 19:16 IST
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Clever is contagious and “hanging out” with like-minded academic achievers will boost your brainpower, a new study has suggested.

Parents need to understand that their children''s friends have more of an impact on their attitude than they think, said Child psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg.

“You are who you hang out with,” the Daily Telegraph quoted Dr Carr-Gregg as saying.

According to Dr Carr-Gregg, if an average kid associate with others who love learning and going to school, then they are more likely to become smarter.

Conversely, he said, parents will have a tough time encouraging their children to study if they hang out with kids who don''t value school, are disinterested and disrespectful.


He said academic children would even go to the extreme of pretending to be dumb in order to fit in with their friends.

“They will dumb themselves down to be accepted,” he said. “It''s not just a case of smart kids attract smart kids - if you have an average kid, they can be dragged down, or become smarter, depending on who they hang out with,” stated Dr Carr-Gregg.

US researchers gave 16- and 17-year-old students a list of participants and asked them to mark each as a friend, best friend, acquaintance or stranger.

One year later, the researchers compared the pupils'' marks over the preceding 12 months with their social network and found a strong link between friendship and the rise and fall of their academic performance.

The research - detailed in PLOS ONE journal - showed an acquaintance''s success or failure had less impact than a friend''s, however friends were more influential than those listed as best friends.

Dr Carr-Gregg said although parents may be able to vet their children''s friends when they were younger, the chances of successfully socially engineering their social groups became harder as they grew up.