Why Are Children The Way They Are?

According to a Yale University study, names affect academic success. Supposedly, students with names beginning with C or D have lower grade point averages than students with names beginning with A or B. Then there’s the University of Buffalo study that showed girls with names like Georgia and Virginia were 40% likelier to move to those states. Maybe there should be a study to find out why Isabella finally climbed to the top of the list of most popular girls’ names in 2009, but Jacob has been on top of the boys’ list since 1999 – or is that why it’s called “Jacob’s Ladder”.

When it comes to adolescence, friends affect academic success. In a study published in the Journal of Research on Adolescence, researchers interviewed more than 600 12th graders from ethnically diverse backgrounds. They asked the students questions about their friendships, study habits and how much they identified with school. Adolescents who had more in-school friends than out-of-school friends had higher grade point averages. It seems school friends help shape how adolescents see school. They help create feelings of belonging and motivation. The student/friends feel like they are all in the same boat – or “friend-ship”.

“Helicopter parents” are parents who hover, who are overly protective and who extend their children’s adolescence. A study presented to the Association of Psychological Science associated the children of helicopter parents with feelings of dependency, vulnerability, self-consciousness and less openness. Researchers surveyed approximately 300 college freshmen, rating their agreement to statements such as “My parents have contacted the school to try to solve problems for me” and “My parents contact me every 2 days”. About 10% of the students had helicopter parents – 13% female and 5% male. That the majority of helicopter parents were mothers gives new meaning to “mother-land”.

College students in general are less empathetic than they used to be. According to a study based on 72 previous studies of 14,000 American college students, college students in 2009 were 40% less empathetic then 20-30 years ago. The biggest drop in empathy occurred after 2000 and was attributed to 3 things. One, research showed that exposure to violent video games numbs people to others’ pain. Two, other research showed that college students are addicted to social media, allowing them to tune out others. Three, students after 2000 were products of a fast-paced, hypercompetitive society. Nevertheless, “Generation Me” came from us.

Knight Pierce Hirst has written for television, newspapers and greeting cards. Now she writes a 400-word blog three times a week. KNIGHT WATCH, a second look at what makes life interesting, takes only seconds to read at http://knightwatch.typepad.com
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