Popular Teens May Face More Problems As Adults, Study Finds

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High school may seem like a popularity contest, but there are perks to not coming in first place. According to a recent study by researchers at the University of Virginia, teens who strive to be categorized as the "cool" kids may experience a range of problems in early adulthood.

The study was conducted over the span of 10 years — from when the teens were 13 until age 23. Those who were classified as "cool" were 40 percent more likely to use drugs and alcohol at age 21-23 than their less popular peers, CNN reports. These same teens were 22 percent more likely to get into legal trouble as young adults.

Because they are always trying to impress their peers, the popular teens continue engaging in extreme behavior, which can lead to trouble. Joseph P. Allen, a professor at UVA and the lead researcher on the study, spoke to the Los Angeles Times about his findings, saying,

These kids are on the fast track, but it's really to a dead end. They are gaining the appearance of maturity, but they are not gaining actual maturity."

Instead of focusing on popularity, encourage your teens to pursue their own interests — regardless of what other kids are doing.

Does this study surprise you? How have you seen popularity impact your teens? Tell us in the comments!