COLUMBUS, Ohio Growing up without siblings doesn't seem to be a disadvantage for teenagers when it comes to social skills, new research suggests.
A study of more than 13,000 middle and high school students across the country found that "only children" were selected as friends by their schoolmates just as often as were peers who grew up with brothers and sisters.
"I don't think anyone has to be concerned that if you don't have siblings, you won't learn the social skills you need to get along with other students in high school," said Donna Bobbitt-Zeher, co-author of the study and assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State University's Marion campus.
Bobbitt-Zeher conducted the study with Douglas Downey, professor of sociology at Ohio State. They presented their research Aug. 16 in Atlanta at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.
The concern that a lack of siblings might hurt children's social skills has become more significant in recent years, Bobbitt-Zeher said.
"As family sizes get smaller in industrialized countries, there is concern about what it might mean for society as more children grow up without brothers and sisters," she said.
"The fear is that they may be losing something by not learning social skills through interacting with siblings."
In fact, a 2004 study by this study's co-author, Douglas Downey, did find that children without siblings showed poorer social skills in kindergarten compared with those who had at least one sibling.
This new study was designed to see if that advantage to having siblings persists as children become adolescents.
Data from the study came from the National Study of Adolescent Health (ADD Health), which interviewed students in grades 7 through 12 at more than 100 schools nationwide during the 1994-95 academic year.
ADD Health used an innovative way to examine friendship among these students: each student wa
|Contact: Donna Bobbitt-Zeher|
Ohio State University