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Teens' Friends Can Influence Their School Performance

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 13 (HealthDay News) -- High school friendships can influence students' academic performance and progress, according to a new study.

When surrounded by friends with a higher grade point average, teens have a tendency to perform better and boost their own GPA during the school year.

The opposite is also true, researchers cautioned: Students whose friends had a lower GPA were more likely to do worse in school over time.

"While most educators already know the importance of social environment for a student's academic success, our study presents the first quantitative supporting evidence for such empirical knowledge," the researchers wrote in the study published Feb. 13 in the journal PLOS One.

The researchers from Binghamton University and Maine-Endwell High School, in New York, asked 11th-grade students to divide other students into one of five groups: best friends, friends, acquaintances, strangers or relatives. The students' academic performance was then tracked in relation to their social network.

Students whose friends were outperforming them in school were more likely to improve their own test scores, according to a journal news release. On the other hand, students whose friends had lower GPAs were more likely to have declining test scores.

This link was strongest between students and those they categorized as their friends. The association wasn't as strong among students and their best friends or acquaintances.

Previous research has shown that students' social groups can influence obesity as well as their emotional state and behavior, the release noted.

More information

The Nemours Foundations provides tips for teens on school success.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: PLoS One news release, Feb. 13, 2013

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