Social Networks of Children, Adolescents, and College Students

By Suzanne Salzinger; John Antrobus et al. | Go to book overview
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and relationships, ability to form attachments with play group members), or the play groups (e.g., nature of the social experiences that occur, and degree to which they help to prepare children for the school environment). Further research and replication are needed to clarify the meaning and validity of these findings.

Contrary to expectations and past research (i.e., Ladd, 1983), a negative relationship did not appear between the proportion of younger children in the child's network and their classroom social or school adjustment. However, the present findings do suggest that older, more experienced network companions may facilitate school adjustment for younger preschoolers, perhaps by serving as role models or socializers prior to and during this transition. For older preschoolers, it would seem that ties with same-age companions are associated with social and school adjustment, possibly because the social competencies required of children at this age tend to be acquired in more egalitarian, symmetrical relationships ( Hartup, 1983).

As far as older preschoolers are concerned, the present data does suggest that classroom adjustment is positively related to the proportion of sameage companions and negatively related to the proportion of older companions in the nonschool network. Perhaps networks comprised largely of same-age companions enhance children's opportunities to learn and develop ageappropriate social skills, whereas networks comprised primarily of older children inhibit this process. Furthermore, differences in children's ability to relate to agemates, perhaps as socialized in nonschool networks, may have an impact on their success with peers in predominantly age-segregated classrooms.

Finally, our results also indicate that older preschoolers who spent more time playing in network members' homes tended to have higher levels of classroom acceptance (as judged by peers) by the middle and end of the school year. This finding is consistent with the premise that experience in different social systems and surroundings (e.g., the families and homes of network members) may help to prepare children for many of the interpersonal demands of school.


REFERENCES

Asher S. R., Renshaw P. D., & Hymel S. ( 1982). Peer relations and the development of social skills, In S. Moore & C. Cooper (Eds.), The young child: Reviews of research (Vol. 3, (pp. 137-158). Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Asher S. R., Singleton L. C., Tinsley B. R., & Hymel S. ( 1979). A reliable sociometric measure for preschool children. Developmental Psychology, 15, 443-444.

Becker J. M. ( 1977). A learning analysis of the development of peer-oriented behavior in 9- month-old infants. Developmental Psychology, 13, 481-491.

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