Washington, Aug 3 : Unlike what the majority of teenage movies showcase, all social groups in middle and high schools are not filled with "mean" pupils, says a leading academic.
In her new research, Dr. Natalie Adams of the University of Alabama shares why social groups are so influential in schools and how they create communities and develop social skills.
Adams has also provided some tips to parents of children navigating these groups.
"There are actually many positives to being in social groups during the teen years," said Adams, an associate professor of educational leadership, policy and technology studies at UA.
"Social groups provide a sense of community and support. This is where many people find their life-long friends. These groups also teach basic social skills such as negotiation, compromise, teamwork and communication," she added.
That said, Adams noted that social groups differ from cliques.
"In social groups, members are free to socialize and hang out with others outside the group without worrying about being cast out. They may not do everything together - and that's ok," she said.
"There's a fine line between being a helicopter parent who hovers over their child and makes every decision for them and being an involved parent who allows their children to make mistakes and recognize that those are places and opportunities to grow," Adams said.
She added: "It's not the end of the world if your child is not invited to a sleepover or if somebody says something ugly to your child. These are, in fact, opportunities for your child to grow in character.
"Let you child fight his/her own battles."
Of course, Adams said, parents should not be totally hands-off.
"If the situation crosses over into the realm of harmful behavior - your child is being bullied or hazed - then, as a parent, it is your responsibility to get involved," she said.