Popularity is a … popular topic among preteens. But it’s time to redefine preteen popularity rules. Read on to learn how.
At a family gathering, Bev glanced out the window to watch the children playing. What she saw shocked her. An 11-year-old boy ran up to an 11-year-old developing girl, grabbed her crotch, and ran away. Bev was even more horrified when she realized the incident didn’t faze the girl.
Times have changed. Long ago, boyish pranks consisted of dunking a girl’s pigtails in the inkwell. Even in my day, the most daring thing a boy might do was pop a girl’s training-bra strap.
Boys and Popularity
Speaking to Summit Magazine, Adler says, “For boys, athletic prowess—the ability to play sports—is the number one factor. Then comes a sort of macho-maleness-being tough, defying authority, a little mouthing off.”
Today’s social mores have redefined what’s macho for young boys. As sexual images in the media bombard boys, macho-maleness has become much more sexual. Thus the incident Bev viewed.
Popular boys are required to be tough. “Girls’ roles have changed more than boys’,” says Adler. “They have androgenized themselves more than boys. They can call boys on the telephone and play sports. But boys can’t do anything slightly feminine, or they are severely stigmatized.”
To be popular, it also helps if a boy has “cool” things. (Think the latest shoes and haircut.) Getting good grades, rather than boosting a boy’s popularity, may have a negative effect.
Girls and Popularity
“For girls, appearance is number one,” says Adler. If a girl is pretty by society’s standards and gets attention from boys, she has a better chance of being popular. The second most important popularity factor for girls’ is socioeconomic status.