Study: Being Only Child, No Social Handicap

Growing up as an only child doesn’t put teenagers at a disadvantage when it comes to social skills, U.S. researchers say.

An Ohio State University study found that schoolmates selected “only children” as friends just as frequently as they did peers who grew up with siblings, a university release said Monday.

A study of more than 13,000 middle and high school students across the country examined the concern that a lack of siblings might hurt children’s social skills.

 “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,” said Donna Bobbitt-Zeher, assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State University.

 “The fear is that they may be losing something by not learning social skills through interacting with siblings.”

 The study suggests that is not the case, she said.

 “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,” Bobbitt-Zeher said.

 “Kids interact in school, they’re participating in extracurricular activities, and they’re socializing in and out of school,” she said.

 “Anyone who didn’t have that peer interaction at home with siblings gets a lot of opportunities to develop social skills as they go through school.”