For years, psychology researchers have treated peer rejection and social network isolation as being somewhat interchangeable when it comes to early adolescence; it was thought that if kids fell into one of those two groups, they fell into the other. A recent study finds there is actually little overlap between the groups – and socially isolated kids face different risks.
“Broadly speaking, there are two types of socially marginalized groups in early adolescence,” says Kate Norwalk, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of psychology at North Carolina State University. “There are kids who face peer rejection, meaning they are disliked by other kids; and there are kids who are experiencing social network isolation, meaning they don’t have a group of friends. Historically, I think researchers have treated these two groups as being the same.