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You probably started curating your social rep before Instagram existed—and it might be a good thing


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Whether you’re searching the perfect filter or building relationships with other people in your community, curating your social reputation is no easy feat—and it’s likely that you started working on it long before Instagram made it “a thing.” According to new research, kids start caring about their reps at as early as 5 years old.

It might be hard to believe that seemingly carefree mini humans are bothered by what others think of them—in fact, Ike Silver, review co-author and doctoral student at the Wharton School of Business, told Time that kids were previously thought to be too young to make such complex social calculations. But according to the research, wee ones are totally aware that they’re being watched. This can lead them to act more generously, perhaps because they want to impress someone they know they’ll see again in the future or they want their classmates to think highly of them.

“It really does seem to be that around age 5, we start to engage in behaviors that require certain kinds of problem-solving: being able to think about, ‘If this person sees me doing X, what will they conclude about me?'” —Ike Silver, researcher

“It really does seem to be that around age 5, we start to engage in behaviors that require certain kinds of problem-solving: being able to think about, ‘If this person sees me doing X, what will they conclude about me?'” Silver said. “We don’t know to what extent those questions are answered consciously, but we know they must be able to answer them.”

Now if you’re getting a little sad knowing that kiddos already care so much about what other people think about them, don’t: It’s probably a good thing.

“[Kids care what others think], and that can be a powerful tool for mind-reading and developing relationships, which can be a positive thing.” —Silver

Silver added that understanding how your actions impact the way others view you notes the ability to be considerate and act with empathy and compassion. “[Kids care what others think], and that can be a powerful tool for mind-reading and developing relationships, which can be a positive thing,” he said

So, even though kiddos might not be on the ‘gram just yet (should someone start an initiative to preserve innocence through elementary school?), give them some credit: Everyone knows playground street cred is not for the faint of heart.

Here’s why difficult kids make great leaders. Or, check out how one fitness boss talks about exercise with his kids.

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