What is peer pressure?
Everyone has peers who can be one’s friends or acquaintances about the same age having similar interests and experiences and involved in similar activities of a community or group.
Peer Pressure is the direct influence of peers on an individual who is encouraged to follow them by changing his/her attitudes, values and behaviors to conform to the standards created by the peer group. It can though result in either a positive or a negative effect or both on the individual in focus. If peer pressure is positive it pushes you to be your best and if it is not it can really take you down enough to destroy you completely. Positive peer pressure is when a friend encourages you to do a positive activity by applying a steady pressure on you so much that you do the thing as asked. But as it is positively shaded you reap benefits from it and it does good to you in one way or the other. Negative peer pressure is when a friend makes you feel that you have to do something to be accepted and as it is a negatively shaded one it can put you in trouble or make you feel bad about doing it as it is against your wishes and value standards. Peer pressure can affect individuals of all ethnicity, ages and genders. Now peer pressure has diversified from a face-to-face interaction to a digital one too. Social media is a platform which has established itself as a good-bad thing altogether for the youth. On one hand it gives a popular platform for everyone to voice out their opinions, right or wrong and to engage in a fruitful and productive manner with the world and it’s issues. But on the other hand it also gives opportunities and valid chances for individuals to instill and experience pressure in a multitude of ways making them do unwanted activities and agree to standards which are totally not up to their measurable standards and conform to their beliefs.
Effect of peer pressure on children
The part imitation has to play in children’s lives is quite big. To acquire skills and techniques and use them in their lives, children are always searching for behaviors to adopt and learn. Children get influenced by people that hold importance in their lives like parents, friends, youtubers, celebrities and favorite people from any walk of life. Children are aware of their positions in the social hierarchy from a nascent age and they have an instinct to defer from adult judgement and opinions of the majority. Children can monitor and intervene in their peer’s behavior by pressure.Children are more easily moulded to do or think in a pre established way without their wish to do so. They can be thrusted with pressure and made to do wrong deeds because they can be turned and twisted the way one wants to. They don’t have the power or choice to think and act the way their hearts want to because they don’t have adequate knowledge and experience to confront with.
Effect of peer pressure on adolescents
Adolescence is the time when a person is most susceptible to peer pressure because it becomes an important influence on the behavior of individuals. Peer pressure has been rightly called a hallmark of adolescent experience. Children who enter this period in life become aware for the first time of the other people around them and realize the importance of perception in their interactions. The pressure of peers is mostly thrusted on the attributes of style, taste, appearance, ideology and values. Peer pressure can have a positive effect when youth are pressured or influenced by their peers for positive contributions and activities like volunteering for charity or excelling in academics. The importance of peers though declines slowly on entering the phase of adulthood. The phenomenon of social acceptance, being the shining star in the crowd may increase the possibility of engaging in risky behavior depending on the norms of the peer group. Because of peer pressure bad habits like drug abuse and alcohol abuse can be initiated which is it’s negative effect.
Types of peer pressure
Peer pressure or influence are of many types and these can have a tremendous impact on a young person’s personality and behavior. It has been proved by research that the most impressionable age for peer influence is the period of adolescence or the middle school years. Because it is the time when a child is forming new friendships, forming his/her independent identity and also coming to know the workings of the world whether good or bad. It is the most common age for kids to start experimenting with alcohol, drugs, sexual activity and more. And very often the drive to engage in this kind of behavior is a result of peer pressure. Some types of peer pressures are—
1.Spoken peer pressure–Spoken peer pressure is when a teenager asks, suggests, persuades or directs another of his peers to engage in a specific behavior. If this is done on a one-on-one interaction basis, the recipient of the influence adheres strongly to his or her core values and beliefs and tries to defend them too. But if the spoken influence takes place in a group there is a lot of pressure to take in for the recipient and then he/she just gives up against the combined wish of the group or circle.
2.Unspoken peer pressure–In this kind of peer pressure, a teenager is exposed to the actions of one or more peers and has to choose whether he/she wants to follow along or have a different perspective. It can take the form of fashion choices, personal interactions, views, beliefs and more. Most of the teenagers lack the mental maturity to control impulses and make wise long term decisions. Because of it, many teens get influenced from older or more popular friends who make them do either good or bad deeds.
3.Direct peer pressure– This type of peer pressure can be spoken or unspoken. Direct peer pressure is normally behavior-centric. Examples of these kinds would be when a teenager hands another teen an alcoholic drink or makes a sexual advance or tries to look at another student’s paper during a test. It is a one-to-one interaction between the recipient and the bully or peer giving pressure.
4.Indirect peer pressure-Indirect peer pressure is similar to unspoken peer pressure but is subtle and can still exert a strong influence on an impressionable young person. When a teen overhears a friend gossiping about another person and then reacts to that gossip it is called indirect peer pressure.
5.Negative peer pressure-If a young teenager is asked to engage in a behavior that is against their moral code or family values, it is a type of negative peer pressure. Teens see the actions of other teens with stronger personalities and hold them as a set standard which is perfect for them. Some of them who disagree are given the options of either following the leader or walk away. Even teens with strong moral values start engaging in behaviors going against their beliefs only to get acceptance. Individuals with lesser skills don’t know what to put forth as an excuse or reason and how to say no to negative peer pressure. They don’t know how to deal with it in the proper way.
6.Positive peer pressure-A dynamic group can be a positive peer influence if the behavior of all it’s members are healthy, age-appropriate and socially acceptable. For eg, if a peer wants to get good grades a young teenager should be influenced to study better. A popular peer who wants to earn money to buy a car should be encouraged to do so along with a less popular one who also wants to become an actor not discriminating between the popularity ratings between them.
Value of parents in a teen’s life
Parents can be the strongest influence in their children’s life if they understand about the types of peer pressures their kid is facing. Parents can really be the table turners for their kids and take them on the right path if gone astray by completing understanding and supporting the situations their kids are passing through and being patient enough. Being supportive,cooperative and considerate are some of the qualities that if imbibed by parents can help them as much as their kids.
How to handle negative peer pressure
An individual should try to take control of the situation gone haywire by following these points—
- You must pay attention to how you feel about a situation. If something feels wrong and not right about a situation it probably really isn’t. It can be okay for your friends but it may not be so for you.So step up to speak up.
- You must plan ahead about how you will respond to different situations. You must plan about what you will say and do listening to your heart better than anyone else.
- You must talk to the person who is pressurizing you and let him or her know how you feel about the situation and tell the person to stop.
- You can maintain a secret code to communicate with parents about your problems you are facing with peers and try to wisely involve them too.
- Be ready to give an excuse. It should be okay to say ‘no’ without needing to apologize or give an accurate explanation.
- You can try to have more friends with similar values and beliefs.
- You can get support from a trusted adult like a parent, teacher or school counselor. A trusted adult can listen to your problems and might help you with strategies that will help you.
As we all have heard, knowledge is power. And understanding a problem makes it much easier to deal with. The same holds true with peer pressure. An individual can handle this situation better if one knows what it is and grasps why it happens and take necessary steps to set things right by doing the right thing which may be listening to oneself or letting a trusted and experienced person make changes to the situations. Lastly it is important for an individual to have a level of knowledge and the courage to stand up to one’s beliefs, actions and opinions without doubting oneself. Because in this tide of life it’s your ship which will take you to the destination however strong the storm maybe. The ultimate power lies in you. To make things, beautify or break them too.
‘YOU ARE THE POWER TO TACKLE ANY OBSTACLE OR MEET ANY MIRACLE.’