Peer pressure is social pressure by members of ones peer group to take a certain action, adopt certain values or otherwise conform in order to be accepted. It could also be seen as an influence of a group that encourages teenagers or people to act in a certain manner, change their attitudes, behaviour and values in order for them to be fully accepted in their group. It is common with the youths because they are the ones who spend more time with their friends or classmates in school.
What is the need for the peer group?
Some people cannot stand alone or can’t stand by themselves, so they search for a group of people that they can be with or they can rely on.
How Did Life Begin?
Forms of Peer Pressure
Peer pressure is all about being accepted by the group. Just like adults, teenagers too get caught in the mesh of this urge to fit in. In the process, they often fail to realise that they might be indulging in activities that they are either directly or potentially harmful to their wellbeing.
There are different forms of peer pressure; direct, indirect and individual. Direct peer pressure is a teenager or group of teenagers actually telling another teenager what he/she should be doing or what is okay to do.
Peer pressure can be positive or negative, but mostly it is negative
Indirect peer pressure is not necessarily verbal peer pressure but optical peer pressure. One teenager who is hanging out with a group of friends who smoke or do drugs are exposed to this kind of negative behaviour and may think it is acceptable. Individual peer pressure is trying too hard to fit in and doing things because other people doing them.
Peer pressure can be positive or negative, but mostly it is negative. Nowadays, peer pressure is portrayed as negative and really has bad effects on teenagers.
Positive effects of peer pressure could include;
- Adopting good habits.
- Exposed to a wide variety of human behaviour.
- The shaping of your personality.
Positive peer pressure can help you reflect on your actions and amend your ways to become a better individual. Observing others working hard to achieve their goals will definitely encourage you to step up your game and strive towards something positive. When a teen knows that his/her team-mates are practising hard to become a better basketball player, then it will directly affect his own performance. He will put in twice the time and energy to raise the level of his game and ensure he has a place in the team. Similarly, a kid who knows that his best friend aces English because he regularly reads storybooks will feel compelled to read as well.
Having a group that exerts positive peer pressure can also help you give up bad habits and pick up healthy ones that can shape both your personality and your future. A change in perspective about life and motivation to do well because of pressure from your peers can actually become an inspiration in that instance.
Positive effects of peer pressure also include doing well in school, eating healthy, exercising, and joining after-school programs and much more.
Negative effects of peer pressure on the other hand include;
Shoplifting: we can hear it on the news, on the radio or television that many teenagers are involved in this crime. They do it because their friends are doing it and they think that is the way to “fit in” the group they want to join. Some do shoplifting because of initiation in the group. Based on what I have researched, initiation is a rite of passage ceremony making entrance or acceptance into a group. Teenagers are now in trouble because of doing this crime. Parents should be aware of guiding their children.
The next is cutting classes, it has to do with education, students are cutting classes because they want to escape school work and do it with their friends, they go to computer shops to play computer games, some go to malls or any other place away from their school. Their parents give them money for school, but they spend it on other things.
Cutting classes is really a bad effect on the student as this can really affect their grades and if that happens it can ruin their studies.
Another negative aspect of peer influence is the possibility of addiction to prohibited drugs, smoke and alcohol abuse. This is the major negative effect of peer pressure on teenagers; it can ruin their lives and their relationship with other people. This happens when their friends ask them to join a party without knowing that there are drugs, alcoholic drinks and smoke involved. Their friends will push them to use drugs or drink alcohol for them to be accepted in the group. If they become addicted to these things, it can really affect their studies and lives. They can have diseases in smoking and it is very hard to cure a person who’s addicted to prohibited drugs.
Peers can influence their friends to do absolutely anything. That is why the majority of teenagers base their decision on their friend’s actions. The more time teenagers spend with their peers, the more they trust them. If a teenager trusts a friend, they will most likely follow that friend’s example.
Many teenagers want to feel accepted by their peers, so they do certain things to try and fit in with everyone else. Teenagers think that by following what their friends do, like smoking, drinking alcohol, they will seem “cool” or they fear that they will look clueless or completely out of it if they don’t.
Although many people think otherwise, peer pressure can affect a teenager by more than just influencing them. Peer pressure can cause depression and doing drugs, drinking alcohol and smoking can lead to life long problems.
Teenagers can begin to feel lonely, helpless and even more hopeless because they realize that their efforts to gain acceptance aren’t working. Teens that feel rejected feel powerless and unimportant. These feelings can trigger depression. Depression can be expressed in anger, agitation and sometimes suicide.
Negative peer pressure has one straight out consequences. As a minor, smoking, drinking alcohol, doing drugs, cutting classes and having sex are all felonies. The teenager performing these acts can be in serious trouble to the point where they can be arrested and put into juvenile hall.
It is true that we can’t live alone or we cannot live without friends, but it is our choice to be on the right path. In order to deal with negative peer pressure first, really think of why you are doing what you are doing. For example, lots of teens smoke because their peers do it. But ask.
We should choose the people who can be trusted and will give us a good influence. We should be strong enough to say no if someone’s asking us to do bad things. Teenagers should be independent enough and responsible. They should always have self-discipline.
Parents should also be responsible enough in guiding their child. They should be aware of what their child is doing and who their friends are.
On a final note, we should know what’s right and what’s wrong. We are the ones who make or mar our future (everyone is the architect of his/her own future), so we should be wise enough in making decisions. We should make the right decisions in our lives so that we can have a successful life in the future.
Written by Maryrose Okuonghae.