April 4, 2011
Peer Pressure State of Mind
In today's society everyone and everybody are influenced through something known as peer pressure. After doing research, I have come to the conclusion that peer pressure is divided into two parts which is family and school. These two can sometimes cause adolescents to give in to peer pressure and on the importance of social life, a lack of interest or communication on the part of the parents and teachers, and the unrealistic expectations that these entities create.
Although the real reason for attending school is to receive an education, it also provides children with a medium through which they can develop relationships with other children that eventually turn into long term friendships. The ability to form friendships can be traced back to pre-school years, and its importance isn’t done by itself but by eager parents who want their children to fit in at school. In Dr. Juvonens book, he states that, "Interactions with friends or other peers are crucial for the development of a mature morality" (Juvonen 11). So when reading Doris Lessings Group Minds, she also touched on how we as people begin to interact or change a lot when dealing with a group instead of ourselves individually. Lessing said, “When we're in a group we tend to think as that group does: we may even have joined the group to find “like minded people” (Lessing 725). So when a child goes to school at a young age we come in with our own identity until we meet a group and we begin to converge our style to fit in with
the group, so we can become accepted. Dr. Juvonens also states, “The classroom setting represents not only an educational arena but a powerful social context in which the psychological adjustment of children and adolescents can be affected” (Juvonen 248). Teachers tend to promote social interaction by assigning exercises that require working in pairs or groups. Furthermore, when a teacher spots a child playing alone, they will encourage the child to join the other children while overlooking the possibility that the child might have preferred to be alone. Thus, from an early age, children are taught to value the importance of social interaction and this value stays with them as they move into the adolescent years. The result is that adolescents come to value their friendships deeply and in some cases more so than their relationships with family members. Dr. Tate states, “The group develops through casing, limit testing, polarization of values, and positive peer culture” (Tate ).This accounts for the adolescent not being able to refuse their friends for fear of losing the bonds that they have formed and is thus a cause of their greater susceptibility to peer pressure. Which shows that school has become an institution which is also responsible for placing unrealistic goals upon these adolescents, who are only concerned with immediate gratification. Because they cannot yet visualize the long-term benefits of a good education, their goals conflict with those of educators. These conflicting interests eventually lead adolescents to rebel against these unrealistic expectations and thus give in to peer pressure as a demonstration of their rebellion.
A second contribution to the vulnerability of adolescents in the face of peer pressure is the lack of interest or communication on the part of the parents. Reading Csikszentmihalyi's Being Adolescent: Conflict and Growth in the Teenage Years, he states, “Under ordinary
circumstances, parents and children rarely do things together, except at meal times. Ever since work and school have pulled adults and children away from the home, conflicting schedules keep family members circling around each other in eccentric orbits"(Csikszentmihalyi, p.145). If the parents are not around or simply do not show interest in their children's affairs, then it should not be surprising...
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