What is peer pressure?
Adolescents often times deal with pressures from homework, love, money, parents and teachers. However, one of the things that pressures us the most is how to fit in with our peers. We call it peer pressure. Simple enough, it is exactly what it says pressures from your peers. Peer pressure is when you do something either because they have persuaded you or because all your peers are doing it. Do you remember the last time your parents declined your requests, and you said something like "But everybody has it" or "But everybody does that"? When you say that, you are really saying that you want to fit in with your peers. Parents and youngsters often use the idea of peer pressures to explain the way teenagers behave. Sometimes, it is an excuse for teens to do things they know they shouldn't be doing.
Peer groups are groups of friends who are about your same age. A peer can be anyone you looked up to or someone who has the same ability. A peer could be a school mate, friend, neighbor or even someone on TV. Peer groups play a very important and influential role in adolescents' life. They offer sense of independence from parents. They make you feel good and confident. They offer you information you want on top of their acceptance and approval. Sometimes, it would be easier to conform and do what everybody does, even if you disagree. Having a group of friends and staying popular is the most important part in a teenager's world. It is believed that if you don't act the same way as your peers, you would be outcasted easily. .
Types of peer pressure
We conform to peer pressure because we want to become cool and popular. No human lives completely alone. We are forced to interact with others. That is why we have the desire to gain friendships and acceptance. Peer pressure is not completely harmful. Peer pressure can be a good thing too. There are two different kinds of peer pressure: positive and negative.
Positive peer pressure is how your behavior influences others in a positive way. Peer pressure is positive when it inspires a person to do something worthwhile. Positive peer pressures use encouraging words and expressions. It makes one happy about having friends when group members encourage one another to do the best, cheer for the team, discourage a friend from drinking or doing wrong deeds at a party. Positive peer pressure is the extra push that helps people makes the right decision and behave decently.
Negative peer pressure influences people to make the wrong choices that may result in dreadful consequences. It may involve threads, bribes, teasing, and name calling. It is the peer group that usually introduces teenagers to the thrills of smoking, drinking, sex and drugs. Negative peer pressure is a well known problem of the pre-teen and teenage years as they often adopt dangerous habit in order to prove that they are cool, or that they are not pandering to their parents. This is why so many teenagers turn to drugs, alcohol, smoking or sex for the sake of being popular. Negative peer pressure that mostly affects girls is based on how they look, as most girls feel pressured to look a certain way, whether they are pretty or SEXY.
Why do people give in to peer pressure?
You can learn a lot from your peers. They can help you to do better at school, develop your talents and give you support and motivation to succeed. On the other hand, people often end up doing stuff that is bad for them because of peer pressure. As we become adult, moving away from mom and dad, moving towards adult responsibilities, we want to know that the world likes and accepts us. Therefore, acceptance by the crowd becomes so important for some insecure teens that they will do anything to avoid rejection. They feel trapped and have no other choice. Besides, being part of a group takes away some of the responsibility that comes with making decision.
Moreover, curiosity always trapped us to try something new that others are doing. The idea that "everyone is doing it" may influence some kids to leave the better judgment or common sense behind. Sometimes people are scared they'll be picked on if they don't go with the crowd. Again, eager to be liked, to fit in and become popular, to belong to a group for its social and emotional support, not to been as a nerd are all reasons why people give in to peer pressure.
How to deal with peer pressure
Peer pressure is not all bad, in fact sometimes we do have to "follow the crowd". The trick is learning to tell the difference between following the crowd and blindly following the crowd. Have the strength to say no. Saying no is not as easy as you think. When you are trying to violet the "rules", you will bear the risk of being left out. It takes a lot of courage to go against the tide. But it's worthwhile because it gives you great satisfaction and an important step toward independence and be responsible of your own action. Another way to reject others but to avoid breaking up your friendship is to "go away but leave the door open". When your peers are pushing you to do something that you don't want to, tell them the consequences and suggest another activity. If they reject your suggestion, just walk away, but leave the choice open.
Paying attention to your own feeling and believe. Be confident in your own positive believes. Hang out with someone that shares common believes and interests. Walk away from harmful and negative peer pressure. Although it is hard to walk away, it is not impossible to do so. Sometimes it is helpful to talk to someone else about what you are experiencing and get some advice from them. Or you might be courageous enough to challenge the negative influence your peers are imposing on you. One thing you should not do is bottle up your feelings. You will only feel miserable. A problem shared is a problem solved.
Everyone wants to fit in. But sometimes there is a price to pay. What is accepted by your group may not be right for you. It can even be dangerous. Smoking or taking drugs and alcohol are two examples. They may damage your brain and you maybe paralyzed. Moreover, your peers might force you to do something that makes you feel guilty. Shoplifting is another great example. You might be jailed and will regret forever. When you are pressured by others to do something, before making the decision, think about both the benefit and the cost. Benefits may include acceptance, friendship, and temporary rush. Cost may include punishment from your parents, hurt feelings criminal record, ruining your future and most importantly damaging your health. For most people, it's easy to focus on the immediate benefit while underestimating the cost.
To me, one of the most unacceptable consequences is losing the "genuine self". To remain cool, we have to mask our own identity and forget what really brings us joy. We change our interest and behavior just for the sake of fitting in. So be yourself. Stay strong and resist negative influence. Always go what you know is right and appropriate. Remember, good friends respect your wishes and your individuality. Stand up for what you believe in and you will respect yourself more too.
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