To be a member of a peer group is the primary goal of most teenagers during adolescence. The feeling of belonging and social acceptance is very strong at this stage of development. This is why peer influence plays a huge part in steering the experiences and interest of teenagers. When teens are searching for their identity and the concepts that they want to define themselves by, social influences and peer interaction play a huge part in this process. These two factors can help form the teen into what he/she wants to be, or whom he/she fears of being.
Social influence and pressure can lead to behaviors like substance abuse, risk taking, and promiscuous sexual activity. Behaviors such as these can prove to be detrimental to the health of the teenager. On the contrary, there is positive peer pressure also, that is conducive to the development of the teen. For example, teen can influence other teens to get involved in community service activities, helping others, or joining a school sports or academic team.
It is interesting to find that several factors contribute to this phenomenon:
o Fear of isolation o Inadequacy o Shame and ridicule o Instinctual need to bond
When fitting in and being popular is looked at on a universal scale, taking in account multiple ethnicities and male and female gender type, shame and ridicule and its effects play an equal role in the life of adolescents. No adolescent wants to deal with the adverse affects of these factors. So avoidance of such hurt at all cost becomes the primary motive.
To clarify the question, why does peer pressure work so well among teens, lets lay out the points: o Teens are trying to figure out their place in their school or group o Acceptance satisfies a need to belong o Life becomes easier when we act like others
o Teens really care about what their peers and friends think
However, peer pressure has both positive and negative connotations. Peer pressure can generate good, as well as bad habits. Also, peer pressure can help aid in the strength needed to avoid risks to your health.
There are ways to avoid the negative affects of peer pressure and uncomfortable situations.
When your own values are being compromised you might be pressured to do what everyone else is doing. However, you can fight peer pressure and keep your self-respect. You can:
• • • •
Make decisions about your life Say no to the demands of others Respond to people who criticize you or put you down Be different from others
Groups that leave others out and make members conform do not make anyone feel good about him or herself.
You can also handle peer pressure by using the Four
the risk. Know what you are getting
yourself into. o
Define the consequences. Ask yourself what are the
negative things that could happen if you participate in this risky behavior. When you weigh the
consequences against any momentary thrills, chances are you will decide that those are risks you do not want to take. o
Decide what you want to do right now. Hopefully you
will decide to go with the positive alternative instead of the negative.
is the final d, it is having courage to do what is
best for you.
Before other teens try to pressure you into participating in risky behavior, you can take steps to control the situation.
Always remember, the people around shape your personality, so if you do not want to be exposed to negative influences, decide for yourself to avoid groups that are not what you are about.
Also remember, there are ways to make new friends if the ones you are with are forcing you to do something that you do not like.
First, recognize when people make friendly attempts to be friends or just be cool with you.
Secondly, move slowly when making new friends if you are shy or feel a little bit awkward. Try to make friendly conversation whenever you see the individuals you want to be cool with.
• FRIENDS SOMETIMES.
• FRIENDS ARE OUR HOPE. • FRIENDS AND THIN. • FRIENDS CAN HELP US COPE. ARE THERE THROUGH THICK
RESOURCES: Peer pressure links: 1. http://www.ianr.unl.edu./pubs/family/nf211.htm 2. http://kidshealth.org/kid/feeling/friend/peer_pressure.ht ml 3. http://www.doitnow.org/pages/163.html ARTICLES: 1. Kowalski, K. M. (1999). How Peer Pressure Can Affect You. Current Health Magazine. Weekly Reader Corp.