Peer Pressure

Kendall Lee, Journalist

What is peer pressure? Peer pressure is asocial pressure by members of one’s peer group to take a certain action, adopt certain values, or otherwise conform in order to be accepted.” (Dictionary.com) Peer pressure is a powerful force that can morph someone’s attitude, behavior, decisions, and/or beliefs.

Pros and Cons of Peers

Not all peers are bad influences. But sometimes, they can be. Peers are different in many ways because each peer has a different personality and identity. Overall, good peers are a positive influence, and bad peers are a negative influence.

 

Pros on Peers

  1. They can help develop positive habits
  2. They can prevent negative habits
  3. They can give you helpful feedback and advice
  4. They can provide encouragement and comfort
  5. They can increase your number of friends
  6. They can expand your social life
  7. They can help build confidence
  8. They can increase adaptability and flexibility
  9. They can lead you to try new things and find new hobbies
  10. They can lead you to experience new cultures (if you have diverse peers)

 

Cons on Peers

  1. They can lead you to develop negative habits
  2. They can lead you to make morally bad decisions
  3. They can make you ashamed of yourself, your hobbies, your lifestyle, and your family
  4. They can increase the unhealthy wanting of dominance
  5. They can increase mental health issues
  6. They can lead to a loss of identity
  7. They can rob you of self-confidence and self-esteem
  8. They can change your goals
  9. They can divert focus onto something else (alcohol, vaping, drugs, etc)
  10. They can lead you to discriminate against and offend others

 

Peer Pressure at a Young Age

Peer pressure can start as early as elementary school. This is because teasing and bullying can start at a young age. Also, elementary school is when kids start to categorize their peers into cliques and stereotypes. Some kids, for example, may be considered the “cool kids,” and others might be considered as nerds. Children tend to judge people on their looks. 

Though children can begin to be disrespectful and cruel, they can also be very loyal, meaning that they stand up and stick with their group.

But what defines popularity for children? Children in elementary school begin to understand the consequences of straying from the main group of “popular” kids. That’s when the fear of rejection, teasing, and isolation develops. Young kids find it harder to say no, so they might follow bad trends and behaviors.

 

Teenage Peer Pressure

The teenage years are the peak of peer pressure. To be exact, the peak of peer pressure is at the age of 14.

Peer pressure at different ages is like a parabola, with the vertex being at the age of 14, and the peer pressure percentages decrease on either sign.

The teenage years are the start of substance abuse because it seems to be “cool.” Peer pressure can lead teenagers to try vaping, smoking, alcohol, and drugs. Other ways people try to “fit in” are changing how you look, following trends, and using social media.

Ninety percent of teens give in to peer pressure and only 28% of teens say that peer pressure boosted their social status.

 

How to resist peer pressure

Any kind of peer pressure can be hard to resist because of the fear of being rejected, but resisting harmful peer pressure is more beneficial than giving in.

  1. Say no
  2. Stick with morally good friends
  3. Consider the outcomes of giving in to peer pressure
  4. Not everyone is doing it, so you do not have to do it
  5. Seek support from positive influences, such as friends and family

Conclusion

Even though there are some benefits of giving in to peer pressure, the disadvantages are far worse. Peer pressure is the main source of anxiety and discrimination. Peer pressure may not be perceived as an extremely harmful force to many people but it is way stronger than you might think. You may feel like you aren’t affected by peer pressure, but think about it: are you truly okay with showing your true self to the world?