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Teenagers are under enormous pressure to conform, get social approval, and be loved. The trend has resulted in a shift in the attitude or conduct of responsible teenagers, frequently transforming them into irresponsible adults. Peer pressure refers to an individual's propensity to be affected by those with whom they share social groupings or circles. It entails doing things one would not typically do or making judgments one would not normally contemplate. Peer pressure frequently leads to a modification or adjustment of an individual's values in order to be accepted or appreciated by friends. Depending on the individuals involved, peer pressure can have positive or negative effects.
There are different factors that contribute to peer pressure.
Self-esteem: Self-esteem refers to attitudes or beliefs about oneself. It involves be positive or negative evaluations about an individual’s personality. As a teenager grows, they experience tons of pressure to act and look a certain way. Low self-esteem individuals struggle with feelings of inadequacy and are often unable to say no. As a result, if they are in the wrong company, such individuals may engage in criminal or other self-harming activities (Prinstein and Kenneth 2008). On the other hand, individuals with high self-esteem are able to resist the pressure to conform or seek social acceptance. Such individuals are able to make rational decisions and thus exert control over people or situations around them. Among individuals with low self-esteem, the failure to keep up with their peers could cause depression, anxiety, eating disorders or even suicide if undetected.
Moral thought and behavior: Moral thought sets the base for sound decision making which improves an individual’s ability to resist peer pressure. Among teenagers, the sense of moral judgment could be limited by the need for peer acceptance. Peer acceptance influences a teenagers’ sense of self and sets the base for decisions making. Quite often, teenagers base their decisions on their friends’ opinions, rather than what is morally right or responsible (Prinstein and Kenneth 2008). In this regard, teenagers who are unable to resist peer pressure are more likely to act and say things that are immoral.
Social media: Social media has created a massive platform through which peer pressure and negative influence is exerted. Most often, teenagers have been exposed to inappropriate behavior or language as well as unrealistic representations of life. These unrealistic representations have encouraged irresponsible behavior or decisions due to the fear of missing out (Prinstein and Kenneth 2008). Teenagers are quite often concerned with fitting in and gaining approval from their peers. Therefore understanding peer pressure would help teenagers know how to deal with negative peer pressure.
Family background: A family’s financial or social position determines an individual’s sense of self-worth. As a result, it influences the nature of relationships and their ability to resist or give in to peer pressure. Among teenagers, individuals from poor or low financial and social positions could feel pressured to behave like their counterparts from affluent backgrounds. In these instances, teenagers could participate in seemingly criminal behavior in order to get the approval of their peer (Prinstein and Kenneth 2008).
Ability to socialize: A person’s ability to socialize could affect peer pressure. Teenagers with fewer friends could feel pressured to conform to bad behavior in order to fit into the desired social circle. The pressure to conform could encourage behavioral changes such as the use of drugs or criminal behavior (Prinstein and Kenneth 2008).
Performance at school: When pressured to attain good grades, teenagers with low academic abilities could be susceptible to peer pressure. Such teenagers could seek acceptance elsewhere hence give in to peer pressure. If such a person finds acceptance among peers who fail to attend classes or engage in criminal behavior, they could be unable to resist the pressure to fit in. In the end, peer pressure affects the ability of such students to perform well (Prinstein and Kenneth 2008).
Deepika and Prema conducted a research to investigate the impact of peer pressure on the academic achievements of deviant students by use of questionnaires (2-9). Questionnaires were administered using the direct delivery method. The research utilized purposive random sampling of students from a population of seven thousand, five hundred and forty six. In totality, the sample size of deviant students was one hundred and forty five, from class six to twelve. The study determined peer pressure lowered an individual’s ability to attain good grades. Further, the peer influence resulting in deviant behavior was more rampant among students within the age of sixteen and eighteen year’s bracket (Deepika and Prema, 2-9).
The second research sought to determine the moderating role of parental support and discipline on the use of alcohol by adolescents who are under peer influence. The research used a sample of three hundred children out of four hundred and fifty four from community control programs. The study determined that with consistent social support and discipline, teenage girls were less likely to engage in alcohol abuse as compared to boys. Teenage girls’ interpreted parental support as protective behavior hence were able to resist peer pressure. Boys on the other hand perceived parental support as a threat to autonomy hence were less likely to resist the pressure to engage in alcohol abuse (Marshal and Chassin, 80-88).
The third research was performed to establish the susceptibility to peer pressure with regard to close friendships among adolescents. The research determined adolescent’s susceptibility to risky behavior, friendship instability and depression. A laboratory assessment examined and compared the above to the influence of mothers and peers at age thirteen and fourteen respectively. The study determined that influence by close friends influenced future responses by an adolescent to negative peer pressure. Long-term, the above peer influence culminated into decreased popularity, increased depressive symptoms as well as functioning problems. The study also linked susceptibility to peer pressure to higher levels of substance abuse, sexual behavior as well as externalizing behavior (Allen, Porter, and McFarland 155-172).
Prinstein, Mitchell J, and Kenneth A. Dodge. Understanding Peer Influence in Children and Adolescents. New York: Guilford Press, 2008. Print.
Allen, Joseph P.; Porter, Maryfrances R.; McFarland, F. Christy. "Leaders and followers in adolescent close friendships: Susceptibility to peer influence as a predictor of risky behavior, friendship instability, and depression". Development and Psychopathology. 18.01 (2006): 155-172. doi:10.1017/S0954579406060093. PMC 1557636. PMID 16478557.
Marshal, Michael P.; and Chassin, Laurie. "Peer Influence on Adolescent Alcohol Use: The Moderating Role of Parental Support and Discipline". Applied Developmental Science. 4.2 (2000): 80–88. doi:10.1207/S1532480XADS0402_3.
Deepika K. and Dr Prema N, (2017) “Peer pressure in relation to academic achievement of deviant students.” International Journal of Environmental and Science Education. 12 8 (2017): 2-9. Print
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