The paper dwells on the analysis of the positive effects that peer pressure can have on adolescents. At the same time, the negative implications of peer pressure are acknowledged. The influence of peer pressure on teens’ development in various dimensions is discussed. It is noted that such negative habits as smoking, substance abuse, and careless driving can be mitigated with the application of positive peer pressure. The paper also emphasizes the role of teachers and parents in the formation of adolescents’ social interactions. With the help of a carefully crafted approach, it is possible to turn peer pressure from a challenging issue into a beneficial phenomenon.
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Peer pressure can have a significant impact on almost every aspect of a teenager’s life. However, while peer pressure is commonly viewed as a negative phenomenon, it can also have many positive aspects. Peer pressure has the potential to help teens grow as individuals and adopt good habits. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate the positive features peer pressure can enhance, as well as analyze the negative ones that should be eliminated.
Positive Effects of Peer Pressure
Peer pressure as the state of being affected by one’s peers is a focus of research, involving both positive and negative implications. While in the past, scholars mostly emphasized the negative impact of peer pressure, recent studies indicate beneficial effects of such a social phenomenon. The most evident influence of peer pressure is that it helps individuals analyze their habits and reflect on their ways of life. Research indicates that with the help of peer pressure, it is possible to mitigate serious health-related and behavioral problems. For instance, Bilgiç and Günay (2018) report that peer education is a highly effective approach to generating positive behavioral changes regarding smoking in teens. Scholars note that peer education helps to eliminate the use of tobacco by teenagers. Positive peer pressure has also been reported by Goode, Balzarini, and Smith (2014), who found that it could decrease undergraduate drinking. Finally, Alinier and Verjee (2015) report that it is possible to promote driving safety using positive peer pressure. All of these studies demonstrate that following someone’s positive example can help young people to change themselves for the better.
Additionally, peer pressure has a considerable positive impact on young people’s education. According to Baruah and Boruah (2016), teenagers’ brain shows greater activity when they are observed by their classmates. Seeing one’s peers achieve their goals has the potential to make one more persistent and goal-oriented. As Baruah and Boruah (2016) mention, peer pressure can serve as “a powerful source of reinforcement” (p. 241). One of the ways of increasing teenagers’ interest in academic improvement is arranging pair and group tasks where they have to interact and collaborate to reach the best outcome. Additionally, peer pressure can develop young individuals’ understanding of social relationships and can teach them to evaluate others’ ideas, compromise, or refuse to accept some issues. Teenagers’ emotional and social support of one another is revealed through peer communication. Hence, peer pressure can also perform the function of the enhancement of such communication.
The Avoidance of Negative Peer Pressure
Despite several positive effects of peer pressure, there are also negative ones, such as the increase of teenagers’ inclination to careless driving, participation in criminal activity, or engaging in negative health behaviors. However, with the carefully selected strategies, it is possible to avoid such adverse outcomes of peer pressure. Thus, the promotion of enough education and communication regarding the establishment of healthy relationships is essential for teenagers. In this respect, it is necessary to increase the quality of parent-teen relationships, as well as enhance school connectedness (Zhu, Zhang, Yu, & Bao, 2015). A vulnerable group of adolescents is represented by teens with disabilities, who need additional training in handling negative peer pressure (Khemka, Hickson, & Mallory, 2016). By arranging positive relations among teens, parents, and schools, it is easier to avoid adverse implications.
Peer pressure can be both stimulating and discouraging in terms of striving for better academic performance. As Bursztyn, Egorov, and Jensen (2019) report, the establishment of identity among adolescents may trigger both positive and negative effects of peer pressure. The teacher must arrange an environment in which students feel safe and not inclined to give up because of their peers’ mockery. Korir and Kipkemboi (2014) also emphasize the teacher’s role in creating positive peer pressure atmosphere. Finally, the role of the family in avoiding negative peer pressure should not be underestimated (Telzer, van Hoorn, Rogers, & Do, 2018). Parents should teach their children that their behaviors impact others, as well as that they should not be discouraged by others’ negative attitudes.
Peer pressure plays a crucial role in the development of young people’s values, habits, principles, and behaviors. Even though peer pressure is largely viewed as a negative phenomenon, it is impossible to overestimate its positive qualities. Teachers and parents, who perform the function of guidance counselors and behavior regulators, should help teens to make the best out of peer pressure effects on the development of positive features.
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Alinier, G., & Verjee, M. (2015). Encouraging a driving safety culture through positive peer pressure with courtesy. Journal of Local and Global Health Science, 2015(2), 18.
Baruah, P., & Boruah, B. (2016). Positive peer pressure and behavioral support. Indian Journal of Positive Psychology, 7(2), 241–243.
Bilgiç, N., & Günay, T. (2018). Evaluation of the effectiveness of peer education on smoking behavior among high school students. Saudi Medical Journal, 39(1), 74–80.
Bursztyn, L., Egorov, G., & Jensen, R. (2019). Cool to be smart or smart to be cool? Understanding peer pressure in education. The Review of Economic Studies, 86(4), 1487–1526.
Goode, C., Balzarini, R. H., & Smith, H. J. (2014). Positive peer pressure: Priming member prototypicality can decrease undergraduate drinking. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 44, 567–578.
Khemka, I., Hickson, L., & Mallory, S. B. (2016). Evaluation of a decision-making curriculum for teaching adolescents with disabilities to resist negative peer pressure. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46(7), 2372–2384.
Korir, D., & Kipkemboi, F. (2014). The impact of school environment and peer influences on students’ academic performance in Vihiga County, Kenia. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 5(1), 240–251.
Telzer, E. H., van Hoorn, J., Rogers, C. R., & Do, K. T. (2018). Social influence on positive youth development: A developmental neuroscience perspective. Advances in Child Development and Behavior, 54, 215–258.
Zhu, J., Zhang, W., Yu, C., & Bao, Z. (2015). Early adolescent Internet game addiction in context: How parents, school, and peers impact youth. Computers in Human Behavior, 50, 159–168.