Peer pressure denotes the direct influence on a person by his/her peers through following their conduct, attitudes, and ways (Black, Devereux, & Salvanes, 2013). It varies from social influences as it makes a person change his/her approach or behavior with respect to the influencing individual or group. Peer pressure has been found to influence any person regardless of age, gender, or ethnic background. Other than negative influences such as drug abuse and gang violence, peer pressure might as well result in positive behaviors, for instance, the motivation for hard work or charitable endeavors.
Most Affected Stage
Though the impact of peer pressure can occur at any age, adolescence is the stage at which people are especially vulnerable to such impacts, as at this point peers are highly important in one’s life, hence, may easily influence one’s behavior. Peer pressure is usually linked to the occurrence of negative behavior in adolescence since such conducts are common among peers. Connection with friends who take part in risk behaviors has been established to be a powerful predictor of conduct in the teenage years. The significance placed on peers has been found to decrease as a person enters adulthood, and so does peer influence. Peer pressure has mainly been associated with adolescents engaging in drug abuse and gang violence out of the yearning to fit in with peers and do the same things they do (Dumas, Ellis, & Wolfe, 2012). Nevertheless, though peer pressure plays the greatest role in the occurrence of such negative behavior among adolescents, poor self-worth, and the need to feel safe, also act as contributing factors.
Effects of Peer Pressure
Apart from negative behavior, peer pressure may also result in constructive impacts the moment teenagers get influenced by their peers towards positive conduct, for example, engaging in charitable tasks and working hard to excel in schoolwork or sports. According to studies, many adolescents are convinced that joining peer groups and seeking to outshine their friends in whatever task will make them popular (Bonein & Denant-Boèmont, 2015). In this regard, the average adolescence draws pressure from school, friends, or parents, which elicits the desire to belong to at least one group. In most instances, peer groups take part in violence, burglary, alcohol consumption, robbery, smoking, substance abuse, and premarital sex. It has been established that teenagers spend most of their time with peers rather than parents or other adults. In this regard, the adolescents who develop either positive or negative behavior stay clear of opposing groups and find the ones who propagate comparable actions.
Handling Peer Pressure
Since most of the contemporary families are headed by single mothers who engage in extra jobs, children spend much time with friends, and this leaves them susceptible to negative peer influence. If teenagers are made aware that social interrelations are vital but just to a given level, they will have the ability to steer clear of negative behavior. On the same note, if educators and parents find adequate time to communicate with children, adolescents will have a high probability of sharing their feelings to get assistance instead of relying on their friends for guidance. This will make teenagers develop a better understanding of the meaning of friendship. Most importantly, the adolescents will become less vulnerable to the traps of peer influence, which will boost their chances of becoming respectable persons later in life (Chan & Chan, 2013).
Peer pressure signifies the influence on people by their peers through following their behaviors, attitudes, and practices. Peer pressure has been found to result mainly in negative behavior among adolescents. In this regard, both parents and teachers have a crucial role to play in ensuring that teenagers avoid negative peer pressure.
Black, S. E., Devereux, P. J., & Salvanes, K. G. (2013). Under pressure? The effect of peers on outcomes of young adults. Journal of Labor Economics, 31(1), 119-153.
Bonein, A., & Denant-Boèmont, L. (2015). Self-control, commitment and peer pressure: A laboratory experiment. Experimental Economics, 18(4), 543-568.
Chan, S. M., & Chan, K. W. (2013). Adolescents’ susceptibility to peer pressure relations to parent–Adolescent relationship and adolescents’ emotional autonomy from parents. Youth & Society, 45(2), 286-302.
Dumas, T. M., Ellis, W. E., & Wolfe, D. A. (2012). Identity development as a buffer of adolescent risk behaviors in the context of peer group pressure and control. Journal of Adolescence, 35(4), 917-927.