Those fluctuating hormones, changes in the thought process, and the emergence of new perspectives and identities make the start of adolescence a particularly vulnerable time, wherein the youth get easily influenced by their peers. This is also a stage in life where fellow groups are of utmost importance and the need to fit in is a primary factor in decision making. The need to fit in generally makes a person give in to peer pressure.
What is peer pressure?
Peers are the people who belong to the same social group, so the word peer pressure refers to the influence of peers on each other. Although peer pressure may not always be harmful, the term "pressure" itself suggests that the process influences people to do things that they may be resistant to, or might not otherwise choose to do. It is the internal or external pressure felt by the youth mostly to behave in certain ways which could be both good and bad. It is considered as a feeling when one has to do something to fit in, feel accepted and respected.
Peer pressure begins as early as age 10 with the forming of social groups in school and increases during adolescence, throughout high school. We all have been a victim of peer pressure, the need to blend into and feel like we are a part of a group.
Types of peer pressure:
Peer pressure can be overt wherein your friends or peers are telling you to do something (e.g., friends making fun of you for not doing what they are doing and calling you by names that have a significant impact on your self-esteem).
Peer pressure could be less direct too wherein you get to know that a friend tried a drug last night and you feel very curious about it and get constant thoughts about trying it. Implicit form of peer pressure includes doing things for fitting in, for making new friends, and getting accepted in a particular group. For example, a girl who thinks getting her hair colour would serve as a status symbol gets it done to be accepted in that ‘cool’ group.
A survey conducted by Parent Further on Peer Pressure stated that-
When it comes to alcohol pressure and other drug use, the other thing to consider is that often students overestimate how many of their peers are drinking or using drugs. Knowing the facts will help you beat the pressure that "everyone is doing it" and you don't have to do it to fit in that particular social group.
Effects of peer pressure
The effects of peer pressure can manifest differently in each person. Peer pressure can play on some of the strengths or challenges already faced by a teenager. For example, a teen with low confidence and few close friends may be more susceptible to the effects of negative peer pressure, while a confident, extroverted teen may be more likely to give and receive positive peer pressure.
Negative peer pressure can encourage teenagers to engage in negative behaviours and habits, such as not attending classes, stealing or cheating, bullying, using drugs or alcohol and defying orders.
Negative peer pressure can also affect mental health. It can decrease self-confidence and lead to poor academic performance, distancing from family members and friends, or an increase in depression and anxiety.
On the other hand, social pressure can affect you in positive ways too. It helps to excel or improve academically, develop leadership qualities, increase self-confidence, promote active participation in extracurricular activities or volunteer for a good cause. Positive peer pressure can foster a sense of belonging, self-confidence, and a solidified sense of self.
Managing peer pressure is usually not a matter of concern if you are surrounded by individuals who share similar beliefs and preferences. However, you will most likely find individuals with different personalities in a college setting. Most of the time you can quickly know where you are and behave appropriately, but sometimes you may feel confused, compelled to do something against your will. Moreover, college may be a time when you are away from your family and your home, with greater independence than you had before to make your own decisions.
Few tips to overcome peer pressure
Nearly everybody has been subject to peer pressure and the most important thing is how you cope with it. There are numerous ways to overcome overt or indirect peer pressure.
Remember that you are important and taking good care of your emotional well-being will enhance your overall well-being. There is no harm in taking help and advice to know more about your personality and the shortcomings. You can attain that happiness and holistic wellness you always longed for, by gaining an in-depth screening for your mental health to know more about the areas to work on. Getting help for effective understanding about yourself through screening summary, using self-help tools, and also availing the option of talking to our experts for more support without compromising on your confidentiality is always available.