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Courtesy of givingcompass.org

Positive peer presure is more common than negative peer pressure, but negative peer pressure has more severe consequences.

What is Peer Pressure and How Does it Affect Students?

The harsh reality of peer pressure is that almost everyone will experience both the bad and good peer pressure. Peer pressure is when the people around you influence your decisions and actions.

Peer pressure varies a lot person by person due to the different surrounding influences. Peer pressure can come from any surrounding influence like friends, social media, family, etc. Social interactions between students are very important to development and mental health, however, the people you surround yourself is just as important.

If you surround yourself with good people, you will generally make better decisions and vice versa. There are two major types of peer pressure, positive peer pressure and negative peer pressure. Counselor Ms. Astle said, “Peer pressure has an immeasurable amount of impact on students because when someone is in their teen years and developing as a person, they often try to replicate what they see and they will look towards other people for answers instead of themselves. Peer pressure gives people the feeling of acceptance among their peers.”

It is very common for young people to look towards other people who are in the same situation. Unfortunately this is not a very healthy action as most people make bad decisions, but because young people don’t know any better, they will decide to join on. There are however, cases in which being influenced by your peers could be very beneficial to the well being of students.

Believe it or not, but positive peer pressure is more common than negative peer pressure. An example of positive peer pressure is when all of your friends are encouraging you to join the debate team to help deal with a fear of speaking to new people. This creates confidence and can lead to positive effects throughout your life.

People are more likely to engage in popular positive events. If something is popular and good, people will feel pressure to do something good and it is popular so it will not be criticized. This creates a positive feedback loop as when more people do the act, more people will see it and would like to engage in it. This is why positive peer pressure is more prevalent than negative peer pressure. Positive peer pressure is more likely to be promoted and passed on and it sets up people for success.

On the other hand negative peer pressure has a bigger impact on young people based on the American Psychological Association because the negative peer pressure effects, they have more long term effects. This is because most of the negative effects are more addictive rather than the positive effects.

Negative peer pressure causes more damage than positive peer pressure positive effects. An example of negative peer pressure is when a friend convinces you to start drinking alcohol. If a student starts drinking alcohol at a young age, it could stunt growth of the brain. According National Center for Biotechnology Information, they say, “Studies reveal that youth who started drinking before age 15, compared to those who waited until they were 21, were 12 times more likely to be unintentionally injured while under the influence of alcohol, 7 times more likely to be in a motor vehicle crash after drinking, and 10 times more likely to have been in a physical fight after drinking.” Most of these negative effects are highly addictive and are spread through friend groups.

This is why it is important to surround yourself with good people. If you spend your time with negative people, you start to inherit the negative effects of those people.

Peer pressure does affect some people very differently. It can be a major part of a kids life, or many people may not even experience peer pressure in a major way.

Freshman Rock Elder said, “It has a very large impact on my decisions. Most of the time, I look at other peoples actions and I will learn from what they do. If it is good, I will try to replicate it, and if it is bad, I will try to avoid it.”

Junior Greta Gorbenko says, “Once I got off of social media, I have not needed to look at other people, but I have been able to make my own decisions and not worry about what other people think of me.”

Everyone will experience some peer pressure, however, it greatly depends on how you react to other peoples actions.  If other peoples actions do not affect you, experience less peer pressure than someone who looks towards other people to make desisions.

First you need to make positive decisions based off of yourself and not the other people around you.”

— Christine Astle, Counselor

As technology advances, we have started to see a new type of peer pressure, social media peer pressure. As teens get access to social media, they start to see people encouraging them to something. They also can see people who are happy on social media and they will try and replicate what they see on social media to try and achieve the same sense of happiness. This new peer pressure is considered to be more severe than the others because it has more influence on younger people and they do generally promote unhealthy behavior.

In a SecureTeen article called, “Peer Pressure and Teens: Social Media is the Culprit” it says, “Going through the Facebook Timeline of friends and seeing them going to late night parties, drinking alcohol, trying drugs, having a physical relationship, etc., make teens feel that everyone except them are enjoying their life. The fear of missing out is so strong that they unintentionally start getting attracted towards these activities.”

Younger people often experience the fear of missing out. If they see that someone is doing something, they fear that they will become obsolete and everyone will join their side and leave them. This causes students to participate in actions and stay involved with their peers. There is positive peer pressure on social media that can spread social causes that were previously unknown. Many charities will run off of social media and will peer pressure people into donating for their cause. If your friends are telling you to donate, you fear that if you don’t engage with the cause, your friends will not accept you. This is different however because lots of people donate without peer pressure while the negatives would die without peer pressure. 

Peer pressure has impacted all of us very differently, however the effects are widespread. The best solution to peer pressure is to make decisions based on your health. Astle said, This allows you to make decisions for your health and well being. Next you need to have the courage to stand against negative actions. This prevents more people to be influenced by the negative actions and can help people already engaging in those actions. Be true to yourself and not other people.”

If you surround yourself with people who encourage positive change and distance from the people that are spreading negative behavior. If we can curb negative peer pressure and create more positive peer pressure, it will help yourself and the people around you for the better.

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