At one point in life or another, everyone has faced peer pressure to do one thing or another. You may not have liked the activity you engaged in but chose to do so because of validation from your peers.
The word “peer pressure” basically means pressure from your peers. Peers in this case could be your mates and colleagues. Usually, the term is used when people talk about unusual and unacceptable behaviors, such as experimentation with alcohol or drugs.
Who does peer pressure affect?
Peer influence is a way to describe how teenagers’ behaviors are shaped by wanting to feel they belong to a group of friends. It is when someone chooses to do something they wouldn’t otherwise do because they want to feel accepted and valued by their friends.
Peer pressure is popular among teenagers and pre-teens. This is because they are at a crucial time of their life and seek validation from their friends. Unlike adults, they crave to be popular and don’t want to stand out from society. Their reasons could be that they don’t want to be a “buzz-kill” or “kill-joy”.
Some say that peer pressure could also be positive. For example, someone might be influenced to try new activities, or get more involved with the school.
SEE: Corporal Punishment and Child Abuse: Where to Draw The Line
What are examples of peer pressure?
Things people may be peer pressured into doing include;
- Bullying others
- Drug usage
- Dressing inappropriately
- Drinking alcohol
- Engaging in vandalism or other criminal activities
- Having inappropriate sex at a young age
- engaging in dangerous fights
- Only socializing with a certain group
- Having inappropriate weapons
People can also feel internal pressure to participate in activities and behaviors they think their peers are doing, which can put them at risk. These are;
- Internet and social media addiction
- Sex addiction
- Video game addiction
SEE: Social Media: Is it Social Enough?
Is there peer pressure beyond childhood?
You may not know but adolescents can be vulnerable to peer pressure because they are also at a stage of development. They are moving away from their parents and would be establishing their values. It is a critical time in their life.
These people are also typically striving for social acceptance and are more willing to engage in behaviors against their better judgment to be accepted.
READ: Popular Nigerian Childhood Myths
What strategies can help handle negative peer pressure?
We believe that peer pressure can be avoided. Although, when you resist doing something from your peers, it exposes you to a problem – most times, it is bullying and condemnation.
READ: Abortions in Nigeria
Here are strategies;
- It is important to pay attention to how you feel. If something doesn’t feel right about a situation, it probably isn’t. Trust your gut.
- Think about how you will respond in different situations. Plan what you can say or what you can do. that might work in your situation.
- Talk calmly to the person who is pressuring you, let him or her know how it makes you feel, and tell the person to stop.
- You can also trust your parents and communicate with them about the rough time you’re going through. You can also get support from another trusted adult such as a teacher, or school counselor. They can listen to you and help you with strategies
- Give an excuse, although this may not be very good because they may wonder why you keep on doing so. Perhaps saying you have a medical reason such as asthma or allergies that makes it dangerous for you to take anything.
- Most importantly, have friends with similar values and beliefs. This would make the pressure of belonging reduce. If you have your clan, you may not strongly want to belong to the bad guys.
Peer pressure and influence might result in many things such as addiction and also medical problems.
Everybody experiences peer pressure at some point in their lives. It takes practice standing up to peer pressure and being true to yourself.