What is Peer Pressure?

Peer pressure, which means doing something not because you want to, but because others are doing it, is a phenomenon that starts as early as school. In this article, we give you an idea of what it is, and how it can affect you.
Samantha was all happy and excited to join high school. She was going through mixed emotions, and was wondering how fun-filled her first day of high school would be. She was all set and eager to go to high school. As expected, she indeed enjoyed her new school and friends. She was a bright girl, but slowly her parents noticed that her academic performance was going down, and her behavior in the house too was unusual. Once, her parents even caught her indulging in drugs and alcohol. By the time they noticed that, she had become a drug addict and was soon sent to a rehab center.

What do you think landed up Samantha in this situation? The answer, to put it simply, is peer pressure. It is very important to know about peer pressure, so that you can avoid succumbing to it. In the following paragraphs, we give you the definition and some examples of peer pressure, so you can identify this dangerous phenomenon properly.

Definition

In simple words, peer pressure can be defined as the influence of friends on an individual. Peers, that is a group of friends, generally consist of children who belong to a similar age group. In such groups, children tend to find their own identity, and feel the need of confirming to the majority and norms followed by the majority. It gives them social and emotional security. It is the stage of their personal development, where they like to be accepted and appreciated by their friends. In order to get this feeling of belonging, children indulge in things their peers or group of friends indulge in. In this emotionally insecure state of mind, sometimes, children engage in activities that are not good for their social development. In such situations, they succumb to negative peer pressure, and get engaged in activities such as smoking, drug abuse, and sexual activities, which can have severe consequences on their present and future life. In such situations, it is important for children to be emotionally strong, so that they can stand for what they believe in. At times, peer pressure can be irresistible and appealing but, having control over the mind, and being assertive is essential in order to avoid the ill effects of peer pressure.

Examples of Peer Pressure

Case 1
There is a boy who is intelligent and bright. He attends school every day and never bunks any lectures. But his friends call him a bore and a bookworm. They force him to stop studying and go for a movie with them. They tell him how enjoyable it is to watch films. When he refuses, they start taunting him and call him names. He feels very bad, and decides to join them. Similar events happen frequently, and he soon becomes the 'part' of the group. His academic performance starts degrading. In this case, the boy listens to his friends to avoid taunting and other unpleasant experiences from them. On the other hand, he was also very tempted to watch movies. In order to feel accepted, he joined his friends and followed what they did.

The boy could have saved himself by being assertive. He should have told his friends, that he does not want to bunk lectures and he would join them for a movie after school or on a weekend. By doing this, he would have been able to study as well as enjoy with his friends.

Case 2
A girl who has just joined university, stays in a hostel with other two roommates. The other two roommates are very rich and flashy. They love shopping, dating, and roaming around. All three of them have a lot of fun in the hostel. Soon the girl feels that she should also indulge in shopping and dating. But for all this, she needs money. She starts lying to her parents to get extra pocket money, and compromises with her studies. When her parents refuse to give her extra money, she starts borrowing money from others, and very soon gets trapped in the vicious cycles of debt. In this case, the girl was not forced, but after looking at other friends, she was tempted to have a lifestyle like them.

The girl should have done a clear self-analysis before making unnecessary compromises. She should have controlled her temptation, and not have cheated her parents and other people from whom she borrowed money and never returned. She should have followed her own lifestyle and concentrated on her studies. This would have helped her get a good job and a good future.

From the above examples, you must have understood about peer pressure and how it affects children. Statistics indicate that children as young as 12 years old indulge in drug abuse and violence due to peer pressure. It is high time we all learn about this deadly phenomenon. However, it is not always bad, and can have both negative and positive effects. If you learn some good things from your friends, you can turn it into positive peer pressure, that allows you to compare with your friends in a healthy way, through which you can get inspired to improve your personality. Friends are one of the most important people in our lives, who shape our attitudes, values, perception, and behavior. Instead of blindly following our peers, we always have the option of growing into a socially and morally responsible person.