I had been conducting online training for students’ through Zoom and Google Meet since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. During the Q&A sessions, many students asked me how to manage peer pressure effectively. So, I thought it would be good to share with you my thoughts on how to deal with peer pressure.
What is Peer Pressure?
Peers are people who are part of the same social group, so the term “peer pressure” means the influence that peers can have on each other. The term “peer pressure” is not usually used to describe socially desirable behaviours, such as exercising or studying. If you’re with friends who are doing something that you typically would not do and they convince you to do what they are doing, that is an example of peer pressure.
Peers play a great role in the social and emotional development in young people and adolescents in every society. Their influence begins at an early age and increases through the teenage years. It is natural, healthy and important for young people to have, and rely on friends as they grow and mature. Below are different types of peer pressure:
1. Positive Peer Pressure: Peers can be positive and supportive. They can help each other to develop new skills, or stimulate interest in books, music or extracurricular activities. A group dynamic can be a positive peer influence if the behaviours are healthy, age-appropriate and socially acceptable. For instance, if a peer group wants to make good grades, a young teen can be positively influenced to study. Or if a popular friend wants to earn money and save to buy a bike, a less outgoing teenager may also be influenced to get a part-time job and open a savings account. If members of the football team take a pledge to abstain from drinking alcohol to focus on staying healthy and having a winning season, other students may adopt the same behaviour. Such positive influence needs to be encouraged.
2. Negative Peer Pressure: Negative peer pressure can be very daunting and traumatizing for young people. They can encourage each other to skip classes, steal, cheat, use drugs or alcohol, share inappropriate material online, or become involved in other risky behaviours. The majority of teens with substance abuse problems begin using drugs or alcohol as a result of peer pressure. This pressure can happen in person or on social media.