Peer group pressure among teens
A pre-schooler begging for a specific toy that all their friends already have. A teenager demanding to wear only a certain brand of shoes. These are examples of benign peer pressure as experienced by children and adolescents. Being influenced by others is part and parcel of growing up and finding your place in the world, of establishing an identity apart from the family group you were born into.
This is why peer influence carries so much weight during the teenage years. It plays a huge role in helping a young adult assert who they are and what they are about. Every generation comes with its own vocabulary, fashion, and music as rules for social conformity.
But influences are not always harmless, and can end up negatively impacting a teenager. ‘Hanging with the wrong crowd’ has its roots in the rebellious phase often associated with teens who begin using drugs and alcohol as a means to be accepted by a certain clique. Having a low self-esteem makes a teenager susceptible to this kind of negative influence, and is a common characteristic of those pressured into breaking rules, substance abuse, and participating in sexual activities when they otherwise would not have.
They are more susceptible to pressure by peers because rejection is an alternative they are not equipped to deal with in a healthy way. Being rejected by a group they desire to be a part of could lead to deeper issues, like depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and body dysmorphia. When peer group pressure causes a child or teenager to act out of character in a negative way, endanger their lives or the lives of others, or impacts the overall mental health of the child then it is officially a problem.
Looking out for warning signs like changes in appetite, acting withdrawn, fluctuating moods, and generally displaying traits that are out of character will help by giving you the opportunity to intervene before it is too late. Studies have shown that teenagers with strong support systems are less likely to fall prey to negative influencers than those who are left to navigate the often chaotic seas of young adulthood alone.