Peer pressure is the pressure of people around you such as friends, colleagues, etc. According to a statistics by Parent further, 90% of teen agers reported that they feel peer pressure upon them. The responses to this pressure can be either swallowing in or resistance, each having its own pros and cons. This constant pressure has a lot of negative effects on people academically, behaviourally, emotionally as well as physically. These include lower grades, involving in drugs and alcohol, doing sex or sexting when one’s not ready, etc. However, in some peer groups, this pressure can be positive as well allowing people to grow in life.
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I am Mehak Kalra and in this blog, I am going to talk about peer pressure, its types, causes, and how it works. With this, I will also elaborate, out of my own views and some research, as to what are its different effects on people and what should be the approach while being in this peer pressure and if it can be anyhow beneficial.
“It’s just one puff.” a sixteen year old boy said to one of his friends, who is reluctant to do any such adventures which he should not.
“And here’s my vodka. Oh, you don’t drink, right? Waiter, a glass of water for him.” said a twenty-two year old to one of her friends who was the only one in their group of 5 who hasn’t ever drank alcohol.
“Look at that boy, he has a cycle. He doesn’t even own a scooter.” said a teen age boy to his group. Another boy went home and insisted his father buy him a scooter so he can get in that boys’ group.
“I just hate people who wear a lot of makeup. Like, what’s the matter with them? Why can’t they stay simple.” said a girl in her office to her group to which another girl, who loved to do makeup and getting ready replied, “Yes exactly, why so extra?”
All these people had their own choices, which directly or indirectly got influenced with the choices of others. In simple language this is what we call ‘Peer pressure.’
But who are peers? Let’s know
Who are Peers?
The people you are with, the decisions they make, the choices they opt for, the values they carry, the ethics they follow, the lifestyle they live, have a great influence on you. These people are often peers, who beyond influence, sometimes also exert pressure to opt for the same choices and same lifestyle. This influence by peers can have a lot of repercussions and ramifications.
Sociologically, peer groups are the groups whose members have the same age, interests, background, social position as you. The members of these groups are called Peers. They may be your schoolmates, college mates, your friends, colleagues, competitors, etc. Most of the time of peer groups is spent together and therefore, they tend to influence each other a lot. This may be good as well as bad for the members collectively or individually. This depends on how much pressure people feel to accept or deny the decisions and choices of their peers.
But, what causes this peer pressure?
What causes Peer Pressure?
Peer pressure is the influence on the choices of people by their peers that lead to their changed behaviour and opting for activities that do not conform with their ethics, values, or conscience.
This is the stress whose reason, many times, remains unrecognized. However, it is caused by the peers’ choices and decisions and their influence on you to do something which you don’t like. Most people don’t want to feel left out from their peer group. Especially teenagers are really conscious about what other people, especially their friends think of themselves. They are highly induced to make choices as their friends, which makes them look cool.
This all exerts pressure on the people to make different choices. These choices can change the lives of people as well.
Let’s see some effects of Peer pressure.
Responses to Peer Pressure
There are generally two responses to peer pressure.
1. Swallowing in
You swallow in when you agree to the choices and decisions of peers in lieu of one’s own choices. People often opt for this choice to fit in the group and not be mocked by everyone. It may give happiness and a sense of belonging in the short run but continuously giving in under peer pressure leads to loss of self-confidence. It crumbles the person under the opinion of others and he never tries to stand for his own opinion.
Resisting refers to standing up for one’s own decisions and choices instead of following others, when one doesn’t want to. It makes people raise others as contradictory beings which never works in peers. Thus, it may leave people alone or left-outs. It may be hard and stressful initially but in the long run, it satisfies the person and helps in building confidence as well as opinions. It can also be referred to as getting out of the pressure of peer pressure.
Effects of Peer Pressure
Peer pressure can lead to some drastic effects. According to Canadian Lung Association, 70% of teens said that the reason for them to start smoking was peer pressure. In similar lines, there are many mental, physical, emotional, academical, social as well as behavioural effects of peer pressure.
1. In school and college
Constant peer pressure brings a lot of change in the sphere of school, college, and friends. Children tend to opt for the choices that make them likable by friends, irrespective of how it is going to affect their studies and grades.
Its effects include:
- Lower grades
- Skipping classes
- High stress level
2. In Society
The societal changes brought by Peer pressure are more drastic and dangerous. It may harm the lives of people. People, to look cool or fit in their peer group with such choices, take up such activities, irrespective of what they want.
- Use of drugs and alcohol
- Sexting or having sex
- Rash driving incidents
3. In Personality
Peer pressure has a visible change in the personality of people. For instance, peers with branded shoes dominate the thoughts of regular shoes. Upon this, if peers start talking about how they can’t wear regular shoes create pressure on other peers which brings a change in their way of thoughts.
In personality, the effects which can be seen are:
- Negative attitude and behavior
- Self-doubt or low self-esteem
- Poor decision making
4. In family
- Distance from family
- Lying often to parents
- Relationship problems
- Constant Arguments
5. Physical Effects
The mental effects of a situation easily turn into physical effects. This is often the result of constantly resisting or swallowing in to peer pressure. In the long run, swallowing your opinion has though more drastic effects but resisting can also bring changes as it leaves people left out from the peer group. The most common effects include:
- Mood change
- Eating disorders
What should be the approach?
Peer pressure shouldn’t be the cause of stress upon people of any age, but it is also to be considered that it is inevitable in these times. Nowadays, there is a lot of difference in the status, thoughts, and brought ups of people, which creates contradictory views and choices. The dominating ones or majority ones continue exerting pressure on other peers. However, there can be an adequate approach to such pressure. Here, I am listing some measures that can help to cope up with the stress.
1. Learn to say No
Saying No can be hard at first but it gives constant self-confidence. It makes you make a choice and lets you stick to your own thoughts and values. This will help you, in the long run, to believe in yourself.
2. Follow what you really feel
Listening to your inner core helps in laying off the pressure of other people on you. You must ask yourself first, what do you want and not what others are expecting or doing. This clears the mind and helps in making choices.
3. Talk to parents or elder ones
Sometimes, people start getting away with the pressure a lot and this leads to great mental disorders. At that time, the best you can do is talking to your parents or any elder people who may guide you to choose between what is right and what is wrong. Their support is what you have been seeking.
4. Have effective communication
Communication is the key to any problems between friends, family, relationships, etc. A clear talk of what you want, what you like, and what you can do is what can help a lot in releasing any such pressure on you. So, you should try talking to peers about the reason for your choices.
5. Respect others’ opinions
Whether you are feeling any peer pressure or you may think someone else might be feeling it, one thing you must take care of is respecting other people’s choices. They may like or not like what you are doing, but their choices don’t make them any less to be with you or in your group. Respect your opinions as well as other people’s.
These measures will give you a positive and calm approach towards life and people. Society is about cooperation and acceptance and not about constantly criticizing and rejecting others. No one ever has gotten the supreme right to rule other’s thoughts. Neither do I, nor do you.
Are there any benefits?
Peer pressure works two ways: Positive and Negative. This means it makes you sink deep in the ground or can either lift you up and make you touch the sky.
When the peers motivate each other to do something good for themselves, it is referred to as the positive effect of Peer pressure. When the topic of discussion and boast is the achievements and success, the group becomes a better place to be in. The positive effect of Peer pressure helps people in achieving the growth they have been seeking for themselves for so long.
It may lead to improvement in grades, starting a business, getting into some fruitful activities, spending more time with family, etc which can change their life as a whole and make it a lot easier for them.
Therefore, it is better to discuss the beneficial stuff in the peer groups than to boast about how many shots one can have in one go.
It is beneficial to talk about how you have been using 10 hours of your day than to boast about how you spent 16 hours sleeping.
Hey Peers, which means everyone since you are Peer of someone and someone is your peer, you need to realize how everyone’s choices are as important as yours. If you are criticizing someone or mocking someone in public to do what they don’t, remember it’s their own choice and their deviated choice doesn’t make them any less. While, if you are feeling some kind of pressure, remember it’s your ultimate peace that matters, not them. Peer pressure is a kind of fictitious pressure that is caused by thoughts only. If you don’t want to feel it, you won’t feel it. However, it is true, it is not that easy to relieve yourself off that stress but once you become shameless, you’ll find yourself in a better place.