Teenagers strive to fit in with their peers as they begin to spend less of their free time with their families and more of it engaged in activities with friends. Peer pressure can have negative and positive effects on teenagers. Teens may aspire to get good grades and join a club that a peer whom they admire leads. Teens may also find themselves pressured into doing things, such as drinking or stealing, that they likely wouldn't engage in if they were on their own.
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Lost in the Crowd
In a large group, such as a crowd at school or a sports team, the peer pressure is generally unspoken and directed towards how to dress, how to interact, what music to listen to and what activities to engage in, according to the article "Adolescents and Peer Pressure," published on the University of Michigan website. In a group setting, teenagers can remain quiet or behave as though they are going along with the crowd to avoid drawing attention to themselves. While this can work to some extent, teens must be aware that they can get into trouble just by their association with the crowd in question. For example, if a group of teens are caught vandalizing personal property, the whole crowd may be questioned. Teens may blame each other in situations such as these. Steering clear of these types of situations is a teenager's best defense for staying out of trouble.
Teens may feel the effects of peer pressure more intensely from their close friends due to the fact that they care about them and value their opinions. The pressure exerted from a best friend can feel more personal and forceful than that from a larger group, according to the University of Michigan. For example, if a teenage girl's best friend has joined a new crowd and started smoking, she may have a difficult time saying no if her friend directly pressures her to have a cigarette. She may fear losing her best friend to this new crowd.
For all the negative information about peer pressure, keep in mind that a teenager's peer group is more likely to speak up about something they consider risky or a huge mistake, according to the website TeensHealth. While this may not stop a teen from behaving recklessly, the positive pressure may be present. Peer groups can assist teenagers when making choices, whether about a new hairstyle or the topic of a research project. They're typically there to listen, give advice and offer a much-needed venting session. This can lead to friendships and self-exploration.
Leader of the Pack
Teenagers can set positive examples for each other, and are drawn to other teens who have the same interests and similar academic standings, according to the article "Friendships, Peer Influence, and Peer Pressure During the Teen Years," published on the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, extension site. For example, a teenager who is hesitant about joining the drama club might be more likely to take a chance when pressured by peers. If friends say, "come on, we're all joining" or "you have natural talent. I think you'd be perfect for that role," the teen's confidence may increase.