Peer pressure can be broadly defined as the influence of friends, acquaintances, elders and others on the behavioral pattern of the people, especially adolescent children and teenagers. It typically produces conformity to a particular way of acting or thinking that tends to change the attitude, behavior and moral actions of the person as per the overt and covert edicts of the peer group. Peer pressure is a common factor amongst the people in general and everyone, at some time or other is influenced to some extent by the people or group to which he or she may belong. It is common as social identities are often influenced by myriad issues related to individual ideology, group representation, professional competencies, intercultural/ religious compulsions etc.
Types of Peer pressure
Direct peer pressure is when the members of the peer group openly exhort the teenager to act or behavior in some specified manner. For example, asking members to smoke, take drugs or incite them towards violence.
Indirect peer pressure is self-motivating and teenagers are apt to follow or adopt values and behavior so as to identify with them. Use of smoking and drug abuse is often adopted to boost one’s confidence and become acceptable within the peer group. Imitating peers rather than exercising their own choices leads to low esteem and makes them more vulnerable to anti-social behavior and activities.
Negative impact of PP
When the teenager is persuaded to inculcate habits like smoking, drug abuse, violent behavior etc. under the influence of peer pressure, it adversely influences his developmental processes into responsible adult. Research1 has shown that increasing dropout rates and juvenile crime is directly linked to negative influence of the peer pressure.
Positive impact of PP
Teenagers who are surrounded by high achievers are motivated to excel in their studies and area of core competencies. Positive attitude is highly encouraging to the development of synergistic lifestyle of constant learning. Teenagers in the company of people having high standard, good moral values and positive thinking instill values that withstands them throughout their life. For examples habits of healthy eating, volunteering for good cause, studying hard to get good grades etc.
How to marginalize negative effect of peer pressure
Parents have very important role in negating the unwantedl effects of peer pressure. Parents and the environment within which the child grows up have great capacity to exert positive influence that helps develop the personalities of their children. Facilitating family environment significantly nourishes the inherent tendencies of the children to mature into healthy and happy adults. Positive family relationship inculcates strong sense of emotional security and thereby provides him with the stable environment and positive attitude leading to a more rational approach to the changes that occur in the lives of the persons. Indeed, he or she is better equipped to deal with the adversities because they are secured in the knowledge that no matter what, they would always have the support of their family and with whom they would always be able to share their problems and come up with satisfactory solutions.