Peer Pressures Can Bend a Teen Until They Break
Peer pressure is something that can affect any teenager during any point in their adolescence. If the cool kids at the top of the pecking order say it’s cool, it is so. The social urge to be cool and widely accepted can be an all too powerful temptation for even the most morally sound and emotionally resolved adolescent.
Teenagers often lack the ability to make decisions based on what is best for their future. Instead, many teens act on behaviors that they feel will benefit them immediately. A typical high school student cares more about what their peers think of them than they do about their post-high school aspirations. Isn’t that a scary thought?
As a relatively young man myself, I remember how hard it was to go against the grain, how painful it was to be viewed as different, and how unjustifiably terrifying it was to feel as though I was different from everyone else. Yes, peer pressure is powerful. Yes, peer pressure is dangerous. And yes… Every child is at risk.
What are some of the most common peer pressures teens face?
As previously stated, peer pressure can be a danger to any teen. The fear of not fitting in is almost an inherent trait that comes along with being a teenager. This kind of fear can lead teens to act on detrimental behaviors.
Here are 5 of the most common peer pressures in today’s youth culture:
1. Experimenting with drugs/alcohol
Drug and alcohol abuse is, perhaps, the most common and feared pressure of all. What parents might not realize, and, something I can honestly attest to, is that use of drugs and alcohol affects teens from all backgrounds. I have personally witnessed friends who were tremendous athletes and academically driven teenagers, get caught up in the drug scene. These friends were ultimately allowing addiction to ruin their lives - The scariest part of this pressure is that drug usage, which used to be a taboo in teenage culture, is now an almost social norm.
Stealing is another activity a teen might be encouraged into participating. The risk of taking something that does not belong to them is, for whatever reason, deemed a ’cool’ risky behavior in today’s teenage culture.
Stealing items which one cannot afford - to further oneself’s social status - is a peer pressure that hits its mark more with teenage cutlure than most people realize.
Unfortunately, bullying has always been and always will be part of teenage culture. It’s better to join in with the bullying crowd than be a victim of their social discrimination. In fact, sticking up for a bullying victim can make a teen a target themselves. This sick way of thinking is what encourages bullying, while actively discouraging any opposition to the bullying itself.
4. Sexual Activity
Sexual activity is a tremendous peer pressure that influences the behavior of both female and male teens. While teenage girls are typically pressured into sexual activities per request of young men, boys are also pressured into acting out sexually because “virgins aren’t cool.”
Teenage boys who are still virgins are viewed as unpopular and too ‘uncool’ to be worthy of the affections from the opposite sex. Therefore, teenage boys are encouraged to lose their ‘v-card’ at the earliest age possible.
5. Any Risky Behavior
For whatever reason, the more risky behavior is, the cooler it is in the eyes of the cool kids. Danger is just an attractive quality to teenagers who are atop of the social hierarchy - this is what encourages those who want to be cool to act on risky behaviors: so that they may impress their peers.
So What Can Parents Do?
Although a teen’s peers may seem to have the upper hand regarding overall influence, parents need to realize they have influence as well. The bottom line: teens hate to disappoint their parents too. This is why laying out consequences that may arise if the teen were to act on peer pressures is a good idea.
Simply level with your child. Remind your adolescent son or daughter that you too were a teen once, and you know how hard it is not to give into social pressures. By being understanding, as opposed to authoritative, you make it all the easier to influence your child’s behaviors.
For Further Reading About Teenage Peer Pressures, Please Refer To the Link Below: