The definition of peer pressure has remained the same: a feeling that one must do the same things as other people of one’s age and social group in order to be liked or respected by them. This can be negative or positive.
The way teens are pressured negatively has changed significantly over the decades. The internet is forever. In the digital age, the result of peer pressure can have lasting consequences. Below is a comprehensive guide for parents with vital information to help teens and speak to them about peer pressure.
Effects of Social Media & Why It Can Lead to Peer Pressure
Social media induces peer pressure through behavioral displays and reinforcement. It then amplifies social desirability. Because the teen brain is actively developing, they are more likely to partake in risky behaviors, which they may have observed on social media platforms.
Every action on social media leaves a robust digital footprint. For example, rejection or negative comments received by peers can be permanent. There is a legitimate fear that ten years later, they could be judged for something they did or said online. It is by these actions they are pressured to conform to their peer groups.
Not only are teens targeted by their peers, but social media influencers can also worsen this peer pressure. Marketing firms specifically target teens because of how easily influenced they are. Decisions are now primarily affected by social media influencers. Individuals sharing their personal experiences have become the most effective advertising technique.
The problems emerge because teens cannot differentiate between commercial and personal opinions. Because every person with a smartphone has a voice, it often leads to hateful comments, trolling, and cyberbullying. Teens begin to feel they cannot live up to societal expectations and can no longer face rejection. As a result, they give in to peer pressure.
Tips for Parents to Handle Peer Pressure From Social Media
There are many approaches that parents can take to talk about peer pressure from social media. Ideally, any strategy should foster open communication and provide support. Consider the following tips:
Initially, make sure they know they can talk to you. Never brush aside any conversation, listen to their opinions, answer their questions, share personal experiences, avoid lecturing, and always make yourself available. Doing this will ensure they know they can come to you at any time and know you are the person they can talk to.
Encourage them to challenge anything that feels wrong. Teens may often not speak about moral dilemmas and may cave to peer pressure. When parents can encourage them to talk about situations that feel wrong, it will lead to solutions to resolve or avoid the problem altogether. As a result, they become more confident in challenging these situations.
Pay attention to changes in behavior and mood. Parents need to speak with their kids regularly and understand what sort of content they are consuming. What they see on social media directly impacts their mood, behavior, and actions. Ask them questions about the content, and gain an understanding of why they like it. In addition, set ground rules and screen-free times in the home.
Negative peer pressure leads to harmful consequences, legally, emotionally, and financially. Teens who know the consequences of peer pressure are more likely to avoid risky situations or speak up about them before something terrible happens.
Help Your Teen Cope with Peer Pressure
Helping teens cope with peer pressure begins with education and teaching them how to use social media responsibly. Consider the following:
- Teach them about self-esteem and assertiveness.
- Being assertive leads to being able to say no like you meant it, whether saying no to an individual or group or saying no to yourself. In the context of social media, it becomes vital to say no to yourself by setting boundaries and limitations on engagement and interaction.
- Having self-esteem helps with making decisions and critical thinking. Social media involves a significant number of individual actions. Before making a decision, ask yourself: Is this good for me? Is this adding something positive to my life? Am I certain how I feel about this? This will also help people avoid making decisions others think are good for them.
- Teach them about priorities.
- For example, their peers may prioritize skipping school and making TikTok videos. Yet, they may prioritize getting good grades but are pressured into doing the latter.
- Help them understand their priorities and needs have value and are not for nothing, even if their close friends disagree.
- Help them surround themselves with the right people.
- Encourage them to find the activities they enjoy, which can draw them to people with similar interests and mindsets. Help them take part in school activities, sports, or events.
- Guide them toward finding friends they can feel safe with and who provide social support.
- Discourage and disapprove of behavior that involves bullying, gossiping, spreading rumors, and hateful comments. Speak to them about what is appropriate and safe to share on social media.
- Set clear boundaries and limitations. Show them how to avoid letting social media interfere with sleep, studying, extracurricular activities, sports, meals, and homework. For example, establish healthy bedtime routines that do not involve screen time. Lead by example; parents should follow the same rules they set for their teens.
- Monitor their accounts and let them know you are checking their social media feeds. Set up the accounts initially, and follow through with checking them regularly. This creates accountability and discourages risky behavior.
- Always encourage them to have face-to-face contact with friends and peers. This form of social interaction is critical and will drastically lessen their time spent using social media.
The Evolution of Peer Pressure
Peer pressure has evolved from rumors and face-to-face engagement in a community where someone grew up. It has become random people, close friends, family members, or acquaintances, pressuring one another through social media platforms, often hiding behind a username.
It is constant, regardless of where someone lives.
Teens who face peer pressure today do not have to live in the same community, town, or city as the person pressuring them. Social media means that peer pressure is everywhere all the time. The only way to get a break from social pressure today is to disconnect from social media.
It is no longer about kids pressuring one another to skip school and hang out at the mall. People want to go viral, whether an internet challenge or catching something on video. There is constant pressure to be the next internet sensation, gain more followers, become a social media influencer and seek that social reward.
It is no longer easy to avoid and can be much more challenging to manage and prevent. Fortunately, practical solutions and tips have evolved with time. Parents can still be equipped to help their kids.