The good and bad of peer pressure

The Good and Bad of Peer Pressure [children & teens]

– outcomes can appear at home in the form of changes in behaviour, mood & how they dress; can affect academic performance &
– research shows:
– peer definition: influence to behave differently – both explicit (direct comment/behaviour to the person; implicit – taking on school norms – wanting to fit in; making friends with similar kids; seeking status of some sort)
– it begins to show in the early grade years of school (or as soon as the child begins to show an interest in others)
– it can be good or bad influence
– what typically comes to the attention of mental health professionals is bad behaviour, decline in academic performance
[note: some children are susceptible to influence from anyone]
[note: some people are more influential than others]
– therefore hanging around with more influential people, may make you susceptible to influence; hanging out with older children also makes you susceptible to influence; popular children may also be subject to influence (so as to maintain their popular status)
– young boys spend more of their time in groups, compared with young girls who engage in friendship dyads (this would seem to suggest boys need approval of a larger group of friendship peers compared to girls; this suggests boys are influenced more by group dynamics, compared with girls who are more susceptible to individual influence)
-parents can help children in many ways:
1) help the child to understand that attempts to influence them (overtly & covertly) are everywhere in our culture (eat, buy, watch, listen, read, play x, y, & z), including peers
– this gives the child / adolescent the ability to identify & label “influence attempts”
2) this then opens up a larger discussion – do you want to be influenced by these things?
3) if no, this opens up a discussion about strategies to resist these influence attempts
[research shows that children who have good relationships with their parents feel less of a need to please their friends; this good relationship with parents acts as a buffer for the child/adolescent too even if their friends are “burned out” with school & are no longer motivated to keep trying at school – the opposite is unfortunately shown to be true in studies where the child/adolescent does not have a good relationship with their parents]
[Note: peer pressure/influence follows people across the lifespan]

Source: 5 October 2013 | Speaking of Psychology Podcast


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