It is universally acknowledged that our peers are some of the most influential people in our lives; they impact our goals, attitudes, and the ways we think and act. There is an obvious social stigma that warns us of and makes us skeptical about our peers and the way they influence us. However, society needs to realize that there are indeed numerous positive effects of what is known as peer pressure. Teenagers can be motivated to accomplish more and aim higher through competition and exchange of information with their peers. Peer pressure can serve as powerful encouragement towards beneficial behavior, and more often influences students positively as opposed to negatively.
Peer pressure motivates us to take positive actions that our friends are taking and persuades us to stay away from negative activities our friends disapprove of. We are more likely to participate in positive activities if our peers participated in them too. Charitable events and campaigns such as the Youth Relay for Life, the We are Silent pledge, and Trick or Treat for UNICEF are often coordinated by a group of friends. Additionally, statistics have shown that peer pressure does not always affect teens negatively. According to the Survelum Public Data Bank, 68.8% of teens expressed in a survey that they were never influenced by peer pressure. 49% of participants expressed that they had never lied to their parents because their friends told them too, while only 31% said they had (Survelum Public Data Bank, 2013).
Teens are easily influenced by their peers, and peer pressure can be used to spread awareness and reach vulnerable teenagers who might be isolated in terms of other forms of communication. When applying to a high school program, my friends and I exchanged valuable information about the application process, future curriculum, and quality of teaching in programs that interested us. Information is transferred easily between peers, and peers speak the same language and can understand each other. Julie Hoare, senior HIV/AIDS prevention officer at the International Federation, says that peer education programs are the most common-used approach to HIV prevention (Hoare, 2013). Teens are able to educate each other on negative consequences; messages delivered by peers are often more personalized, and teens are more likely to change their attitudes when advised by a peer.
I agree that teens may lose their own goals and aspirations when they try to fit in with others. However, if a teen feels motivated to take a different course of action just because his friends are doing so, it is a hint that he is not determined enough to achieve his goal. At times, our peers’ positive opinions about a certain issue can even allow us to come to certain realizations. For example, I only realized that I would be unable to balance my extra-curriculars with my academics after a friend advised me to reconsider. Ideas can circulate through peers, and the thoughts and opinions of our peers can inspire us and give us new ideas.
According to the survey conducted by Survelum Data Bank, 54% of teenagers agree that peer pressure can be positive. Peer pressure stimulates us to aim higher and try harder in order to be just as excellent as our peers. My friends put more pressure on me to do well academically than my parents and teachers do. Most teens would agree they desire a sense of belonging, and for me that sense of belonging became less substantial when I lost focus. Carrie Silver-Stock, the founder of girlswithdreams.com and the author of Secret Girls keep said that “when teens surround themselves with people who are involved with positive activities and choices, this typically makes teens want to be better.” (Silver-Stock, 2013) Similarly, encouraging our peers can exercise our leadership skills and also motivate us to work harder as well. Peers can also encourage us to take risks we might be afraid to take on our own, such as running for student parliament or trying out for the glee club.
Having friends who support, appreciate, and encourage you is instrumental to the well-being of an individual. A study conducted by Psychology Today shows that 72% of women with depression who regularly visited friends experienced a remission (Psychology Today, 2012). The right friends can provide consultation, encouragement, information, and help us establish a willingness to succeed.