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About peer influence and peer pressure

Peer influence is when you choose to do something you wouldn’t otherwise do , because you want to feel accepted and valued by your friends. It isn’t just or always about doing something against your will.

You might hear the term ‘peer pressure’ used a lot. But peer influence is a better way to describe how teenagers’ behaviour is shaped by wanting to feel they belong to a group of friends or peers.

Peer pressure and influence  can be positive . For example, your child might be influenced to become more assertive, try new activities or get more involved with school.

But it can be negative too. Some teenagers might choose to try things they normally wouldn’t be interested in, like smoking or behaving in antisocial ways.

Peer pressure and influence might result in teenagers:

Being yourself: a balance for peer pressure and peer influence

It’s normal to worry that your child is being influenced too much by their peers, or that they’re compromising on their values (or yours) to fit in with their friends. It’s also normal to worry that your child won’t be able to say no if they get pressure to try risky things, like wagging school or smoking.

But listening to the same music and dressing in the same way as friends doesn’t necessarily mean that your child will also do antisocial or risky things.

If your child is  happy with who they are and their choices and values , they’re less likely to be influenced by other people. Your child might choose to do some things that their friends do, but not others. And your influence is important here – it’s the biggest factor shaping your child’s values and long-term choices.

With your influence and a strong sense of themselves, it’s more likely your child will know where to draw the line when it comes to peer pressure and influence.

Helping pre-teens and teenagers manage peer pressure and peer influence

Coping well with peer influence is about  getting the balance right between being yourself and fitting in  with your group. Here are some ideas to help your child with this.

Build teenage confidence Confidence can help teenagers resist negative peer influence. That’s because confident teenagers can make safe, informed decisions and avoid people and situations that aren’t right for them.

You can build your child’s confidence by encouraging them to try new things that give them a chance of success, and to keep trying even when things are hard. Praising your child for trying hard is important for building confidence too.

You can also be a role model for confidence, and show your child how to act confident as the first step towards feeling confident.

Build teenage self-compassion Self-compassion is being kind to yourself and treating yourself with the same warmth, care and understanding you’d give to someone you care about. When teenagers have self-compassion, it can help them handle any stress and anxiety related to peer influence.

A strong relationship with you helps your child feel loved, accepted and secure. It’s important for teenage self-compassion.

Keep the lines of communication open You can do this by  staying connected to your child. This helps your child feel they can come to you to talk if they’re feeling pressured to do something they’re uncomfortable with.

Suggest ways to say no Your child might need to have some face-saving ways to say no if they’re feeling influenced to do something they don’t want to do. For example, friends might be encouraging your child to try smoking. Rather than simply saying ‘No, thanks’, your child could say something like, ‘No, it makes my asthma worse’, or ‘No, I don’t like the way it makes me smell’.

Give teenagers a way out If your child feels they’re in a risky situation, it might help if they can text or phone you for back-up. You and your child could agree on a coded message for those times when your child doesn’t want to feel embarrassed in front of friends. For example, they could say that they’re checking on a sick grandparent, but you’ll know that it really means they need your help.

If your child does call you, it’s important to focus on your child’s positive choice to ask you for help, rather than on the risky situation your child is in. Your child is more likely to ask for help if they know they won’t get into trouble.

Encourage a wide social network If your child has the chance to develop friendships from many sources, including sport, family activities or clubs, it will mean they’ve got plenty of options and sources of support if a friendship goes wrong.

When you’re worried about peer pressure and peer influence

Encouraging your child to have friends over and giving them space in your home can help you get to know your child’s friends. This also gives you the chance to check on whether negative peer pressure and influence is an issue for your child.

Good communication and a positive relationship with your child might also encourage your child to talk to you if they’re feeling negative influence from peers.

If you’re worried your child’s friends are a negative influence, being critical of them might push your child into seeing them behind your back. If your child thinks you don’t approve of their friends, they might even want to see more of them. So it’s important to  talk and listen without judging , and gently help your child see the influence their peers are having.

This might mean talking with your child about behaviour you don’t like rather than the people you don’t like. For example, you might say, ‘When you’re with your friends, you often get into fights’. This can be better than saying, ‘You need to find new friends’.

It can help to  compromise with your child. For example, letting your child wear certain clothes or have their hair cut in a particular way can help them feel connected to their peers, even if you’re not keen on blue hair or ripped jeans. Letting your child have some independence can reduce the chance of more risky choices.

Having friends and feeling connected to a group gives teenagers a sense of belonging and being valued, which helps them develop confidence. Friendships also help teenagers learn important social and emotional skills, like being sensitive to other people’s thoughts, feelings and wellbeing.

When to be concerned about peer influence and peer pressure

If you notice changes in your child’s mood, behaviour, eating or sleeping patterns , which you think are because of their friends, it might be time to have a talk with your child.

Some mood and behaviour changes are normal in pre-teens and teenagers. But if your child seems to be in a low mood for more than 2 weeks, or their low mood gets in the way of things they normally enjoy, they might need support for their mental health .

Warning signs include:

If you’re concerned, start by talking with your child. The next step is to talk to your GP, who can put you in contact with your local child and adolescent health team or another appropriate professional.

6 Negative Effects Of Peer-Pressure

One of the peskier aspects of teenage is peer-pressure.

Peer-pressure is a rite of passage that all of us go through but its impact varies from person to person. In a nutshell, peer-pressure is the influence that friends, people and individuals are capable of exerting on person. Some children are able to brush it off without any issues while it negatively impacts some other children. Sometimes adults underestimate the effects of peer pressure on their children because they were teenagers long ago in a different time.

Here are 6 ways in which peer-pressure can negatively affect children. They are listed in order of increasing importance.

Teenager frustrated with academics

1. A dip in self-confidence – Just as some influences can be positive, some influences can be negative too. Peer pressure can take a normally self-confident child and make him/her someone who is not sure about themselves and has low self-esteem. Low self-esteem and a lack of confidence in turn might impact a child’s general well-being.

2. Academics are affected – For teenagers, it is important they be accepted by their peer group. This means that their peer group’s approval gets placed above that of their parents and teachers . This in turn has a direct effect on their academics. Sometimes their academics are affected because despite being capable of performing well, they choose not to because in the eyes of their peers it makes them look ‘uncool’. Sometimes their academics are affected because in an effort to fit in with their peer group, they place more emphasis on being social rather than working on their academics.

Teenagers being offered cigarettes and alcohol

3. Can easily adopt dangerous habits – The more extreme forms of peer pressure propagate bad habits such as alcohol consumption, smoking, drug abuse. Technically, teenagers know that these are not good habits to cultivate but they excuse it with the brash confidence youth and are also motivated by the need to feel accepted. At this point of time, long term consequences don’t really occur to them.

4. Makes them feel ashamed or bad about themselves and their family – At the average school, the student body is composed of students who come from various economic backgrounds. Sometimes these economic backgrounds are vastly disparate and for many children, this becomes a bone of contention. If they come from poor economic backgrounds or come from a family which might not give them money to spend extravagantly, children end up feeling bad or ashamed about themselves and their family, because in the eyes of their peers, they are somehow ‘lesser’ or ‘weird’  individuals.

5. Distances them from family and friends – It is common for teenagers to think that nobody understands them and that the whole world is against them. However, in a few cases, the influence of peer pressure is such that it draws teenagers completely away from family and friends who mean well. They shut themselves off and fall into bad company.

Lonely and depressed teenager

6. May engage in self harm and suicide ideation – Sometimes the impact of peer pressure on teenagers is so bad that they can hardly stand to be in their own skin, are distanced from family and friends and become depressed and anxious. In such instances, teenagers could attempt self-harm or even dream of committing suicide, engage in suicidal thoughts and even ultimately engage in suicide.

Peer-pressure cannot be avoided and nor should children be wrapped in cotton wool and kept away like precious figurines. Recognize that your children are growing up, and allow them a limited amount of freedom and most important of all, always let them know that you love them.

How did you deal with growing teenagers and the effects of peer pressure? Share your opinions and suggestions with us in the comments section below!

About Author

Padma loves to read, write and listen to music. She enjoys writing about education and talking about it too. Someday in the future, she hopes to become a novelist too.

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I appreciate you, for writing article on current burning topic.

It is true that most of the teens start spending more time with their friends and are influenced by these peers through peer pressure, same time, the parents need to remember one simple truth: your teen will never forget the values you have given him/her. He/she may not always remember to use this better judgment due to the influence of peer pressure, but these values will make it through the trials of adolescence and into their young adulthood.

In some cases, Peer pressure is not bad thing. Somewhere in our lives, we all are influenced by our peers, of course both negatively and positively. It helps define who we are and how we feel about subjects/things in our lives. It is how we chose to react to peer pressure that defines who we are as an individual.

As parents we have to make it clear to our children that what is negative and positive peer pressure. For example; If the your child is spending time with a group of teens who are in sports (positive) and then he meets someone who are into drugs (negative) .

In above case, our job as parents is : we need to show our teens how to be confident with whom they are, being true to themselves and therefore, have genuine friendships and no need to be accepted by those who would lead them down the wrong path .

Lastly, the outward appearance in teenagers is often a reflection of inner feelings. Always, encourage your teen to practice good hygiene and walk and talk with self-confidence.

Exactly, the parents must know the difference between negative and positive peer pressure and teach their children too about it so that children can also realise which influences around them or good or bad. And of course, the values that parents teach children will always be remembered by the children. It is just that during puberty and adolescence, children always tend to find value in the comments of others and not parents. But it too is a passing phase which fades by the time one reaches adulthood.

Who’s the witers of this article? Need response please . Because I want put this in our thesis that’s why I need bibliography for credits of this aricle. I hope you reply😊 thankyou😊

Hi, Princess colegio. You can go ahead and use the article in your thesis. The writer is Padma.

This really helps a person understand the positive and negetive affects on peer pressure. Thanktou this really helps me understand what my argument paper is really about.

Can someone please tell me who is the writer or the website name and when does this article was publish is for my english class thanks you!

This really helps a person understand the positive and negative affects on peer pressure. Thank u this really helps me understand what my argument paper is really about.

it really showed me how peer pressure is really like and I’m only 12 and

this really helps me with my speech thank you padma

yes love it tons we twins

Hi Padma, Your work is much appreciated. Well written and all the facts are covered. Will be happy to read more works of yours.

I am really inspired in this article and I learned a lot. I am a teenager who is 14 years old and I have had some experiences of peer pressure. This article has reminded me of my self when I was asked to have sex. When I become a parent, I will definitely tell my kids to read this and let them know this important life lesson. Thank you!

Wow thanks a lot for writing this article, I’m 20 right now and speaking of how I dealt and still dealing with peer pressure, this is how I do it or I believe should be done, I’ve always been decisive and always stand by my ideas, no matter how weird your peer group thinks u are JUST BE UR SELF AND ALWAYS STAND BY UR IDEAS. Don’t betray yourself. The way there are people that don’t like it about you, so are there people out there that loves u cause of it!!😊😊😊. I hope this helps who ever read this.

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Peer Pressure

"Now!" whispered Suki. "Quick, while the clerk's not looking."

Heart pounding, Leah leaned against the store's unattended makeup display and slid two tubes of lipstick into her purse. She looked bored and detached as she followed her friends Suki and Jill out of the store, but inside she felt panicked.

"I can't believe you made me do that," Leah wailed.

"Relax," said Jill. "Everybody does it sometimes. And we didn't make you do it."

She said nothing, but Leah knew she wouldn't have done that on her own. She'd just had a big dose of peer pressure.

Who Are Your Peers?

When you were a little kid, your parents usually chose your friends, putting you in play groups or arranging play dates with certain children they knew and liked. Now that you're older, you decide who your friends are and what groups you spend time with.

Your friends — your peers — are people your age or close to it who have experiences and interests similar to yours. You and your friends make dozens of decisions every day, and you influence each other's choices and behaviors. This is often positive — it's human nature to listen to and learn from other people in your age group.

As you become more independent, your peers naturally play a greater role in your life. As school and other activities take you away from home, you may spend more time with peers than you do with your parents and siblings. You'll probably develop close friendships with some of your peers, and you may feel so connected to them that they are like an extended family.

Besides close friends, your peers include other kids you know who are the same age — like people in your grade, church, sports team, or community. These peers also influence you by the way they dress and act, things they're involved in, and the attitudes they show.

It's natural for people to identify with and compare themselves to their peers as they consider how they wish to be (or think they should be), or what they want to achieve. People are influenced by peers because they want to fit in, be like peers they admire, do what others are doing, or have what others have.

Peer Influence Isn't All Bad

You already know that the teen years can be tough. You're figuring out who you are, what you believe, what you're good at, what your responsibilities are, and what your place in the world is going to be.

It's comforting to face those challenges with friends who are into the same things that you are. But you probably hear adults — parents, teachers, guidance counselors, etc. — talk about peer pressure more than the benefits of belonging to a peer group.

You might not hear a lot about it, but peers have a profoundly positive influence on each other and play important roles in each other's lives:

When the Pressure's On

Sometimes, though, the stresses in your life can actually come from your peers. They may pressure you into doing something you're uncomfortable with, such as shoplifting, doing drugs or drinking, taking dangerous risks when driving a car, or having sex before you feel ready.

This pressure may be expressed openly ("Oh, come on — it's just one beer, and everyone else is having one") or more indirectly — simply making beer available at a party, for instance.

Most peer pressure is less easy to define. Sometimes a group can make subtle signals without saying anything at all — letting you know that you must dress or talk a certain way or adopt particular attitudes toward school, other students, parents, and teachers in order to win acceptance and approval.

The pressure to conform (to do what others are doing) can be powerful and hard to resist. A person might feel pressure to do something just because others are doing it (or say they are). Peer pressure can influence a person to do something that is relatively harmless — or something that has more serious consequences. Giving in to the pressure to dress a certain way is one thing — going along with the crowd to drink or smoke is another.

People may feel pressure to conform so they fit in or are accepted, or so they don't feel awkward or uncomfortable. When people are unsure of what to do in a social situation, they naturally look to others for cues about what is and isn't acceptable.

The people who are most easily influenced will follow someone else's lead first. Then others may go along, too — so it can be easy to think, "It must be OK. Everyone else is doing it. They must know what they're doing." Before you know it, many people are going along with the crowd — perhaps on something they might not otherwise do.

Responding to peer pressure is part of human nature — but some people are more likely to give in, and others are better able to resist and stand their ground. People who are low on confidence and those who tend to follow rather than lead could be more likely to seek their peers' approval by giving in to a risky challenge or suggestion. People who are unsure of themselves, new to the group, or inexperienced with peer pressure may also be more likely to give in.

Using alcohol or drugs increases anyone's chances of giving in to peer pressure. Substance use impairs judgment and interferes with the ability to make good decisions.

Pressure Pointers

Nearly everyone ends up in a sticky peer pressure situation at some point. No matter how wisely you choose your friends, or how well you think you know them, sooner or later you'll have to make decisions that are difficult and could be unpopular. It may be something as simple as resisting the pressure to spend your hard-earned babysitting money on the latest MP3 player that "everybody" has. Or it may mean deciding to take a stand that makes you look uncool to your group.

But these situations can be opportunities to figure out what is right for you. There's no magic to standing up to peer pressure, but it does take courage — yours:

It's not always easy to resist negative peer pressure, but when you do, it is easy to feel good about it afterward. And you may even be a positive influence on your peers who feel the same way — often it just takes one person to speak out or take a different action to change a situation. Your friends may follow if you have the courage to do something different or refuse to go along with the group. Consider yourself a leader, and know that you have the potential to make a difference.

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How Does Peer Pressure Affect a Teen’s Social Development?

Tips to support your teen while respecting their independence.

A teenage girl looks down while two girls talk behind her back. Teen pressure at its worst.

It’s inevitable. As your children grow up, they will want to spend less time with you and more time with their friends, even if via social media. Peer influence is that powerful.

But what are the effects of peer pressure on the social and emotional development of teens?

Teen peer pressure is a complicated area. While teens may feel they have “grown up,” their brain is still developing. One of the immature functions is judgment.

There are also different types of peer pressure for this age group, negative and positive.

Positive peer pressure can help teens develop the coping skills necessary for adulthood. It might encourage teens to become more active in athletics or to avoid risky behaviors, which can be especially helpful during tough times.

Negative peer pressure can lead teens in bad directions. It could lead them to try alcohol or drugs, skip school or engage in other poor behaviors that could put their health at risk.

“A teenager’s brain is only about 80 percent developed,” says Gurinder Dabhia, MD , a pediatrician at Scripps Clinic Rancho Bernardo . “Teens have extra unconnected synapses in the area where risk-assessment occurs, and this gets in the way of judgement. In addition, the prefrontal cortex is underdeveloped, which makes teens more sensitive to peer pressure and risky, impulsive behavior.”

How to support your teen

As a parent, the rules really aren’t that different from when your child was a toddler:

“Stay involved in your teen’s life and know whom they admire and spend time with,” says Dr. Dabhia.

Check their health and wellness

While it’s common for a teen to act out from time to time, it’s important to keep an eye out for signs of underlying depression or anxiety. Research shows that teens have been affected socially and emotionally by the COVID-19 pandemic , due in large part to social restrictions.

Signs that may indicate teen depression include sulking, withdrawal and high risk behaviors.

“Remember to have conversations with your children about alcohol, drugs or sex well before the teen years,” says Dr. Dabhia. “You want your children to understand the short and long-term consequences of negative behavior at an early age so they will be prepared and not surprised. This will reinforce these values when they really need them.”

Give them their space

Of course, as much as you want to be with them and protect them, you have to allow older children their freedom — otherwise they may simply rebel harder.

To guide your teen, teach them what to do in specific situations. For example, if people in their social groups or peer groups are pressuring them to drink alcohol or do drugs, let them know you’re only a phone call away and that you will come get them. Teens will respond favorably when they understand that your first priority is to keep them safe, not to punish them.

“As challenging as it is to watch your child grow up and become independent, it is essential to their well-being that parents respect their independence,” says Dr. Dabhia. 

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What Is Peer Pressure?

Peer pressure can affect your child's behavior in positive and negative ways

write an article for publication on the topic the dangers of peer group pressure

Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, international bestselling author and host of the The Verywell Mind Podcast.

write an article for publication on the topic the dangers of peer group pressure

Emily is a board-certified science editor who has worked with top digital publishing brands like Voices for Biodiversity, Study.com, GoodTherapy, Vox, and Verywell.

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Signs of Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is the influence wielded by people within the same social group. It is also the term used to describe the effect this influence has on a person to conform in order to be accepted by the group. Often, peers are thought of as friends, but peers can be anyone of a similar status, such as people who are the same age, who have the same abilities, or who share a social status. 

Peer pressure is commonly thought of in a negative light, but in reality, it's not always a bad thing. Sometimes peer pressure is used to positively influence people, such as when teens work toward common goals such as doing well in school or helping out in their community. Learning about acceptable group norms can be a positive part of learning how to live with and socialize with other people. 

The way your child ( or you, for that matter ) responds to peer pressure can indicate who they are as an individual. Natural leaders tend to be less susceptible to bad forms of peer pressure, while followers may have a harder time resisting it.

Peer pressure can have both a positive or negative influence.

Peer pressure can range from subtle to overt, which means that some forms of peer pressure can be easier to spot than others. Being able to identify signs that your child is dealing with peer pressure may help you start a supportive conversation.

Some signs that your child may be experiencing peer pressure include:

Many of the signs of peer pressure can also be signs of other things, like bullying or mental health concerns. Any changes in behavior or mood are worth investigating. 

Types of Peer Pressure

Most kids have a strong desire to fit in and are especially sensitive to being picked on, made fun of, or ostracized. Consequently, they're often eager to do the things their peers tell them to do.

Research has drawn attention to the significant role of peers in influencing prosocial behaviors. When peers endorse positive and altruistic behavior, young people are more likely to engage in those behaviors, even when their peers are not watching.

Positive Peer Pressure

Positive peer pressure is when someone's peers encourage them to do something positive or push them to grow in a beneficial way. 

Here are a few examples of positive peer pressure:

Negative Peer Pressure

Negative peer pressure, on the other hand, involves pressure to do something dangerous or damaging to themselves or others. 

Here some examples of negative peer pressure:

Impact of Peer Pressure

As your child grows older, their peers will play a bigger role in their life. Friends can influence everything from what kind of music kids listen to and what their hobbies are to what they wear, how they spend their time, and how they talk.

Mental health concerns and gender socialization may influence how receptive a young person is to peer pressure. Additionally, peer pressure can play a role in bullying. For example, research indicates that adolescent boys are more susceptible to pressure for risk-taking behaviors. However, both boys and girls are also receptive to peer pressure across a huge spectrum of behaviors and beliefs, such as what to wear, how to act, and what behavior is acceptable.

However, it's important to remember that peer pressure can have both negative and positive impacts.

Some of the potential benefits of peer pressure include the following:

Possible negative aspects of peer pressure include the following:

Tips for Coping With Peer Pressure

It's important to prepare for dealing with peer pressure. Being able to spot signs of peer pressure will allow you to intervene when you recognize that your child or someone you care about is headed down an unhealthy road. 

Some strategies that may be useful for helping someone cope with peer pressure might include:

Talk to your kids about peer pressure. Teach your child how to say no, help them develop the skills to think independently, and encourage self-confidence. If you suspect that your child or another person that you love is being affected negatively by peer pressure, let them know you are someone they can trust and offer to make a plan for getting out of a bad situation. 

A Word From Verywell

While peer pressure can be difficult, it isn't always a bad thing. Positive peer pressure can be a valuable part of learning how to socialize and even growing as a person. The type of peer pressure your child is experiencing depends on the peer group they socialize with as well as the larger social groups they interact with, both in person and online.

If you suspect that your kids are struggling with negative peer pressure, encourage them to talk to you. Sometimes kids don't want to talk to their parents about peer pressure. If that's the case, don't take it personally. Encourage them to talk about it with another trusted adult, like a teacher, a school counselor, a doctor, or a therapist. 

Helfert S, Warschburger P. The face of appearance-related social pressure: gender, age and body mass variations in peer and parental pressure during adolescence . Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health . 2013;7:16. doi:10.1186/1753-2000-7-16

Moksnes UK, Espnes GA, Haugan G. Stress, sense of coherence and emotional symptoms in adolescents . Psychol Health . 2014;29(1):32-49. doi:10.1080/08870446.2013.822868

Han S-Y, Kim Y-H. Interpersonal rejection experiences and shame as predictors of susceptibility to peer pressure among Korean children . Soc Behav Pers . 2012;40(7):1213-1231. doi:10.2224/sbp.2012.40.7.1213

Choukas-Bradley S, Giletta M, Cohen G, Prinstein M. Peer influence, peer status, and prosocial behavior: An experimental investigation of peer socialization of adolescents’ intentions to volunteer. J Youth Adolesc . 2015;44(12):2197-2210. doi:10.1007/s10964-015-0373-2

McCoy S, Dimler L, Samuels D, Natsuaki M. Adolescent susceptibility to deviant peer pressure: Does gender matter? . Adolesc Res Rev . 2017;4(1):59-71. doi:10.1007/s40894-017-0071-2

By Amy Morin, LCSW Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, an international bestselling author of books on mental strength and host of The Verywell Mind Podcast. She delivered one of the most popular TEDx talks of all time.

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NIH News in Health

A monthly newsletter from the National Institutes of Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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September 2021

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The Power of Peers

Who Influences Your Health?

Illustration of families and friends being active together at a park

Do birds of a feather really flock together? The science says yes. People do tend to choose friends who are similar to them. You also become more like your friends over time. And that can influence your health.

Many behaviors spread socially. Examples include how much you exercise, how much alcohol you drink, whether you smoke, and what foods you eat.

Scientists are still trying to untangle why that is. Studies have found that activity in certain brain areas changes when other people are around. That can affect what you choose to do.

But this work also suggests that you can harness the power of social relationships to gain healthier habits—and motivate others to do the same.

Social Influence

“People care about what others think across all different age groups—and that influences how much they value different ideas and behaviors,” says Dr. Emily Falk at the University of Pennsylvania. She studies how social networks affect decision making. This is called social, or peer, influence.

Teens are especially responsive to peer influence. That’s because their brains undergo changes that make them highly attuned to social situations. At the same time, the reward system in the teen brain becomes extra sensitive.

The reward system is a brain circuit that causes feelings of pleasure. It’s activated by things we enjoy, like eating good food. It’s also activated by social rewards, like getting a compliment.

And teens are just learning to navigate the social world. Understanding other people’s values and being influenced by them are important parts of socializing. Being influenced on things like clothing choices and musical taste can help teens learn to fit in and make friends. But taking part in risky behaviors, like drinking alcohol or smoking, can lead to health or legal consequences.

“Research shows that even just having another peer around can change the reward response in the brain and also the risk-taking tendencies of teenagers,” says Falk. Her team studies how peers affect teens’ driving behaviors and smoking decisions.

Some people seem to be more easily influenced than others, too. They may be more sensitive to feeling included or excluded by others. Or they may be more sensitive to social signals, like the tone of someone’s voice or their body language.

Dr. Mary Heitzeg’s team at the University of Michigan is doing research to better understand how a person’s biology and reactions to social situations affect whether they develop substance use or mental health problems later in life.

Using brain scans, the team is looking at how teens’ brains respond to being socially included or excluded. They’re also looking at how the brain’s reward system responds to different situations.

Heitzeg’s team is part of a large 10-year effort, called the ABCD Study, to understand the factors that influence teens’ health and risk behavior in the long term. Factors can include families, friends, schools, neighborhoods, and communities.

“Adolescence is such a risky period,” says Heitzeg. “That’s when sexual initiation happens, initiation and escalation of substance use happens, as well as other types of risky and delinquent behaviors, like risky driving.”

But it’s also a time that peer influence can help teens thrive if it gets them more involved with their community or helps them learn behaviors to get along with others, like how to cooperate or be empathetic.

Peer Quality, Not Quantity

Positive and negative peer influences can affect more than just your behavior. They can also change the way you feel.

Studies show that, in general, the more friends you have and the more time you spend with them, the happier you are. Friends give you people to share your feelings with, to get new perspectives from, or to just do fun activities with.

But it’s the quality of those friendships—not quantity—that really makes the difference. Quality of friendships has been linked to higher life satisfaction and better mental health.

“We’ve all experienced letting a friendship go because it didn’t feel great,” says Dr. Rebecca Schwartz-Mette of the University of Maine. Her lab studies how peer relationships affect the emotional development of children and teens.

Friendships you feel you want to let go of may be low quality. They might be fraught with conflict, criticism, and aggression. For youth, low quality friendships are linked to poor academic performance and behavioral issues.

High quality friendships provide understanding, support, and validation of your self-worth. These types of friendships are more stable and are more satisfying.

Spending time with friends can be especially helpful for people with anxiety or depression. However, Schwartz-Mette’s studies have shown that depression can also be worsened by certain friendship qualities. One is called co-rumination.

“Co-rumination is basically when people get together and talk excessively about everything that’s going wrong and how bad they feel,” she explains. “With that person, they feel understood, validated, and that this person is emotionally close to them. But they get more depressed because they’re focusing their attention on negative things.”

Research suggests that it may help to refocus such friendships. Talk about both positive and negative things in your day. Look for healthy activities to get out and do together, like going for a walk. Encourage each other to keep up healthy habits like physical activity, healthy eating, and getting a good night’s sleep.

“Noticing that our behavior is influenced by other people, we can be intentional and try to focus on the people who are doing the things we want to get into ourselves,” Falk explains. “Sharing your healthy habits with other people could make a real difference to somebody else.” And to yourself.

Parents can help guide their kids toward more positive social experiences, too (see the Wise Choices box for tips). But everyone can benefit from high quality friendships that help you nurture healthy habits.

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How Can Peer Group Influence the Behavior of Adolescents: Explanatory Model

Gina tomé.

T. University of Lisbon, Portugal

Margarida Gaspar de Matos

Celeste simões, inês camacho, josé alvesdiniz.

The current work aims to study both the peer group and family influence on adolescent behaviour. In order to achieve the aforementioned objective, an explanatory model based on the Structural Equations Modelling (SEM)was proposed. The sample used was the group of adolescents that participated in the Portuguese survey of the European study Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC). The Portuguese survey included students from grades 6, 8 and 10 within the public education system, with an average age of 14 years old (SD=1.89). The total sample of the HBSC study carried out in 2006 was 4,877; however with the use of the SEM, 1,238 participants were lost out of the total sample.

The results show that peers have a direct influence in adolescents’ risk behaviours. The relationship with parents did not demonstrate the expected mediation effect, with the exception of the following elements: relation between type of friends and risk behaviour; and communication with parent and lesser involvement in violence behaviours and increased well-being. The negative influence of the peer group is more connected to the involvement in risk behaviours, whilst the positive influence is more connected with protective behaviours.

1. Introduction

There are a variety of negative health indicators that show a peek during adolescence, namely homicide rates, non-intentional injuries, driving under alcohol effect or infection by sexually-transmitted diseases ( Mulye, Park, Neson, Irwin & Brindis, 2009 ). Experimenting substances also occurs usually during adolescents, a time of development in which tolerance is lower and the risk of dependency increases ( Glaser, Shelton & Bree, 2010 ). Peers and family have a key role in promoting health during adolescence, as well as, the perception that youngsters have of their quality of life and subjective well-being. Health does not depend solely on the delivery of health care during illness; on the contrary, influence of different settings may be crucial ( Gaspar & Matos, 2008 ).

Behavioural problems that occur during infancy and adolescence (particularly external problems, such as substance use and violence behaviours) may continue throughout adulthood, associated to social non-adaptation, substance abuse and conflicts ( Bongers, Koot, Van der Ende & Verhulst, 2008 ). The peer group may on one hand, serve as a model and influence behaviours and attitudes, whilst on the other hand, it may provide easy access, encouragement and an appropriate social setting for consumption ( Glaser, Shelton & Bree, 2010 ). Social Learning Theory suggests that it is not necessary for adolescents to observe a given behaviour and adopt it; it is sufficient to perceive that the peer group accepts it, in order to be able to opt for similar behaviours ( Petraitis, Flay & Miller, 1995 ).

Peers may strongly determine preference in the way of dressing, speaking, using illicit substances, sexual behaviour, adopting and accepting violence, adopting criminal and anti-social behaviours and in many other areas of the adolescent’s life ( Padilla, Walker & Bean, 2009 ; Tomé, Matos & Diniz, 2008 ). An example of this is that the main motives for alcohol consumption given by adolescents are related to social events, which usually take place in the company of friends, namely: drinking makes holidays more fun, it facilitates approaching others, it helps relaxing or facilitates sharing experiences and feelings ( Kuntsche, Knibbe, Gmel & Engels, 2005 ). Also, mimicking risk behaviours may be greater when consumption begins in the context of a social event ( Larsen, Engels, Souren, Granic & Overbeek, 2010 ).

On the other hand, having friends allows to share experiences and feelings and to learn how to solve conflicts. Not having friends, on the other hand, leads to social isolation and limited social contacts, as there are fewer opportunities to develop new relations and social interactional skills. Friendship is also positively associated to psychological well-being ( Ueno, 2004 ), whilst a conflicting relation with peers is negatively associated with health ( Laftman & Östberg, 2006 ). Stronger friendships may provide adolescents with an appropriate environment to development in a healthy way and to achieve good academic results. Adolescents with reciprocal friendships mention high levels of feelings of belonging in school; at the same time, reciprocity and feelings of belonging have positive effects in academic results ( Vaquera & Kao, 2008 ).

School is a setting where interpersonal relations are promoted, which are important for youngsters’ personal and social development ( Ruini et al. , 2009 ); it is responsible for the transmission of behavioural norms and standards and it represents an essential role in the adolescent’s socialisation process. The school is able to gather different peer communities and to promote self-esteem and a harmonious development between adolescents, which makes it a privileged space for meetings and interactions ( Baptista, Tomé, Matos, Gaspar & Cruz, 2008 ). Adolescents spend a great part of their time at school, which also makes it a privileged context for involvement in or protection from risk behaviours ( Piko & Kovács, 2010 ). Camacho, Tomé, Matos, Gamito and Diniz (2010) confirmed that adolescents who like school were those that more often were part of a peer group without involvement in risk behaviours; whilst those that mentioned they did not have any friends reported that they liked school less.

Despite the positive influence of the peer group during adolescence, the higher the adolescent’s autonomy from the peer group, the higher his/her resilience against its influence. This resilience seems to increase with age, which may mean that it is associated with youngsters’ maturity; and girls emerge in several studies as more resilient than boys ( Sumter, Bokhorst, Steinberg & Westenberg, 2009 ). Another factor that may be found in the influence of the peer group is the type of friendship, which adolescents maintain with their peer group: if friends are close they have a greater influence on the other’s behaviours ( Glaser, Shelton & Bree, 2010 ). When the friendship is perceived as reciprocal and of quality, is exerts greater influence ( Mercken, Snijders, Steglich, Vartiainen & Vries, 2010 ). Another factor, which has been identified as a possible factor of decreasing peer influence is assertive refusal. Adolescents that are able to maintain an assertive refusal are less susceptible to the group’s influence ( Glaser, Shelton & Bree, 2010 ). These are only some variables identified as possible factors decreasing peer influence.

The relation with parents may be a mitigating factor of the negative influence by peers. Communicating family rules and parental style have been inversely associated to substance, alcohol and tobacco consumption during adolescence. This influence is essential for adolescents’ development up to adulthood. Communication between parents and adolescents emerges as a protective factor for alcohol, tobacco and substance use ( Newman, Harrison & Dashiff, 2008 ).

Sen (2010) observed that family meals could lead to creating a closer relation between parents and adolescents, by strengthening a positive relationship and avoiding certain risk behaviours, such as substance use amongst girls and alcohol consumption, physical violence and robberies, amongst boys. These differences between genders may be due to a greater importance that girls attribute to family activities, but they do not reveal that boys are indifferent to them, only that the relation between genders may differ. Huebner and Howell (2003) verified that parental monitoring and communication with parents protected adolescents of both genders from being involved in risk behaviours.

Parental monitoring can be defined as parents’ knowledge about their children’s activities, who they hang out with and what they do. It has been associated to protection of various risk behaviours throughout adolescence, such as substance use or sexual behaviours. It may vary according to age, gender or ethnicity and it generally decreases with age ( Westling, Andrews, Hampson & Peterson, 2008 ).

Tobler and Komro (2010) confirmed with a sample made up of 2,621 adolescents in the 6 th and 8 th grades that the role of parents in the prevention of substance use during adolescence is essential; and that communication and parental monitoring were the factors, which most contributed to those results.

The greater the parental monitorings, the lower the adolescents’ involvement in risk behaviour. Li, Stanton and Feigelman (2000) confirmed in a longitudinal study with afro-American children and adolescents, that parental monitoring was a very important factor in reducing risk behaviour. Parental monitoring emerged as inversely correlated with risk behaviours. The correlation persisted throughout age, suggesting that its protective effect is persistent in the long-term. Other studies found associations between parental monitoring and substance use and other behavioural problems amongst youth ( Simons-Morton & Chen, 2005 ).

Rai and collaborators (2003) also found a positive influence associated with parental monitoring, namely protection against substance use and sexual behaviours, but not condom use. On the other hand, the peer group was found to influence all risk behaviours assessed by the authors. The youngsters that had the perception of the involvement of peers in certain behaviours were more involved in similar behaviours; the same was found for those that presented a problematic relationship with their parents.

Literature seems to suggest that the peer group has an important role throughout adolescence; nevertheless it may influence negatively adolescents’ risk behaviours, by enhancing their involvement in such actions. On the other hand, parents have a protective role in the same behaviours, generally associated with good communication and parental monitoring.

Taking into account the aforementioned findings, the aim of this study will be to analyse how peer influence is associated with: 1) risk behaviour, 2) violence, 3) health behaviour, 4) well-being and 5) feelings about school; and whether that influence may be moderated by adolescents’ relations with parents.

The sample used was the group of adolescents that participated in the 2006 Portuguese survey (continental Portugal) of the European study Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) ( http://www.hbsc.org ).

The HBSC Study started in 1982 with a team of researchers from Finland, Norway and England and from 1985/86 it has been carried out every four years. Throughout the years, the study has grown in importance and currently there are 44 participating countries from Europe and North America, in collaboration with the World Health Organisation ( Currie et al. , 2004 ; Currie, Samdal, Boyce, & Smith, 2001 ). Portugal has participated in the survey since 1996, when an initial pilot study adapted to the Portuguese population was carried out, in accordance with the international protocol ( www.hbsc.org.com ). The study aims to understand further adolescent behaviour in relation to health and to understand health and well-being in the social context, by gathering data that enable national and international comparisons.

The Portuguese study in 2006 included students from grades 6, 8 and 10 within the public education system, with an average age of 14 years (SD =1.89). The total sample is 4,877 students from 257 school classes in 125 Portuguese schools selected randomly. In the present study, due to the statistical analisis used, 1,238 students were left out, which accounts for a final total sample of 3,639 adolescents. It is representative of the abovementioned school years and stratified by Administrative Education Regions. Students were distributed in the following manner: 50,4% were girls; 31,7% were in grade 6, 35.,7% in grade 8 and 32,6% in grade 10.

2.2 Procedure

The analysis unit used was the class. In each school, classes were randomly selected with the aim to find the needed number in each class, which was proportional to the number provided by the Ministry of Education. Teachers administered the questionnaire in the classroom. Students’ participation was voluntary. Schools and participating classes were selected randomly, out of a list provided by the Ministry for Education. The questionnaires were sent to teachers with the procedure, where it was explicitly asked that the students’ participation was to be anonymous and voluntary. The students that did not wish to complete the questionnaire could leave the classroom.

2.3 Measures and Variables

The HBSC Survey 2006 was used for the data gathering, in accordance with the respective protocol. Amongst other, this questionnaire provides demographic data, well-being indicators (life quality related with health, happiness and life satisfaction) and indicators on peer relations ( Matos et al. , 2006 ; Currie et al. , 2004 ; Currie, Samdal, Boyce & Smith, 2001 ). In this study, variables associated with adolescents’ relations with peer groups, their relations with parents, school environment and behaviours of risk, violence and well-being were used.

2.4 Statistical Analysis

With the aim to analyse the proposed explanation model, the SEM was used, as a means to assess the quality of mediation of a group of variables. The statistical software EQS, Structural Modelling Software, version 6.1 was used.

Before completely testing the model, it was necessary to test the model partially, through a confirmatory factorial analysis (CFA). Three mediation models were tested: the independent mediation model, which tested the relation of the mediation quality between the independent variables, defined by peer influence, through friends with risk behaviours, made up of five indicators about type of friends, friends with protective behaviours; three indicators about friends’ protective behaviours, communication with friends comprised of three indicators and friendship quality, comprised of ten indicators about friendship quality. The mediating mediation model was comprised of the variables related with adolescents’ relation with parents through communication with the father and the mother, as well as, parental monitoring, comprised of five indicators associated with what parents know about their children. Finally, the dependent mediation model, tested the quality of mediation between the dependent variables, namely low involvement in risk behaviours, comprised of three indicators associated with tobacco, alcohol and drug use; low involvement in violent behaviours, comprised of three indicators associated with provocation, carrying a weapon and involvement in fighting; health, comprised of eleven indicators related with physical and psychological symptoms; well-being, comprised of twelve indicators associated with happiness, life satisfaction and adolescents’ quality of life; and feelings about school, comprised of one indicator ( Bentler, 1995 ).

After the mediation models’ analysis some indicators with saturations lower than. 40 were eliminated. In total eight indicators were eliminated. Covariances between error measures were also introduced, in a total of eight covariances, two in the independent mediation model and six in the mediating mediation model.

3.1 Analysis of the Mediation Model

In the realisation of the model, 1,238 participants were eliminated from the sample. The results obtained in relation to the adequacy of the explanation model proposed showed that it presented lower levels of adequacy ( see Table 1 , step 1). However, the analysis of the results obtained in the Langrange Multiplier test (LM test), a test that assesses the need to add new parameters to the model ( Bentler, 1995 ), showed that the introduction of some connections between factors, would decrease significantly the value of the qui-square, amongst other, the parental monitoring factor, the communication with parents factor and the factor on less involvement in violence behaviours. Amongst the factor on less involvement in risk behaviours and the factor friends with risk behaviours. Amongst the factor low involvement in violence behaviours, the factor on friends with protective behaviours and the factor on less involvement in risk behaviours. Amongst the factor on health and the factor on friendship quality, the communication with friends factor, less involvement in risk behaviours and the factor on well-being, and amongst the factor on feeling about school and less involvement in risk behaviour. A decision was made to add them and to re-evaluate the model ( see Table 1 , step 2). After the introduction of these parameters, the results show better levels of adequacy of the model. Finally, the results obtained in the Wald test, which show the non significant m odel parameters ( Bentler, 1995 ), were analysed. These showed the existence of some non significant relations, which were eliminated, namely between communication with parents and friends with protective behaviours; between parental monitoring, friends with risk behaviours and communication with friends; between lower involvement in risk behaviours and communication with parents; between lower involvement in risk behaviours and parental monitoring; and between health and parental monitoring. The results obtained after the elimination of these parameters are shown in Table 1 , step 3.

Adjustment index

shows that the procedures undertaken have improved the adjustment index of the structural model. It can be seen that the adjustment index are acceptable and that the model shows a good adequacy.

The standardised solution obtained (Figure 1) allows to confirm that the factors with a stronger impact in relation to lesser involvement in risk behaviours are having friends with risk behaviours ( β =-.83). The negative indicator shows that the lower the number of friends with risk behaviours, the lower the involvement in risk behaviours. For a lower involvement in violence behaviours, the factors with a greater impact are a lesser involvement in risk behaviours ( β =.58), followed by friends with protective behaviours ( β =.35) and communication with parents ( β =-.21). Following this, the lower the involvement in risk behaviours and the greater number of friends with protective behaviours, the lower the involvement in violence behaviours. On the other hand, the negative Beta figure shows that the worse the communication with parents, the lower the adolescents’ probability in not getting involved in violence behaviours. The factors with a greater impact on health are well-being ( β =.54), a lower involvement in risk behaviours ( β =.13) and friendship quality ( β =-.08). These demonstrate that the greater the well-being, the lower the involvement in risk behaviours and the worse the quality of friendships, the greater the number of health behaviours. The factor with a greater impact on well-being was communication with parents ( β =.49), which demonstrated that the better the communication with parents, the greater the number of well-being feelings. And in relation to the feeling about school, the lower involvement in risk behaviours is the factor with a greater impact ( β =.34), meaning that the lower the involvement in risk behaviours, the more adolescents enjoy school.

In relation to mediating factors, for the communication with parents, the factor with a greater impact was communication with friends ( β =.29) and friends with risk behaviours ( β =-.18), which suggests that the better the communication with friends and the lower the number of friends with risk behaviours, the better the communication with parents. Communicating easily with parents emerges as a mediating effect between easy communication with friends and involvement in violence behaviours and well-being; and between the type of friends and the violence behaviours and well-being. This relation shows that the easier the communication with friends is, the easier the communication with parents will be and the better adolescents will feel (greater well-being). The type of friends shows a similar effect: the lower the number of friends with risk behaviours, the easier the communication with parents will be and the greater well-being. On the other hand, the relation between the same variables and the violence behaviours is negative, meaning that, the harder the communication with parents, the lower the involvement in risk behaviours. For parental monitoring, the lower involvement in violence behaviours ( β =.36) and communication with parents ( β =.33) show that the lower the involvement in violence behaviours and better communication with parents, the more parents tend to monitor adolescents’ behaviours.

Factors’ explained variances, as well as residual ones are presented in Table 2 . It shows that having less friends with risk behaviours, explains 67% of the variance of lower involvement in risk behaviours. Being less involved in risk behaviours, worse communication with parents and friends with a protective behaviour explain 45% of the variance of lower involvement in violence behaviours. Feelings of well-being, a lower involvement in risk behaviours and having low quality friendships explain 34% of the variance of health behaviours. A good communication with parents explains 26% of the variance of adolescents’ feelings of well-being. And a lesser involvement in risk behaviours explains 13% of the variance of feelings about school. Concerning the mediating factors, it was found that communication with friends and having less friends with risk behaviours explains approximately 10% of the variance of communication with parents and less involvement in violence behaviours; whilst good communication with parents explains 21% of the parental monitoring variance.

Explained variance

In relation to the correlation between independent factors, all correlations are positive and significant, with the exception of the correlation between friends with risk behaviours. Friendship quality was not estimated, as it emerged as a non-significant independent variable in the mediation model.


4. Discussion

The aim of the present study was to confirm the influence of the peer group in risk behaviours, violence, health, well-being and in adolescents’ feelings about school; as well as, whether the relationship with parents may mediate that influence, through an explanatory model undertaken by a structural equation model.

Several studies show the important role played by peers in adolescents’ behaviours ( Glaser, Shelton & Bree, 2010 ; Simões, Matos & Foguet, 2006 ).

Undoubtedly, friends are one of the most important contexts throughout adolescence. They prevent feelings of loneliness, influence well-being, happiness, health, they help promoting good school achievements and to acquire essential social skills for adult life ( Tomé, Matos & Diniz, 2008 ; Hughes, Dyer, Luo & Kwok, 2009 ; Camacho, Tomé, Matos, Gamito & Diniz, 2010 ). On the other hand, friends also emerge as the variable most frequently associated with involvement in risk behaviours ( Glaser, Shelton & Bree, 2010 ; Padilla, Walker & Bean, 2009 ; Sieving, Perry & Williams, 2000 ). That influence may be prevented through specific health promotion interventions, which include peers and parents. To prevent that influence presupposes to know what variables are included in that process and which of those may have a mediating role, may influence positively and may diminish negative factors.

The relationship with parents is indicated as a protective variable towards the involvement in risk behaviours and the increase of adolescents’ health and well-being, being it a factor that may also mediate the relationship between adolescents and their peers ( Newman, Harrison & Dashiff, 2008 ; Alvarez, Martin & Vergeles, 2003 ). Parental communication and monitoring are two faces of that relation, which are mostly identified as enablers of well-being and protective of the involvement in behaviours, which may endanger health. There are a number of studies that show the importance of the positive relation with parents and their protective role, through the proximity between parents and children (Sean, 2010; Luk, Farhat, Ianoti, & Simons-Morton, 2010). That way, the easiness of communication with parents and the fact that parents know of their children’s activities may be the two most important variables, in the mediation of peers’ influence.

In the present study, it was expected to see that parents have a mediating role in the influence by the peer group in relation to adolescents’ behaviours. But the results achieved through the proposed model have not confirmed that role, in relation with to the communication and parental monitoring variables. Communication with parents showed a mediating effect, but the same did not happen for parental monitoring. These effects are evident between communication with parents, the type of friends with risk behaviours and communication with friends, towards less involvement in violence behaviours and well-being. The mediating relations found show that the lower the number of friends with risk behaviour that adolescents have, the easier communicating with parents will be and, in its turn, the higher levels of well-being they will have. The same happens for the mediation with communication with friends. But concerning the relation between the type of friends with risk behaviours and communication with friends, with communication with parents and a lower involvement in risk behaviours, the relation was negative. Consequently, a harder communication with parents, leads to lower levels of involvement in violent behaviours. This negative relation between communicating with parents and a lower involvement in violence behaviours may be associated with the strong impact that the indicators used in the relation between adolescents and the peer group had, in their behaviours; which may have annulled the positive impact of communication with parents in relation to those behaviours. This effect suggests that having an easy communication with friends and having less friends with risk behaviours are protective factors in the involvement in violent behaviours, without needing the mediation of easy communication with parents.

Having a higher number of friends with more risk behaviours also emerges as a factor with a high impact in involvement in risk behaviours, which is in line with several studies that have identified peers as the variable with the greatest influence in the involvement in such behaviours ( Glaser, Shelton & Bree, 2010 ; Sieving, Perry & Williams, 2000 ). On the other hand, the factor with a greatest impact in low involvement in violence behaviours is a low involvement in risk behaviours and having a higher number of friends involved in protective behaviours. This means that, having friends with little risk behaviours and having friends with protective behaviours, prevent violence and risk behaviours.

A lower involvement in risk behaviours is yet identified as the variable, which positively influences adolescents’ health, together with feelings of well-being; and the variable with influences positively, adolescents’ feelings about school. Taking into account that adolescents seem to choose to be less involved in risk behaviours when they have friends that are not involved in risk behaviours; although peers’ influence is indirectly related, it is very important for adolescents’ health and well-being, as suggested in other studies with similar results ( Tomé, Matos & Diniz, 2008 ; Laftman & Ostberg, 2006 ; Ueno, 2004 ).

Parents’ role seems to be more important for the variables associated with adolescents’ well-being and health ( Camacho et al. , 2010 ; Newman, Harrison & Dashiff, 2008 ), considering that communication with parents emerges as the factor with a stronger impact in adolescents’ well-being, which has a stronger impact in health. This presupposes that a better communication with parents means stronger feelings of well-being and, as a result, healthier adolescents.

Parental monitoring does not emerge as a significant variable neither in the mediation of risk and violent behaviours or the promotion of well-being, health or feelings about school. It is reinforced by communication with parents and it is dependent upon a lower involvement in violence behaviours. That dependency shows an unexpected result. Contrary to what is documented in literature ( Camacho et al. , 2010 ; Newman, Harrison & Dashiff, 2008 ), it seems that parental monitoring is greater when adolescents’ involvement in violence behaviours is lower and not the opposite. But we cannot ignore their essential role in parents’ relationship with adolescents ( Huebner & Howell, 2003 ) and take into account the fact that there may be differences associated with gender, age and other variables ( Westling et al. , 2008 ), which may influence the results found and limit the impact of the variables analysed.

Another indicator, which did not show an impact in the studied variables, is quality of the friendship, despite the fact that literature shows that the strongest the quality and reciprocity, the more influencing it can be ( Glaser, Shelton & Bree, 2010 ; Mercken et al. , 2010 ). Regardless of this, it shows a positive correlation with communication with friends and in friends with a stronger involvement in protective behaviours, which enhances the friendships’ role in maintaining a positive influence. The negative impact of the quality of the friendship, although it is weak, shows that when the friendship is of low quality, adolescents tend to focus in other areas, such as health.

The results show that the role of peers may be relevant to the risk behaviours, violence, well-being, health and feelings about school, directly and indirectly. Influence, whether positive or negative, is associated with the type of behaviours adopted by friends. As a result, friends that have a higher involvement in risk behaviours have a higher probability in influencing negatively their peers; whilst friends that have more protective behaviours and more easiness in communicating, strengthened by friendships with quality have higher probability of influencing positively their peers. Parents’ role must not be ignored in the mediation of that influence; however it did not emerge as having as strong an impact as expected.

Health promotion interventions targeted at adolescents should take into account the important and positive role that peers may have in the adoption of a healthy lifestyle.

The model presented aimed to understand the influence of peers in adolescents’ behaviours and the role of parents was integrated as a mediation factor, which turned out to be not as significant as expected. For future studies, whose aim is to explore further the relation between these two essential contexts for adolescents’, it is recommended that the relation with peers is transferred to the mediation role and between the relation with parents and their behaviours. Those results could potentially highlight the interaction between both contexts, differently.

5. Conclusion

The aim of the present study was to analyse the influence of the peer group in risk behaviours, violence, in health, in well-being and in adolescents’ feelings about school; as well as, whether the relationship with parents may mediate that influence, through an explanatory model undertaken by a structural equation model.

The most important conclusion to be drawn from this study was that peers’ negative or positive influence is associated with peers with risk or protective behaviours, respectively.

Adolescents’ communication with parents has a stronger impact in their health and well-being.

Parental monitoring is influenced by adolescents’ non-involvement in violent behaviours and easiness in communicating with parents.

6. Limitations

Some of the limitations found in the present study include the fact that the questionnaire is made up of category-type questions, which make the statistical analyses difficult. The fact that a number of participants were lost throughout the analysis was also a negative factor in obtaining and exploring results. Those participants were excluded because they did not responde to the variables used in the study. This type of transversal study does not enable us to find cause effects, only to verify the association between the variables.

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What is Peer Pressure and Who is at Risk?

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Have you ever done something you didn’t want to do in order to belong to a friend group or because you were worried about “looking cool?” These are classic results of peer pressure but don’t worry, you are not alone! Approximately 90 percent of teens reported having experienced peer pressure, which is commonly defined as any external force of influence on our decisions that might have an effect on our physical or mental health.

Peer pressure happens quite frequently– on social media, amongst our friend groups, at school, and sometimes even in our home. Peer pressure is often thought of as negative, due to influencing decision-making, but it can also be a positive thing. Positive peer pressure might look like encouraging friends to join a play, the pressure to do well on assignments, or influencing kids to try new foods at home. Unfortunately, peer pressure also has the ability to be negative if it restrains you from making a decision yourself or causes emotional or physical consequences.

Peer pressure can happen to anyone at any age, but it’s important to know why peer pressure might happen to better prepare you in setting boundaries. “Oftentimes peer pressure happens because we don’t want to be the only ones doing something,” says Karen Hasselman, School-Based Therapist at Centerstone. Some indicators that someone is being pressured might be an increase in nervousness, secretive behaviors, anxiety or depression, or behavior issues like skipping school.

“Children tend to give in to peer pressure for a couple of different reasons. One might be they don’t have a lot of relationships or friendships, and they fear the risk of losing them. Another might be that it is easier to go along with the crowd rather than going against it,” says Hasselman. When your experience with peer pressure becomes a threat to your health—physically and mentally, it is important to evaluate those relationships and involve a trusted individual (parent, teacher, and friend) who might be able to help you.

Here are some ways you can help combat peer pressure:

Ultimately, you have the ability to discern when things are good or bad for you. Allow yourself the space to make decisions when you are comfortable and know that it is okay to set boundaries and say no.

If you or someone you know is struggling with setting boundaries, Centerstone can help. Call 1-877-HOPE123 (1-877-467-3123) for more information.

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American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry


No. 104; Updated March 2018

Peers play a large role in the social and emotional development of children and adolescents. Their influence begins at an early age and increases through the teenage years. It is natural, healthy and important for children to have and rely on friends as they grow and mature.

Peers can be positive and supportive. They can help each other develop new skills, or stimulate interest in books, music or extracurricular activities.

However, peers can also have a negative influence. They can encourage each other to skip classes, steal, cheat, use drugs or alcohol, share inappropriate material online, or become involve in other risky behaviors. The majority of teens with substance abuse problems began using drugs or alcohol as a result of peer pressure. This pressure can happen in person or on social media.

Kids often give in to peer pressure because they want to fit in. They want to be liked and they worry that they may be left out or made fun of if they don't go along with the group.

The following are tips about peer pressure to share with your kids:

Parents can also help by recognizing when their child is having a problem with peer pressure. The following are tips for parents to help your child deal with peer pressure:

If your child has ongoing difficulties with peer pressure, talk to his or her teacher, principal, school counselor or family doctor. If you have questions or concerns about your child's mood, self-esteem or behavior, consider a consultation with a trained and qualified mental health professional.

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  1. What Are Examples of Peer Pressure?

    Peer pressure is when someone influences another person’s decision about what to do or not to do, which can be positive or negative. Although peer pressure can occur at any age, it’s most often experienced by young people.

  2. What Causes Peer Pressure?

    Peer pressure can have many causes, including curiosity, the desire to fit in and a lack of structure at home. Peer pressure is the influence that children and teens often feel to conform to certain standards or engage in certain practices.

  3. What Are Some Causes and Effects of Peer Pressure?

    Some of the causes of peer pressure include parental neglect, fear of being ridiculed and low self esteem. Anyone that crumbles in the face of peer pressure is likely to get involved in unbecoming behavior and activities.

  4. Peer pressure or influence: pre-teens and teenagers

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  5. 6 Negative Effects Of Peer-Pressure

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  6. Peer Pressure (for Teens)

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  7. How Does Peer Pressure Affect a Teen's Social Development?

    “Teens have extra unconnected synapses in the area where risk-assessment occurs, and this gets in the way of judgement. In addition, the

  8. Peer Pressure: How Peers Influence Your Child

    Arguments or distance from family and friends: Negative peer pressure tends to make us feel bad about ourselves, and this can cause us to

  9. The Power of Peers

    Teens are especially responsive to peer influence. That's because their brains undergo changes that make them highly attuned to social situations.

  10. How Can Peer Group Influence the Behavior of Adolescents

    The results show that peers have a direct influence in adolescents' risk behaviours. The relationship with parents did not demonstrate the expected mediation

  11. What is Peer Pressure and Who is at Risk?

    Peer pressure happens quite frequently– on social media, amongst our friend groups, at school, and sometimes even in our home. Peer pressure is often

  12. (PDF) Dealing with Peer Pressure

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  13. Peer Pressure

    However, peers can also have a negative influence. They can encourage each other to skip classes, steal, cheat, use drugs or alcohol, share inappropriate

  14. Peer pressure and drugs: Definition, risk factors, and addiction

    Most people want acceptance, especially in adolescence. Being subject to peer rejection can be very painful, and a person who feels unable to