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Unmasking the dangers of peer pressure on young people

From misbehaving in class, sending revealing Whatsapp photos, to trying that first cigarette. Peer pressure can take many forms. Young people are more likely to give in to influence from those around them due to their need to fit in and make friends. Peer pressure is often nothing to worry about but it can also be used by perpetrators in more serious issues, such as criminal and sexual exploitation. We delve into the dangers of peer pressure for young minds and explore ways to empower them to take control and make better choices.


The power of conformity

Blonde girl looks away with teenagers talking about her in the distance

The power of conformity

As humans we are inherently social. We crave acceptance from others, and that is especially true for children and young people. There are clear benefits to this. From feeling heard, to improved mood when we are around people we can relate to. In moderation, peer pressure can help shape our thoughts and interests in a healthy way. However, it doesn’t take a lot to tip the balance the wrong way. 

Peer pressure

In a bid to be more popular, young people can start doing things they don’t feel comfortable with. They might join in and steal from the local store on the way home from school, worried that if they don’t, they will be excluded. Or they could be given detention for calling another pupil in class names even though it was out of character. It is these changes in behaviour that can be a sure fire sign that a young person is being tempted by others.

Social media effect 

Peer pressure doesn’t just have to come from those directly around us. As young people’s lives move increasingly online, they have an almost infinite stream of content that can influence them to make decisions.  

There are a lot of social media posts out there that include images of unrealistic lifestyles or body image. Teenagers might start skipping meals or become bulimic in a bid to be as skinny as the influencers they follow. Unrealistic beauty standards like this are not only damaging physically but they can also lead to severe depression and anxiety. With very little regulation, once a young person has viewed this type of content, platform algorithms will serve up more like it, making it very difficult to escape. 

young man standing by sports court in grey hoodie

How TikTok affects children’s mental health

TikTok has taken the world by storm. It has firmly nested itself in the lives of millions of children and teenagers worldwide. While on the surface it seems like a harmless app filled with dance, singing and life hacks, there has been a darkside brewing. In this blog, we will explore the reasons behind this backlash.

Depression and anxiety

As mentioned before, taking part in things to fit in doesn’t have to be a bad thing. However, one of the biggest problems with peer pressure is that it discourages individuality. It teaches young people that to be different is a bad thing and not to accept it. They may never get the opportunity to excel at something they are interested in because it isn’t accepted by others. 

Research shows that there is a clear and direct correlation between peer pressure and depression in young people. Further to this it also results in increased stress levels, anxiety and sleep issues. 

Young people can be left feeling inadequate as they grapple with the pressure to fit in. A fear of rejection or isolation can be paralysing. They may start to lose their sense of self-worth and identity.

Black teenager stands against a wall looking forward

Empowering young minds 

While it would be unrealistic to suggest children and young people can live a life without giving into peer pressure, we can limit its impact and empower them to make independent, informed decisions. Where we can, it is important to celebrate individuality and promote self-confidence and critical thinking, which are often shunned by the pressures to fit in. 

By promoting diversity we can help the next generation feel confident that they can be whoever they want to be, not what others think they should be. 

Author: Edward Herbert