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Negative and Positive Effects of Peer Pressure

By Sanya Saxena and Sharanya Devgon

Not one person will ever go through their life without having been peer pressured before, sometimes, they do not even realise it is peer pressure. Merriam Webster defines peer pressure as “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”. Students are warned not to fall prey to peer pressure when it comes to drugs, sexual intercourse, and more. However, peer pressure does not have to come in negative ways, and can also be positive sometimes.

Primarily, students are taught in school that they will encounter a situation where someone or a group of people will pressure them into doing something that has a negative effect on them. AISSMS (All India Shri Shivaji Memorial Society's) Polytechnic Center of Academic Excellence talks about how someone’s lifestyle can change due to peer pressure, and how sometimes someone may get in the habit of doing something they do not enjoy. This does not only have to be drugs, but because everyone has different interests, it can also include activities such as going shopping, to the movies, etc. Mrs. Santoshi A. Shete mentions how an individual may lose their sense of self after continuous exposure to peer pressure. This happens when conforming to what another wants of one, instead of adhering to their own wants and needs.

When a teenager is exposed to negative peer pressure, it can affect their physical and mental health. As mentioned previously, it may lead to someone losing their sense of self which decreases self-esteem, mood, social behavior, appetite, and more. 

When exposed to decisions that one is reluctant to make, for example skipping school, bullying someone,. the person should set clear boundaries. Tell the person that what they are suggesting is uncomforting, or alternatively, make an excuse. Getting out of these situations is tricky, but when your instincts say that something is not right, that is the first sign of negative peer pressure.

While peer pressure might always seem harmful, there are definitely also some positive effects of peer pressure. Firstly, peer pressure can help to introduce people to different hobbies and interests. Initially, a student might not have any particular interest a certain activity; however, due to the fact that their peers start doing that activity, they might dive into it too and end up enjoying it. 

Peer pressure can also create a sense of belonging and support. Adolescence can be challenging as young people try to answer big questions, like, “Who am I?” and “Do I fit in?” Good friends support each other. They try out ideas with one another before going outside their trusted circles. Or, they may learn to solve conflict together. The goal is for them to struggle through hardships and celebrate successes together. And as they support one another through ups and downs, they build their own internal strength and resilience through the power of their connections to others.

 Peer pressure can also inspire positive choices. An example would be if a group of friends take part in a volunteer project, it may inspire others to take part in something that they may otherwise have not gotten involved with. 

In summary, peer pressure does have many negative effects but it can also have many positive effects that can help teens feel part of a community and develop good relationships. One must always be able to differentiate between the different types of peer pressure. If something is making you uncomfortable then you know that this is negative peer pressure. If you are being pushed out of your comfort zone and challenged in a good way, this is positive peer pressure.