How to Resist Negative Peer Pressure
We are all influenced by our peers, both negatively and positively, at any age. Negative peer influence can be hard to resist because you may feel compelled to do something you’re uncomfortable with.
In a study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), teen volunteers played a driving video game, either alone or with friends watching. The researchers discovered the number of risks teens took in the driving game more than doubled when their friends were watching as compared to when the teens played the game alone. This outcome indicates that teens may find it more difficult to control impulsive or risky behaviors when their friends are around, or in situations that are emotionally charged.
Teens are likely to engage in risky behavior because they are trying to show off to their peers and make them think that they’re relevant and cool. Being human means seeking acceptance from others, but engaging in dangerous behavior should not impress people and potentially get into trouble because our friends may push us into doing illegal things just so we can stay a part of the group. We should focus on making ourselves happy, and staying out of trouble.
Bullying is another reason why we should be cautious of negative peer pressure. Seeing our friends bullying others, in person or online, can make us feel pressured to get involved. It might seem fun in the moment, but we can wind up feeling embarrassed, guilty, or ashamed. Also, we can be labeled as scapegoats if our friends get into trouble. We will have to take as much blame because we sat back and didn’t stop the abuse. If you see your friends harassing someone who isn’t cool with the criticism, don’t be a bystander and tell them to cut the crap.
Sitting back and letting your friends bully other people makes you guilty by association.
Importantly, negative peer pressure can also cause doubt. We will doubt ourselves because we think we are missing out. I have been through peer pressure myself. Back in high school, I had acquaintances who would tease me because I didn’t hook up or lose my virginity. I admit I doubted myself because I was conflicted with my morals. I always believed virginity was important, and seeing most of my peers hook up made me feel I was missing out. Peer pressure can cause us to make choices that we could regret later. Thankfully, I did not fall victim, because if I had, I would have been with myself.
It’s unusual that strangers and friends can dictate how we should live, eat, and fashion. Do we want people telling us what’s best for us when we know what’s best for us? If a person tells us what’s best for us and we accept it, we have given up dignity. Dignity is our self-respect. We control our thoughts and actions.
If we give up dignity, we sacrifice our morals for toxic relationships.
I overcame negative peer pressure by thinking independently, gaining confidence, and not being swayed by trends or criticism. I became an independent thinker because I was tired of impressing people who didn’t care for me. As a result, I stopped caring about what people wanted. If I see my peers wearing $200 shoes, I wear $60 shoes. I don’t care what anyone says about my lifestyle. If I can resist negative peer pressure, you can do it too.
Lytiek Gethers is a third-year politics major who will not tolerate your negativity. They can be reached at [email protected].