The Psychology Behind Why Teens Act The Way They Do
High school is one of the most important times during a teen’s life. It’s when they are going through different emotions, joining various clubs and activities, and making friends with people who will impact their lives greatly. But above all else, it is during this time that many teens fall to peer pressure. In high school, peer pressure is mainly derived from the feelings of wanting to fit in.
The teen years are marked by a time of uncertainty and trying new things to see what they like. A lot of the decisions that teenagers make are influenced by the people around them. According to psychologist Alice Langholt, teenagers develop a strong desire to be accepted by their friends in school, causing them to fall easily to their peers’ standards. They will act accordingly and make decisions based on others’ opinions. Peer pressure can cause teens to be rash in their decisions and engage in dangerous activities such as driving recklessly, drinking while underage, and doing drugs. Many students see the dangerous activities as “cool” and an easy way to be recognized by their peers. Many high school students are unaware of how much their actions now can impact their future and how future colleges and businesses will view them negatively.
Peer pressure doesn’t occur only in school – it is also prevalent on social media. According to a study by Secure Teen, social media has given rise to “virtual peer pressure” in which strangers on the internet play a role in influencing an individual’s actions. 75 percent of teenagers that were interviewed said that the posts that they see online greatly affect their behavior. Many people who see posts of models, people smoking, and others will think that it is alright for them to do so as well since others are doing it. Orly Katz, a youth empowerment and life skills expert, explains that virtual peer pressure can be more effective and dangerous since it doesn’t end in high school. It carries on with the student all throughout college and into their career life. Furthermore, many people have access to the internet, allowing them to spread negative messages faster and causing peer pressure to build at an alarming rate. As the never ending cycle of posting and sharing continues, peer pressure continues to spread across social media, infecting the teens who read them.
Although it is hard to stop peer pressure, there are still ways to minimize its effects. Students can learn to be more assertive and learn to make educated decisions in order to act the way they want to, not what their friends want them to. If necessary, students can also set help from adults or people that they trust. Students can also learn to choose their friends wisely. It is important to choose people who will provide support rather than pressure. Students should experience different situations so that they can learn and grow. After all, it is the teenager’s prime time for trying out new things.