Peer Pressure in the Age of Technology

Peer pressure, simply put, is the influence of  people and surroundings on an individual or group. Teenagers are caught in between childhood and becoming an adult. This transition is difficult and many times teens look to outside sources for both information and a place to fit in. The internet offers a teenager a place to be whoever he chooses to be. He can be a 17 year old high school boy or if he chooses he can be a 25 year old college man. Unfortunately, this holds true for the people online that he may chat or exchange information with. That 18 year old senior in high school may actually be a 56 year old man with a record of abusing children.

With all the information out there and all the stories read about the dangers of the internet why would he still want to be online? That brings us back to peer pressure. Where it used to be the shoes you wore or whether or not you smoked, today peer pressure extends far beyond. Now, the cool thing to do is have a myspace profile or a facebook profile. It is not the websites that are bad. In fact, both websites are used to introduce or reunite friends. The danger lies with who is behind a screen name. Whether or not that person is who he says he is. Every day young girls and boys go to meet complete strangers that they think they know. Every day there are stories of young boys and girls being hurt or even killed by these strangers that they, in fact, never really knew.  

How can parents protect the teenagers from this without isolating the teenager from his peers?

  1. Communicate with your teen. It is not about talking to your teen. It is about communicating with your teen. Conversation should always be two sided.  
  2. The goal is not to instill fear in a teenager. The goal is to instill facts. You do not want your teenager scared of life, you want him informed.
  3. Create a profile together with your teen and require that he give you the password. Inform your teen that you will monitor the account and who he is talking to.
  4. If ever in doubt as to someone's identity on his profile, delete. It is as simple as that. Remember you are the parent and you are protecting him.  

If you see him using a profile to bully or slander another individual take charge. Delete the profile. Remember another form of peer pressure is bullying and slander. Teens measure the importance of other teens by their actions even when those actions are negative.

In summary, it is important to stay involved in every aspect of a teenagers life. Through the years it was keeping track of people, places and things. A parent could physically see or touch the things within the teenagers life. Even then controlling peer pressure was hard. Now parents must also be aware of the things they cannot see or touch. If parents work together and report any suspicious activities online as well as working with teenagers to keep them informed we can at least begin to control peer pressure in the age of technology.

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Teenage peer pressure can be highly influential with the constant process of making choices and weighing what they have been told by parents, peers, the media, teachers and other sources of information. Any one of these influences can be attractive to a teen.

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