Finding the right group of peers

Last Updated : 21 September 2016, 18:29 IST
Last Updated : 21 September 2016, 18:29 IST

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It is said that humans always have a stigma for swaying into the accepted norms of the so-called majority called peers. Peer pressure can be construed as a struggle for acknowledgement, social acceptance and establishing one’s identity amongst a group of similar individuals.

InfluencesWe spend a good part of our life with our peers and are highly influenced by their actions. Modern trends and lifestyle ensure that peers are more like your punching bags and targets of competitiveness and comparison. This is in contradiction to an era where peers were those treasured individuals whom we could always rely on to wipe our tears, share our joy and people to care for.

The fact that the youth succumb to peer pressure has been observed right from one’s childhood. An acknowledgement and acceptance in a peer group seems to be crucial for many. Many times, a person’s confidence level and self-esteem are affected by the actions of the peers. However, the youth needs to understand that having the self-confidence to be oneself helps them distinguish themselves from their peers. The youth need to understand that creating their own identity is also important for building confidence and be an active member of a team. Students should realise that imbibing the actions of the peers need not always be good. So, it is important for them to be able to distinguish what is good for them and what is not. Here is where family can help. However, both family and youngsters can succumb to peer pressure.

Facebook and WhatsApp is seen by many of the young as ‘trendy’, as it has become an accepted form of communication. However, social media attacks by peers have become more stressful for the young since it exposes unwanted information  on a public forum. The exclusion of one’s image in social media pictures have led to a social paranoia termed as FoMO (Fear of Missing Out). It has contributed to more anxiety  among the youth. Research has indicated that the constant checking in on Facebook and WhatsApp might be an outcome of insecure feeling, and heightens comparison.

Avoiding peer pressureTo fit in, many of the students are seen engaging in smoking, drinking and drugs. However, it is important for the young to clearly demarcate their identity from the peer group. They should know how to boldly refuse to be part of such activities. They need to realise that any action by the peer group which pricks their conscience needs to be addressed and if necessary, they should have no qualms in alienating themselves and identifying the right peer group, which replicates the values that they firmly believe in. But how does one fight peer pressure? Here are a few tips:

n Be prudent in identifying the right peers who can accept you and add value to you.

n Strike a balance between achieving one’s individual goals and ensuring social acceptance amongst peers.

n Learn to emphatically say ‘No’ to unethical practices and bad habits.

n Do not give in to any emotional blackmailing.

n Be confident and learn to disengage yourself from your peers to independently take decisions for yourself.

The right group with the right motives can always influence students to be a better individual and help them to focus on the goals to be achieved. The family should also help them identify the right peer group and be supportive rather than accusing the youngsters in times of trouble. 

Peer groups should not be a pressure for the youth; instead it should be a group with whom you can explore and enjoy the pleasures and treasures of life.

(The author is assistant professor, CMRIT, Bengaluru)
Published 21 September 2016, 16:31 IST

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