Peer Pressure

The main issue facing 8th graders today

By: Regan McKay

Peer pressure is a major problem 8th graders, and teenagers in general are facing today. What is peer pressure? Peer pressure is the impact another person makes on one's initial decisions. Say, for example, you were a girl trying on dresses in the local clothing store with your friend, trying to decide which dress you should wear to the dance. You have two options to choose from: a long, dark blue dress, or a bright, fiery yellow dress. You like the dark blue dress more; you feel more comfortable in it, but your friend likes the yellow dress. Afraid of not fitting in with her friend's standards, you buy the yellow dress, and leave the blue dress behind. This happens in a teenager's life on a daily basis. Everyone has a true opinion on everything, but many people nowadays shy away from it, in fear of being judge by someone they love, or admire in some way.

Why would someone follow another's lead, even when they know it's not right? Well, there are several possible reasons. They could be wanting to fit in with a certain clique, feel accepted within the current "norm", or simply just believe another person's ideas or opinions mean more than yours, and want to follow them. An article from the University of Michigan says, "The nature of close friendship is that you care more about them and their opinions than those of anybody else. What your best friend approves of or disapproves of exerts great pressure on you. This pressure is personal and forceful." This shows that in a number of close friends, peer pressure is usually what keeps the relationship going, making your friends appreciate you more because you are more like them in a way. But how can you have a strong relationship with someone else if you are constantly changing yourself for another person's approval? Looking from the other point of view, how can you like someone that always changes their mind according to you?

If you would notice the graph above shows a comparison between different age groups and how much time they spend with friends versus being alone. It is obvious the teen/adolescence spends the most time with their friends rather than alone. This can affect the choices teenagers are making. When people spend more time around their friends, their values and beliefs seem to alter to another's perspective. Teens should learn to stand up and be their own, independent beings, no matter what the circumstances.

In the experiment from the video, adolescents were tested to see if they would get in the car with someone who had been drinking earlier that day. There were three of them being experimented on, and the all got in the car with no hesitation. While they were reflecting on the experiment after being told what happened, most of them said they didn't question it because they didn't want to speak out, or be the annoying person who is worried about everything. This is an example of peer pressure. They didn't want to come off as someone who wanted to "stop the fun." This could have been very dangerous if this was an actual event and not just an experiment. There could have been an accident that changed the lives of everyone in that car, all because no one wanted to speak up and tell him it would not be a good idea for him to drive. This is often how peer pressure is set up in our daily lives. No one wants to speak out against something that everyone seems to agree with, so they just go with it. Peer pressure is one of the main components to many teenagers underage drinking, or doing illegal drugs because they don't want to seem different from everyone else in a negative way.

In conclusion, peer pressure is one of the major problems facing eighth graders today. It is the main decision making process for teenagers, wether they want to fit into a clique or want acceptance into their era of adulthood. It consumes many adolescents because of how much time they spend with friends versus just being alone to contemplate on their decisions. It is a problem needing to be faced through independence and self-acceptance. If everyone bases their decisions off of a single source, our world will have no sense of reality and diversity. It would be a world not worth living in.