The pressure we feel comes from much more than solely our peers. TV shows, movies and social media apps like Snapchat and Instagram create internal pressure for teenagers. But peer pressure is not a constant negative, nor does it function the way one sees in the movies.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found in a study that teens who have seen pictures on social media of others getting drunk, passed out or using drugs are four times more likely to use marijuana and are three times more likely to use alcohol or tobacco.
Junior Emma Hecht of Wall agrees that negative peer pressure comes from social media.
“The most peer pressure probably comes from social media when you see everyone’s Snapchats of them drinking,” Hecht said.
This negative peer pressure to try things like alcohol, drugs and sex, should not be ignored. But the majority of teenagers are not being coerced to do these things, according to students in their early teens.
Researchers from the MacArthur Foundation conducted a study with 1,500 adolescents and reported their findings when asking eighth graders about peer pressure. Seventy percent of the eighth graders said that none of their friends pressured them to have sex, 88 percent said that none of their friends pressured them to drink and 91 percent said that none of their friends pressured them to use drugs.
Peer pressure does not always relate to negative things like drugs or sex. This positive peer pressure is one we oftentimes overlook. It can be the extra push for those who need encouragement to have fun and try new experiences.
Sophomore Matthew Emery of Ocean Township experienced this type of peer pressure before. “There have been times when my friends encouraged me to do things that have been fun,” Emery said. “This is positive peer pressure because my friends are pressuring and encouraging me to do something that ends up having a positive result.”
Peer pressure, or internal pressure from social media, can be just as healthy as it is harmful. Society should not simply dismiss peer pressure as something destructive. After all, pressure is only positive or negative based on what we are being pressured to do.