Peer pressure: How to deal with it

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Peer pressure: How to deal with it

Kayla smith, contributer

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At some point in your life, you will face peer pressure. Peer pressure can occur in so many different ways and can immensely affect someones life. The definition of Peer pressure is the direct influence on people by peers, or the effect on an individual who gets encouraged to follow their peers by changing their attitudes, values or behaviors to conform to those of the influencing group or individual. Peer pressure is a common thing in today’s society, in fact, thirty percent of all teenagers are affected by it. However the percentage gets higher with teens in high school (10th-12th grade).In some situations peer pressure can be as simple as dealing with parents; Feeling like you have to live up to their expectations. But most teenage peer pressure situations involve drugs, alcohol, cigarettes/vape etc.

Temple University did a study on peer pressure and their results showed that peer pressure does in fact have an affect on the brain, especially in teenagers. The human brain does not fully mature until at least the age of twenty five which would also be known as an ‘Adult brain’. Scientists have discovered that teen brains and adult brains work differently.

The adult brain thinks with the prefrontal cortex. The cortex is divided into four different lobes, the frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital. Basically these parts of the brain respond to situations with being aware of long term consequences and good judgment. Because the brain is fully developed at around the age of twenty five, it starts to work all together in a way. The brain begins to use all parts of itself for decision making, planning and many other things.

A teenager processes information with the Amygdala, located close to the Hippo-campus, in the frontal portion of the temporal lobe. The Amygdala is what give the human immediate reactions including fear and aggressive behavior. This part of the brain develops before the Cortex, which helps a person think before they act.

Teenagers spend a large amount of time with their peers. This time affects their actions because they focus so much on what each other think and if one feels pressure from others they are more likely to fall into the temptation rather than make the smarter choice and do what is best for them. The brain at the age of a teenager is more sensitive to the reward value of risky behavior. In other words making stupid decisions is easier because the brain doesn’t process the consequences.

Peer pressure has a huge affect on teenagers especially. There are numerous stories relating to peer pressure situations:

Ryan (age 15) said:  “I like cars a lot. Me and my friends started stealing cars over a year ago. I didn’t want to do it but we all felt we could have some fun and get away with it… I’ve been caught twice by the cops and they say if I do this again I will go to jail. I don’t like what this has done to my mom and dad. They don’t want me to hang with these guys anymore but they’re my friends… I wouldn’t do this on my own but when I’m with the guys it makes me feel good and I can do stuff.”

Alison (age 18) said: “I started doing drugs when I was 15. All my friends were into it and I honestly felt it was ok to do the stuff with them. I now know that I shouldn’t have done and it has taken me over a year to get back to where I’m at today. I’ve got drugs out of my body. I still don’t feel good about it and some days can be better than others… but I’m looking forwards, not backwards. I think that’s important. I know it was peer pressure that got me into that stuff. We all got screwed up. My advice to anyone is if you know that you shouldn’t do stuff then don’t do it – even if your friends think it’s cool. It’s not worth it… and your life gets messed up. I still have some of my friends but they’ve changed. They’re still trying to get their lives together. Don’t do drugs. You only get one body and only you can look after it.”

sources:

Peer Pressure: Some True Stories

https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=3051

https://www.google.com/search?q=what+parts+of+the+brain+do+teenagers+use&oq=what+pa&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i57j0l4.4250j0j9&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

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