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09-16 How peer pressure affects adolescents in the digital era

How peer pressure affects adolescents in the digital era

Socializing with peers is an important skill to gain, but teens often make mistakes and handling peer pressure can be a challenge they are not prepared for. Now in the modern age of digital communication, navigating between positive and negative peer pressure occurs on an entirely new scale.

According to the latest statistics from the Pew Research Center, 81 percent of teenagers have access to some form of social media while a rising 29 percent of all adolescents utilize social networks to talk with one another on a daily basis. Given this widespread use of new forms of communication combined with the developing mind’s susceptibility to behavioral manipulation, a number of potentially harmful trends are sure to result.

This claim is supported by a 2012 survey from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, which detailed the dangers of social media usage. Adolescents who have seen pictures of others their age drinking, passed out or using illicit substances on social networking sites were also four times more likely to have tried marijuana, more than three times likelier to have consumed alcohol and had a nearly three times higher chance to have used tobacco.

Another form of anxiety associated with online interactions among teens is achieving a perfect body image. According to Marjorie Hogan, M.D., FAAP, children and teenagers become naturally more aware of how their respective image compares to others around them. Especially due to the ease of altering photos and the application of flaw-reducing filters to make people look more attractive, experts report more cases of girls going on dangerous diets and boys trying to gain muscle with potentially harmful supplements due to unnatural expectations.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), recommends that both children and parents must play an active role in order to effectively manage peer pressure. While maturing teens should learn how to use their best judgment to avoid confrontations and unsafe or uncomfortable situations, parents must also practice the following:

  • Encourage open, honest communication between themselves and their children
  • Teach their children assertive self-defenses
  • Help develop confidence in their children
  • Plan to be an available resource to help remove their children from risky circumstances if needed

For problems that extend beyond the reach of a parent’s preventative strategies, contact a source of professional support. Sovereign Health Rancho San Diego is a facility that specializes in treating adolescents and teenagers struggling with substance abuse, mental health disorders and dual diagnosis. Call to speak with a representative today.

Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer

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