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Tutterrow: The rise of peer influence over pressure

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Peer pressure is no longer the danger that we should fear. Instead, peer influence has taken over in affecting today’s youth.

Since childhood, parents, teachers and mentors have all explicitly warned us about the dangers of peer pressure in society. Many choose to laugh it off as a modern myth or an extreme version of reality, something they are likely to never face again. However dated, the idea of peer pressure is not extinct from our society, but rather evolved into something much more influential: peer influence.

Though along the lines of parental teachings such as “Well, if Jenny jumped off a bridge, would you too?” this new wave of peer pressure is something that our parents experienced differently. The way we interact today has amplified the power of peer influence while diminishing that of peer pressure.

The biggest influence on younger generations today is social media, which influences its users in the same way that creators use it to influence their audiences. Though the concept of peer influence is not new, the way in which it is undermined today is.

Every choice that we make is subliminally influenced by our peers or covert advertising, which the use of social media amplifies. Choosing to own popular items for the sake of everyone owning them or choosing not to for the same reason all fall under the sphere of influence from our peers, in person or online.

This is not as obvious as peer pressure is, which makes it a much more dangerous opposition.

Peer influence feels like doing something because you want to, but it is actually because you want to be more like those around you. These peers are not making you mimic their actions or asking you to do so, but you feel the need to in order to “fit in.”

Caring about what other people think in this way won’t only cause poor decisions but also diminished self-worth and confidence. When we receive a compliment, the high that we feel is neurological and a part of the brain system, according to News in Health. Becoming too reliant on this satisfaction can lead to feelings of low self-worth when we do not receive the validation of our peers that we strive for.

Youth who experience poor self-concept and self-regulation are more susceptible to the influence of their peers, according to Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology. Giving into this influence will reinforce bad self-image themes, which can have substantial long-term impacts.

This frame of mind is often subliminal, occurring as we hang out with friends or scroll through social media. Though not all of its effects are necessarily negative, it is important to keep a high self-value and be conscious of those with whom you surround yourself. They affect you more than you think.

Kylie Tutterrow is a sophomore political science major from Spartanburg, South Carolina. You can reach her at [email protected]

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Kylie Tutterrow, Opinion Editor
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