Parents have long been aware of the threat of peer pressure and the ill effects it can have on youngsters, and the typical response has been to keep a closer eye on the child’s peer group. As peer pressure becomes a digital problem, however, this traditional safeguard can become quite a bit more challenging.
What Is Digital Peer Pressure?
Haven’t heard of digital peer pressure? Join the club! Researchers are just beginning to recognize the effects of the phenomenon. A recent study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health examined the impact of social media posts on the behaviors of 1500 teenagers in Los Angeles and found that teens who viewed pictures of their friends partying were more likely to mimic the behavior by indulging in alcohol and smoking cigarettes themselves. The report even went so far as to say that virtual peers are even more influential than a teen’s real-life friends.
An article published by The Independent speculated that this social media effect was related to teen’s fear of missing out on the fun as well as social media’s unique ability to make it seem like everyone else’s life is so much more exciting than one’s own.
What’s a Parent to Do?
It appears that digital peer pressure is a real problem, so how should parents deal with it? Obviously, it’s more critical than ever that parents know who their kids are spending their time with—both online and off. Luckily, with Qustodio’s parental monitoring software, you can see who your kids are friending online and peer into their newsfeeds to get an idea of what negative influences may be lurking there.
It’s also a good idea to talk with your teens and explain to them that a person’s social media profile may not be an accurate representation of who they really are. Just because someone chooses to post only about their accomplishments and adventures doesn’t mean that their life is a picture of perfection. Research has shown that teens have a tendency to get depressed or anxious when they fall into the habit of comparing their own lives to the lives others attempt to create online.
Have you noticed the effects of digital peer pressure on your child? Share your experiences below!