Teenagers are infamous for being. . . difficult, for lack of a better word. They have the tendency to become moody, defiant, and rebellious, which can put a lot of stress on their parents or guardians. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that this period of development is also a difficult time for the teenagers themselves. They’re in a period of limbo that is often characterized by conflicting expectations of how they should and should not behave.
On one hand, teens are expected to be mature and responsible, and act like the adults that they’ll soon become. On the other hand, they’re still minors which means they have little freedom and must continue to obey the rules that have been laid out for them by adults. This psychological tug-of-war often leads to internal frustration, which is almost tangible in universal teen mantras like, “You expect me to act like an adult, but you treat me like a child!” How many parents do you think have heard that line before? Or how about this one, “Ugh! You’re ruining my life!”
My guess is that most, if not all parents have experienced some variation of these angsty sentiments from their own teens. So who do teens turn to once they’ve decided their parents (and adults in general) are their worst enemy? Well, they turn to their friends and people their own age, and as we know, a teen’s peers have the strongest influence on their decision to act out and behave badly.
Peer Influence On Social Media
Teens have always been susceptible to peer pressure, but it used to be something that only took place during in person encounters. These days, however, social media has completely changed the way that teens are influenced by others. The two sites that have garnered the most attention with regard to their influence on teen behavior are Facebook and Myspace. These sites are extremely popular among adolescents and teens, and those who do have active accounts will often spend several hours a day online. They continuously update their own profiles with pictures and statuses, and browse other profiles belonging to their friends.
Anyone who spends time on a social media site is guaranteed to come across posts that show people smoking, drinking, using drugs, bragging about criminal records, etc. When teens see this type of content, no matter who is posting it, they experience a new level of peer pressure. They want to fit in and “look cool,” and to teens, being rebellious and breaking the rules (or laws) is seen as mysterious and fun. If the content is being posted by their closest friends, it’s even more likely that teens will want to engage in the same illegal activities.
What Can Parents Do?
The best thing any parent can do is stay involved in their teenagers’ lives, even if they act like you’re their worst enemy. Ask them questions and keep them educated about the dangers of drug and alcohol use and how these behaviors could have detrimental effects on their future. They might try to push you away and tell you that you wouldn’t understand, but by setting your teen on the right path today, you’re paving the way for a bright future tomorrow.
About the Author
Jennifer Mendez is a blogger and mother of three from Seattle, WA. She specializes in writing about peer pressure and the effects of social media on teenagers.