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OPINION: Peer pressure is only getting more dangerous in the presence of social media. 

By Sunnove Carlson

Due to the main fact that you no longer have to be in the same room with someone to be peer pressured, peer pressure has become more common as well as more unsafe for each generation. 

“The direct form has quite a bit of overlap with cyberbullying. Incessant text messages, tagging people in posts, and the classic method of constantly calling and demanding attention are some forms. Social media in particular can make life difficult, as it’s hard to sort your friends from your “friends,”” said ‘Screentime’’s article “How Technology Is Changing the Concept of Peer Pressure.”

A large issue with instant messaging is that your friends and family now expect and demand your attention. Over the years, it has become more difficult to not do what you are asked, as it has become so normalized in the age of instant messaging. You may find yourself feeling obligated to talk to anyone who messages you. 

Now that people can see anyone’s posts and see what they are doing, there has been a rise in “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out). According to OptinMonster, nearly 60 percent of people on social media experience FOMO.

Younger children with internet access have thought out their actions less and less in the need to fulfill a “dare” or a “challenge.” Kids are very easily influenced and will do what they see or are told to do on the internet without a second thought. Being easily influenced and peer pressure work hand in hand by making you want to fit in with the people around you.

‘Issuu” says, “It is no longer about kids pressuring one another to skip school and hang out at the mall. People want to go viral, whether an internet challenge or catching something on video. There is constant pressure to be the next internet sensation, gain more followers, become a social media influencer and seek that social reward.”

Seeing other people post something such as an online challenge or even something as bad as drug usage can cause them to react in a way that reflects peer pressure. There doesn’t always have to be someone there telling you exactly what to do to be pressured by your peers. In a more modern example, after seeing everyone with a Stanley water bottle, the next time you need to purchase a new water bottle you may feel inclined to buy a Stanley like everyone else. This example portrays peer pressure in a way that no one even has to speak to you in order for you to feel pressured to buy/do something.

“Unspoken: This form of peer pressure requires no active coercion whatsoever. It’s about the silent pressures, such as interpretation (i.e. how we interpret a situation) and observation. For example, simply ‘seeing’ all your peers exhibit the same behavior can be a powerful motivator.” From a ‘Medium’ article called ‘What is Peer Pressure and How Has it Changed?’

Peer pressure has been around as long as humans have. Fitting into a group would be something necessary in order to survive in prehistoric times. Although we don’t need to fit into a group for survival reasons most of the time anymore, we still experience peer pressure as a human survival instinct. Only now, giving into peer pressure has become dangerous as opposed to a way of survival.

Some organizations have conducted experiments to see first hand how real and threatening peer pressure can be. In 1951 a famous experiment by Solomon Asch was organized. In this experiment, there were two actors and one regular person answering questions. In this scenario, the actors would answer first in order to see how their answers would impact the real person. They had the actors answer the questions wrong, and 75 percent of the participants chose to side with the majority at very least once during 12 trials. It was also noted in 1986, in a Harvard Business Review article, there were a lot of scrum procedures that cleverly use the peer pressure effect.

Overall, throughout the decades, peer pressure has become more and more perilous, but in the new age of technology, the danger of peer pressure is at an all-time high.

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