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COMMON FORMS OF PEER PRESSURE IN THE INDIAN SCENARIO


COMMON FORMS OF PEER PRESSURE IN THE INDIAN SCENARIO

What is peer pressure? I am not looking for a definition of peer pressure, but trying to understand its manifestations. Peer pressure is a very generic term and can encompass several different aspects. According to Wikipedia, peer pressure is the influence exerted by a peer group or an individual, encouraging other individuals to change their attitudes, values, or behaviors in order to conform to group norms.

I spoke to a few young people, just out of their teens, on the matter who opined that peer pressure is the toughest form of pressure that teens have to endure. The most common forms of peer pressure in the Indian scenario are:
• Smoking and drinking: Smoking and drinking are considered ‘cool’ and those who indulge in this try and compel their friends to do so as well. Teenagers succumb to this kind of pressure as they fear being shunned by the group and a desire to be a part of the ‘happening’ crowd drives them. At times, smoking/drinking could also be a means of escape from problems at school/college or at home
• Relationship with the opposite sex: Having a girlfriend/boyfriend appears to be the ‘new normal’, not having a ‘steady’ girl/boyfriend gives rise to vicious comments. College life is considered incomplete in the absence of such a relationship. In rare cases, teenagers seek affection/caring/understanding, that is denied to them at home, from their girl/boyfriends
• Bunking: Friends force one another to bunk classes and refraining is a sign of a ‘nerd’ which is a word most teens would hate to be associated with
• Music: Listening to or learning Indian classical music/dance is considered old fashioned. There is tremendous pressure to listen to western music, that too only heavy metal
• Language: Using grammatically correct language is ‘uncool’ and teens are expected to use only SMS language while chatting online or messaging with their peers
• Academic achievement: A high academic achiever is under pressure to appear ‘cool’ or risk being labeled a nerd. She would need to be up-to-date on all entertainment programs (TV serials) which are ‘in’ and participate in extracurricular activities to avoid the ‘nerd’ label. On the flip side, a teenager active in sports and other extra-curricular activities often feels inadequate if she fails to score at least a distinction in academics
• Fashion/clothes: Teens are under pressure to wear branded jeans/shirts/tops; designer salwars/sarees and sport only selected hairstyles. Some teens choose their friends based on the way they dress—girls who wear traditional salwars are termed ‘behenjis’ and shunned. Often, teenagers adopt the fashions of their favorite movie actor or musician
• Social networking sites: Not having a presence on a social networking site is extremely ‘uncool’.As a result, children as young as eight years old are on Facebook! Teenagers spend hours on these sites which are more about getting the maximum number of ‘likes’ for their profile pictures/statuses than about really connecting with like-minded people

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S A Sudha is a content writer/editor and helps create marketing collateral for clients from different verticals. Sharing her varied and, at times, volatile parenting experiences, and reading about the parenting adventures of other parents has helped her to look at issues from a different perspective, and gain valuable insights on how to connect with teens. While not arguing with her teen, she loves to read, listen to music and watch Hindi movies.


6 thoughts on “COMMON FORMS OF PEER PRESSURE IN THE INDIAN SCENARIO

  1. Sudha Kumar

    Great post Sudha, your ability to empathize stands out. Yes I am completely with you- I have seen the transition of my son, niece and daughter, and yes, we should not be judgmental and jump to conclusions; rather try and see issues from their view point as well. Keep them coming!

    Reply
    1. Sudha Arun

      Yes, I agree that its very important to remain unbiased while dealing with teenagers as this would allow them to open up to their parents when they are in trouble rather than bottling it up or seeking advice from others….

      Reply
  2. Ramya Srinivasan

    Nicely articulated, Sudha. While not a parent of a teenager, this list does bring back to mind the kind of peer pressure I went through as a “nerd!” With changing times and children becoming much more aware and knowledgeable today, it is a tough ask not to buckle under this kind of pressure.

    Having said that, I think the experience, stressing as it is, will prepare them to face the future academic and corporate world that they will get into in a few years’ time.

    Reply

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