Online peer pressure

Jun 3, 2020 | Cyber Parenting - Sexting and Online Grooming

Children and young people have always been influenced by their friends. This can now include people they meet online, which presents particular challenges for parents.

It’s normal for children to want to copy their friends. But now offline peer pressure is Joined by influences from the online world: the friends they chat to on social media or while gaming, and the celebrities they follow on Instagram or YouTube. Of course, a child wanting to copy their peers isn’t necessarily a negative thing. Young people can be inspired by friends and online role models to be creative, take up a sport and eat more healthily, or encouraged to work harder at school. But sometimes online peer pressure can result in young people being pressured into acting in ways they would never think of doing by themselves or in the online world.

Partying

Figures show that young people in the UK are generally smoking and drinking less than their parents’ generation*. But a study of 1,500 15- and 16-year-olds in The Journal of Adolescent Health found that social media posts influence young people’s behaviour and can make it more likely a child will experiment with drinking and smoking. The study, by researchers from the University of Southern California, revealed that the more pictures a child sees on social media of their friends drinking or smoking, the more likely they are to do the same. The report concluded: “These results provide evidence that friends’ online behaviours should be considered a viable source of peer influence.

What you can do

Remind your child that both drinking and smoking are illegal if they are underage and that doing either to excess is dangerous. They may feel patronised but, as parents, sometimes it’s our job to state the obvious. (Setting a positive example can be worth a thousand words!) Also, point out that pictures of them partying could still be viewable years later, when their social media feeds may well be looked at by prospective employers and other people they want to impress. Today’s fun night out could be tomorrow’s rejected university application or career setback. This might be a good time to suggest they make sure their social media privacy settings are set to ‘friends only’.

Cyberbullying

Bullying among school children isn’t a new problem but the internet has created new ways for young people to gang up on others. Encouraging someone to make nasty comments on social media, or joining in to impress your friends, may seem OK at the time. After all, it’s easy to do when you’re not standing in front of the person you’re victimising and everyone else you know is doing it too. Unfortunately, the online bullying follows the person being bullied everywhere they go, even to what should be the safety of their own home.

What you can do

If you discover your child has joined in with online bullying, or has shared a cruel image, talk about why they did it. (explain that it is often difficult to realise you’re being pressured until afterwards but encourage them to learn from the experience. Recognising the signs will help them identify if it happens again – and next time they may choose to act differently. Scotland’s anti-bullying service, Respect Me (respectme.org.uk), has excellent advice for parents of children who have exhibited bullying behaviour. They advise: “You change the way people behave by telling them what they did, why it was wrong, and what you expect instead. “It’s natural to be angry and upset, but it’s important that you remain calm. When you’ve established the reasons behind the bullying, you have to address their behaviour and the impact that it has had. All behaviour carries consequences and your child has to realise that they are accountable for their actions.”

Source: Vodafone Digital Parenting

Is your child influenced by harmful sexual messages

Pornography, violent video games, derogatory comments on social media, and sexualised music videos and lyrics can all spread negative messages about sex, and about girls and boys. These messages can harm young people, making it harder for them to develop and enjoy...

Online Grooming Overview

What is online grooming? There’s a chance that your child may meet people online that aren’t who they say they are. Grooming is a word used to describe people befriending children in order to take advantage of them for sexual purposes. How common is online grooming? A...

Online peer pressure

Children and young people have always been influenced by their friends. This can now include people they meet online, which presents particular challenges for parents. It’s normal for children to want to copy their friends. But now offline peer pressure is Joined by...

Sexting the new rules

Parents would be forgiven for thinking there is an epidemic of sexting among young people. Lurid headlines paint a picture of a highly sexualised generation sharing nude or semi-naked images of themselves via their mobile phones. And, as incidents often come to light...

Sexting vs Selfies

Selfies seem to be everywhere nowadays. With so many of the younger generation seemingly happy to send pictures and often inappropriate content to each other should it really come as such a big surprise that occasionally something goes wrong” children haven’t changed....

Other articles on Sexting and Online Grooming you might enjoy:

Sexting vs Selfies

Sexting vs Selfies

Selfies seem to be everywhere nowadays. With so many of the younger generation seemingly happy to send pictures and often inappropriate content to each other should it really come as such a big surprise that occasionally something goes wrong” children haven’t changed....

read more