Handling Virtual Peer Pressure

While technology has made life simpler for those of us who have access to it, it has also crippled us in a way, and virtual peer pressure is one of its harsh side effects. Adolescence and peer pressure have always gone hand in hand; however, parents are increasingly worried about virtual peer pressure.
In this day and age, social media and the natural human tendency to seek acceptance and recognition among peers play a key role in spurring virtual peer pressure. If you observe your child acting besides himself, the best thing to do is to get to know their friends. Invite them over or take them out for a meal, and observe for unhealthy behavioural patterns. For example: Does your child tend to agree with his peers, while letting go of his own belief system? In that case, try and spend quality time with your teenagers, making room to let them know that you accept and love them with all their quirky imperfections.

Also, make sure to discreetly keep an eye on their activity on popular social media platforms, for their time is precious and how they spend it determines their future. How they choose to present themselves to the world via the medium of social media is a reflection of their developing thinking and behavioural patterns. A subtle way to guide them in the direction of making good decisions is to lighten up, tease them, and make jokes to give them effective feedback. This will also enable you to protect them from the harsh perceptions of those who are quick to judge, and these people are rarely the same as their closest friends in real life.

However, the thought of how they are being perceived can be an obsession among teenagers. This obsession to impress the world by doing as little as putting together a look for an attractive selfie (made so with several filters) or by portraying oneself to be exactly like the people in the most liked or most “hearted” images can even lead to dangerous habits in real life. How, you say? Simply because typically a teenager’s thoughts sound like this — if it looks cool in the pictures, it is obviously cool in real life, if it is cool, then I ought to be doing it, all the cool people are doing it, and so shall I.

The interactions in the virtual life of your teenagers certainly have a greater influence on them than the interactions in their real life. What they really need is for you to be their friend and help them get through this phase. To do that, you will need loads of patience and a select choice of vocabulary to deliver the message sensitively. While making good use of your power as a parent, help them effectively by implying a curfew over the time they spend on their phones, specifically on social media. Talk to them about physical activities which inspire them, and encourage them to participate in those activities on a regular basis. Finally, make time out of your hectic work-home schedules to keep track of the little to significant changes in their behaviours, and remember to convey each of your concerns with compassion, and not fear.           - Kanchan