Social media is magnifying the impact of peer pressure

One in eight children aged 10 to 12 have seen pictures on social media of their friends drunk. The Independent, August 14 2013.

A valuable article for parents, educators and any who work with children. It is already known that kids often view films and TV shows in which fictional characters, often played by actors and actresses whom they admire, get drunk or take drugs in ways that glamorize the drug and alcohol use. The characters act goofy, blase, uninhibited, in ways that appeal to the child and so serve as encouragement in this direction. There are multiple studies that support this trend in kids.

But this article takes matters one step further. With the proliferation of social media in forms like Facebook, kids are now viewing shots of their friends and older peers in drunken states cavorting at parties, etc. Such viewings normalize the behaviors and so make drug and alcohol consumption not just more attractive but also more mainstream and normal-seeming.

The idea here is that peer pressure has been a major factor in youth adopting certain behaviors, including risky ones. Now the Internet via social media is stepping in and magnifying the impact of peer pressure. It is serving as a super-peer. It is multiplying the effect of negative peer groups, and parents need to beware.