Peer Supporters @Work

Adolescence, the period of life between ages 10 – 24 years, is often associated with increased risk taking, an increased need for social connection and peer acceptance, and a heightened sensitivity to peer influence.

Role of peers

The role of peers is somewhat ambiguous, including both positive and negative associations with health and wellbeing outcomes. The presence of peers increases the likelihood that adolescents will take certain risks. Yet adolescents are also less likely to engage in a risky behaviour if a friend discourages them from doing so.

Adolescents are particularly susceptible to peer influence for several reasons. 

  • Peer socialisation: Adolescents look to their peers to understand social norms. They align their behaviour over time with the norms of their group or the group they wish to belong as they are attracted by the groups, norms, values and activities.
  • Status: Aligning with peers may confer social status.
  • Social exclusion: Adolescents are hypersensitive to being excluded from a group, being ostracised or left behind.

BY YOLISWA NTSEPE (MA, PhD)
ADOLESCENT PROGRAMMES MANAGER

UPDATED NOV 22, 2023

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REFERENCES & ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Andrews, J. L., Foulkes, L., & Blakemore, S. J. (2020). Peer Influence in Adolescence: Public-Health Implications for COVID-19. Trends in cognitive sciences, 24(8), 585–587. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2020.05.001

Crosnoe, Robert PhD; McNeely, Clea PhD Peer Relations, Adolescent Behavior, and Public Health Research and Practice, Family & Community Health: January 2008 – Volume 31 – Issue – p S71-S80 doi: 10.1097/01.FCH.0000304020.05632.e8