Positive Peer Pressure — Four Ways Teens Can Hold Each Other Accountable

A teenager holding up their hand to say "no" to being offered an alcoholic beverage.


When it comes to underage drinking, “peer pressure” often has a negative connotation. In fact, 75 percent of teenagers admit to participating in activities like partying and underage drinking because they see their peers on social media doing similar things. For many teens, “fitting in” is more important than making the right decision.

But what if your teenager is determined to make the right decision, and wants to bring their friends along for the ride? Contrary to popular belief, there is more than one type of peer pressure. By utilizing these unique positive peer pressure techniques, teens can hold their friends accountable, and keep them on the right track.

Use Social Media for Good

Teens are strongly influenced when it comes to their peers on social media. Just as easy as social media can have negative effects, it can also be used for good. If young people can use their social media accounts in a positive way, it may inspire other young people to do the same. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok, social media is a space for teens to interact with each other and a way to make their voices heard.

Charles Kolin is a Connecticut high schooler who has become a national advocate against bullying, and he’s using social media to do it. After experiencing intense bullying throughout middle-school because of his neurodiverse differences, he became a champion of inclusion and tolerance through the creation of the #UnityChallenge.

The Unity Challenge is all about promoting tolerance, kindness, and acceptance. Students and parents can both participate in the challenge. All they have to do is snap a picture of themselves with a unity word using the hashtag #UnityChallenge and share it on their social media accounts.

Become an Influencer in the Classroom

If your teen isn’t interested in becoming an influencer on social media, then they can lead by example in the classroom. As of 2016, nearly 70 percent of all high school seniors plan to attend some form of college. This percentage has been on a steady incline for the last two decades.

As top universities become harder and harder to get into, being a “nerd” is no longer considered uncool. After all, those who apply themselves get into better schools and get offered scholarships. The saying goes that “You become who you hang out with.”

Encourage your teen to hang out with loving, kind, compassionate, smart, passionate, and giving people. By showing that it’s “cool” to work a little harder, others might be inspired to perform better as well.

Work and Cash are ‘Cool’

The formative teenage years are often a time when many parents begin to wean their children from their wallets and have their kids start earning their own money with a job. The prospect of having money is very attractive to teenagers.

It lets them feel like they’ve earned what they choose to spend their money on. If your teen shows that working is “cool” to their friends, more of them will want to get jobs of their own. No teen wants to be the one broke friend in their group.

Things teens should remember when looking for a first job are location, schedule, and the experience needed. Your teen should look for a job they will take seriously but should avoid positions in high-stress environments. School should be the priority right now.

Great first-time jobs for teens include a position as a barista, lifeguard, host or hostess, cashier, babysitter, camp counselor, valet parking attendant, and much more. There are all sorts of options out there for teens willing to look. You never know. Your teen may find a job that helps them decide their future career path.

There’s No ‘I’ in Team

Joining a team is one of the best examples of positive peer pressure. By participating in a group extracurricular activity — academic, artistic, or athletic — your teen will be around like-minded people with the common goal of team success.

A team is only as strong as its weakest player, and other team members will do their best to ensure that one “bad apple” will not keep the team from achieving its goal.

Whether it’s joining the drama club, mathletes, marching band, or an athletic team, most high schools have many choices for you to consider. Work with your teenager to find an interest and pursue it!

What’s Next?

Positive peer pressure can significantly curb underage drinking. Beyond that, it can also have other positive impacts like instilling a sense of belonging and increasing self-confidence.

Help your teens be influencers through positive peer pressure by having a conversation about their values and always encourage them to seek out friends with similar beliefs. Provide examples of how to demonstrate their values to emphasize their importance.

Make sure your teen rises above the pressure and influences their peers in a positive way. Learn how you can start the conversation and encourage your teen to think for themselves and make smart decisions. Click here to take the pledge to Talk It Out and stop underage drinking!