The Many Forms of Peer Pressure

The Many Forms of Peer Pressure

“Identity is an ever-evolving process shaped by social interactions and personal choices.” – Erik Erikson

High schools are changing. The environment in which we spend more than 1,080 hours a year is a crucial variable for creating the different facets of our personalities. Yet, with the introduction of several social networks and apps, the pervasive impact of peer pressure has left a mark on the lives of numerous high school students, shaping their experiences in both positive and negative ways. 

Gabi Marcus (Class of 2026) said, “People want to fit in, and they’ll often go any length to do it—even if it means changing themselves in the process.”

Social Media 

Perhaps the most well-known source of peer pressure and insecurities in teens is the many social media platforms that are present in today’s world. It seems to be connected to almost all forms of peer pressure and is something that can either unite others or rupture the fragile nature of society’s norms and communication. 

With the integration of technology into high schools, peer pressure is now seen both in the real world and the digital one. The presence of social media and its influence is evolving at a rapid pace. Now, it is almost an expectation for students to have certain apps, such as Snapchat or Instagram. 

For some students, when they admit to not having certain social media platforms, they are met with questions and judgment from peers. 

When asked, “Why don’t you have Instagram or Snapchat yet?” Abby Gissel (Class of 2026) said, “It can cause anxiety, depression, or peer pressure, but saying that I don’t have Snapchat or Instagram has made me feel left out sometimes…”  

Gissel goes on to say that all anyone would talk about in her Gibbons Freshman Seminar class was Snapchat and the newest TikTok trends.

“I can’t do or relate to any of that… but I know that in the long run it’s just a distraction.”

According to Gissel, most people don’t even ask for numbers anymore, but instead focus on asking for Snapchat usernames when meeting someone for the first time. 

“I met a ton of people who asked for my Snap in freshman year, but when I told them I didn’t have one, they just stopped talking to me, and that was heartbreaking.” 

These reactions to not having social media could make it harder for some students to make friends, especially in their freshman year of high school.

Though social media can cause dissent among friendships and create spreads of miscommunication if used improperly, it can also bring people together. Unfortunately, the positives of social media don’t seem to overshadow the negative effects caused by their ubiquitous influence.

Gissel said, “It doesn’t just have to be a bad thing, you can use it to connect with your friends, and that’s really cool, but I think that the downsides kind of outweigh the good sides, especially in the topic of peer pressure.”


Peer pressure within high schools can also affect those who play a sport. Athletes often find themselves driven only by the desire for success. This motivation could be seen during the last few minutes of a one-point difference basketball game, or when teams gather the willpower to not give up and boost each other’s spirits. When athletes willingly set higher expectations for themselves and dedicate more time to training and enhancing their commitment to the team, peer pressure can be seen as having a positive influence on the community.

Among the positives of peer pressure within sports, there are also a handful of negative and stressful factors that cause negative peer pressure within a team. Being in a high-pressure sports environment for the long term can result in burnout. Burnout is a common experience that not only affects physical exhaustion but also has the potential to affect an athlete’s mental health due to stress.

A member of the swim team, Camila Campos Fiorati (Class of 2026), was interviewed about the negative peer pressures that could come from such a competitive sport. 

“When you’re going up against faster swimmers, there’s a lot of pressure for that because you really want to be as fast as them, and you want to be able to compete with them on a fair level.” 

This mentality is easy to find in most athletics. Constant competition and comparisons can cause athletes to think less of themselves when compared to those who have won more events in their sport. 

Again, Campos Fiorati stated, “I think it’s going to take a lot more work for me to get where I want to be than someone who has more natural talent.”


“Conformity and a want or a need to fit in or match with people and to be seen as one of the group is a huge cause (of peer pressure),” Emily Martin (Class of 2024) said. “But also, it’s just that some people are insecure, because if you’re not sure who you are or what you stand for, it’s easier to follow a popular trend just because you don’t know what you want. There’s a privilege involved with wearing Lululemon and I think that definitely contributes to the stereotype.” 

However, it’s not just Lululemon that causes this analogous trend between the females in Gibbons, other brands such as Kendra Scott and Aerie are prominent in teen style. 

There also seems to be a stigma against wearing certain types of clothing such as girls wearing ankle-length skirts, low-rise jeans, or baggy shirts.  

Clothing trends can bring people together for both boys and girls, but it can also cause many to conform to popular styles to align themselves with a particular group or societal standard. Clothing isn’t just about covering our bodies; it’s a form of communication, a way to express our identity, and a tool for navigating social dynamics.


Many Gibbons educators have noticed the decreased stigma around discussing peer pressure. This change could reflect a positive trend throughout the school where students feel more comfortable pointing out issues about peer pressure to teachers.

Over the past decade, English teacher and former football coach, Mr. Sheehan, has seen Gibbons grow and change with the dynamics of peer pressure, both on the field and in the classroom. Although Gibbons used to be on the smaller side, with only about 800 students, peer pressure was still evident.

Mr. Sheehan stated, “Since students are all comparative by nature, when you’re seeing your friends on vacations or what they’re wearing or what they’re doing, we feel a lot of internal peer pressure to measure up to that.”

The Future

The evolving dynamics of peer pressure within Gibbons continue to reflect a broader societal shift influenced by new athletics, social media platforms, and changing fashion trends.

In the face of peer pressure and its growing evolution, we at Gibbons should try to harness that growth and use it to empower ourselves to shape a positive future of beneficial peer pressure for the future students who walk our halls.

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About the Contributor
Mia Wardaskza
Mia Wardaskza, Reporter
Hi! My name is Mia Wardaszka and I'm a sophomore writer for The Gibbons Globe. I love writing and joining this club will hopefully help me share many stories with the rest of the Gibbons community.