High school is a time for new experiences and self-discovery aided by those who surround you. New friends are made, old friends make new friends, and everyone lives their life in their own circle or clique; the people who surround you are often one’s biggest influence. A number of high school students are introduced to drugs and alcohol by their peers for the first time ever. Saying no to one’s friends is perhaps the hardest challenge in high school, especially when you have a lot of them, according to a new study.
A national survey of teenagers found that students are more likely to start drinking alcohol when they have large networks of friends. Teens that did drink were compared to those who did not; researchers found that those who did drink also had more popular friends, and more friends who drank. The more popular one’s friends are the easier it is for them to convince you that drinking and drugging is alright – even cool.
The study evaluated data from a national survey of teenagers; the students were asked to name up to five male and five female friends from their school, Science Daily reports. The researchers then calculated the number of friendship nominations each student had received, the number of connections that their friends had, and several other measures of friendship connections. The research suggests that those teens that interact with smaller groups are less susceptible to peer pressure and are less likely to drink.
Teenagers who go to smaller schools may be better off, according to the researchers, because they provide a smaller number of peers a teenager can interact with on their own or through friends. The smaller one’s circle is the more stable it is; it’s a lot harder to get lost in the crowd when you are in close knit community; larger schools have hundreds of different circles, some that interact and others that stick to themselves – layers upon layers of peer pressure from every different angle.
The results are published in Academic Pediatrics.