Peer Pressure or Peer INFLUENCE?

Posted on 15 August 2017

We parents are very familiar with the term 'peer pressure' even our parents knew of it way back when we were still pimply. However do we fully understand the influence of peer PRESENCE?

Advancements in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) now enable scientists to discover much more about the brain than ever before. They can now study sensitivities around specific areas including reward circuitry.

In this short video the renowned psychology professor and adolescent development expert, Dr Laurence Steinberg, discusses the 'Stoplight' game. What I find incredibly interesting is it's not simply pressure applied by an adolescent's contemporary that influences their actions – it's their mere presence.

This type of research has been instrumental in giving birth to the worldwide graduated licensing schemes we see today.

Teenagers take risks – especially males; and that problem exists worldwide. The Australian Transport and Safety Bureau released a report in 2002 that highlighted, just like Australia, young people from countries in the European Union, including the United Kingdom, in the 18-24 age group, have a rate (per 100,000 population) of dying in a road crash that is, on average, twice as high as that for the remainder of the population.

On the day adolescents pass their driving test they:-

  • Lack experience
  • Possess relatively limited driving ability and judgement
  • Sometimes underestimate risk
  • Sometimes knowingly take risks including the use of alcohol and drugs

On the day they are awarded their provisional licence, their OPPORTUNITY for risk skyrockets.

Does your teen possess an appetite for risk-taking in other areas of life? If not, what about their peers? There is international data that shows for every similar aged passenger you add to a vehicle with a teen driver, the chance of a crash incrementally increases. Statistics show that adult drivers are at no further risk of crashing when driving with additional passengers.

As parents, we generally don't want to hover over our adolescent's every move. We understand that risk-taking is a normal part of their wiring and overall development; however, we can have some control over the odds by managing their risk opportunity during this precarious period. Graduated licensing schemes have proven to be by far the most effective way to reduce serious young driver crashes. Parents have an opportunity to broaden prescribed provisional licensing regulations.

I refer to the first six months of provisional licensure as the SORRY, NO RESULTS FOUND phase. We're all familiar with that pesky message that occasionally pops up when we type something into a search engine. An Intermediate level driver faces this message constantly because they simply don't possess a big enough bank of driving data to accommodate every situation. During this period, consider limiting the amount of similar aged peer passengers they may carry.

P.S. If there are any topics you would like me to cover feel free to let me know via the Comments or Contact Page.

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