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Role of peer groups in the life of teenagers

University of Lisbon, Portugal E-mail: This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

How Can Peer Group Influence the Behavior of Adolescents: Explanatory Model

Abstract The current work aims to study both the peer group and family influence on adolescent behaviour. In order to achieve the aforementioned objective, an explanatory model based on the Structural Equations Modelling SEM was proposed.

The total sample of the HBSC study carried out in 2006 was 4,877; however with the use of the SEM, 1,238 participants were lost out of the total sample. The relationship with parents did not demonstrate the expected mediation effect, with the exception of the following elements: The negative influence of the peer group is more connected to the involvement in risk behaviours, whilst the positive influence is more connected with protective behaviours.

Peers and family have a key role in promoting health during adolescence, as well as, the perception that youngsters have of their quality of life and subjective well-being. An example of this is that the main motives for alcohol consumption given by adolescents are related to social events, which usually take place in the company of friends, namely: On the other hand, having friends allows to share experiences and feelings and to learn how to solve conflicts.

Not having friends, on the other hand, leads to social isolation and limited social contacts, as there are fewer opportunities to develop new relations and social interactional skills.

Stronger friendships may provide adolescents with an appropriate environment to development in a healthy way and to achieve good academic results. Another factor that may be found in the influence of the peer group is the type of friendship, which adolescents maintain with their peer group: Another factor, which has been identified as a possible factor of decreasing peer influence is assertive refusal.

Appreciating Adolescence: The Role of Peers

These are only some variables identified as possible factors decreasing peer influence. The relation with parents may be a mitigating factor of the negative influence by peers. Communicating family rules and parental style have been inversely associated to substance, alcohol and tobacco consumption during adolescence.

Sen 2010 observed that family meals could lead to creating a closer relation between parents and adolescents, by strengthening a positive relationship and avoiding certain risk behaviours, such as substance use amongst girls and alcohol consumption, physical violence and robberies, amongst boys.

These differences between genders may be due to a greater importance that girls attribute to family activities, but they do not reveal that boys are indifferent to them, only that the relation between genders may differ. Huebner and Howell 2003 verified that parental monitoring and communication with parents protected adolescents of both genders from being involved in risk behaviours. It has been associated to protection of various risk behaviours throughout adolescence, such as substance use or sexual behaviours.

Tobler and Komro 2010 confirmed with a sample made up of 2,621 adolescents in the 6th and 8th grades that the role of parents in the prevention of substance use during adolescence is essential; and that communication and parental monitoring were the factors, which most contributed to those results. Li, Stanton and Feigelman 2000 confirmed in a longitudinal study with afro-American children and adolescents, that parental monitoring was a very important factor in reducing risk behaviour.

  • After the introduction of these parameters, the results show better levels of adequacy of the model;
  • Doing so with an appreciation of what adolescents need to thrive in both the short-term and long-term goes a long way toward changing some of the prevalent negative stereotypes about teenagers and effectively supporting this important developmental stage;
  • Amongst the factor low involvement in violence behaviours, the factor on friends with protective behaviours and the factor on less involvement in risk behaviours;
  • The traditional answer to these questions argues that adolescent peer groups are a gateway to experimentation with different experiences and identities as part of the individuation process i;
  • In total eight indicators were eliminated;
  • Amongst the factor low involvement in violence behaviours, the factor on friends with protective behaviours and the factor on less involvement in risk behaviours.

Parental monitoring emerged as inversely correlated with risk behaviours. The correlation persisted throughout age, suggesting that its protective effect is persistent in the long-term.

Understanding of Adolescent Social and Peer Groups

Rai and collaborators 2003 also found a positive influence associated with parental monitoring, namely protection against substance use and sexual behaviours, but not condom use. On the other hand, the peer group was found to influence all risk behaviours assessed by the authors.

The youngsters that had the perception of the involvement of peers in certain behaviours were more involved in similar behaviours; the same was found for those that presented a problematic relationship with their parents. On the other hand, parents have a protective role in the same behaviours, generally associated with good communication and parental monitoring.

Taking into account the aforementioned findings, the aim of this study will be to analyse how peer influence is associated with: Throughout the years, the study has grown in importance and currently there are 44 participating countries from Europe and North America, in collaboration with the World Health Organisation Currie et al.

Portugal has participated in the survey since 1996, when an initial pilot study adapted to the Portuguese population was carried out, in accordance with the international protocol www.

The study aims to understand further adolescent behaviour in relation to health and to understand health and well-being in the social context, by gathering data that enable national and international comparisons. The total sample is 4,877 students from 257 school classes in 125 Portuguese schools selected randomly.

In the present study, due to the statistical analisis used, 1,238 students were left out, which accounts for a final total sample of 3,639 adolescents. It is representative of the abovementioned school years and stratified by Administrative Education Regions. Students were distributed in the following manner: In each school, classes were randomly selected with the aim to find the needed number in each class, which was proportional to the number provided by the Ministry of Education.

Teachers administered the questionnaire in the classroom. Schools and participating classes were selected randomly, out of a list provided by the Ministry for Education.

The students that did not wish to complete the questionnaire could leave the classroom. Amongst other, this questionnaire provides demographic data, role of peer groups in the life of teenagers indicators life quality related with health, happiness and life satisfaction and indicators on peer relations Matos et al.

  1. The results obtained in relation to the adequacy of the explanation model proposed showed that it presented lower levels of adequacy see Table 1 , step 1.
  2. In the present study, due to the statistical analisis used, 1,238 students were left out, which accounts for a final total sample of 3,639 adolescents. Stronger friendships may provide adolescents with an appropriate environment to development in a healthy way and to achieve good academic results.
  3. The relationship with parents did not demonstrate the expected mediation effect, with the exception of the following elements.
  4. Building relationships with our peers — and having the skills necessary to understand and navigate the ever-emerging culture of our generation — is critical to our success. On the other hand, parents have a protective role in the same behaviours, generally associated with good communication and parental monitoring.
  5. It is not until mid to late adolescence that friendship takes the role of intimate relationships.

Before completely testing the model, it was necessary to test the model partially, through a confirmatory factorial analysis CFA. Three mediation models were tested: In total eight indicators were eliminated.

Covariances between error measures were also introduced, in a total of eight covariances, two in the independent mediation model and six in the mediating mediation model. The results obtained in relation to the adequacy of the explanation model proposed showed that it presented lower levels of adequacy see Table 1step 1. However, the analysis of the results obtained in the Langrange Multiplier test LM testa test that assesses the need to add new parameters to the model Bentler, 1995showed that the introduction of some connections between factors, would decrease significantly the value of the qui-square, amongst other, the parental monitoring factor, the communication with parents factor and the factor on less involvement in violence behaviours.

Amongst the factor on less involvement in risk behaviours and the factor friends with risk behaviours. Amongst the factor low involvement in violence behaviours, the factor on friends with protective behaviours and the factor on less involvement in risk behaviours. Amongst the factor on health and the factor on friendship quality, the communication with friends factor, less involvement in risk behaviours and the factor on well-being, and amongst the factor on feeling about school and less involvement in risk behaviour.

  1. What is so attractive about spending massive amounts of time with friends during this stage of life? Parental monitoring emerged as inversely correlated with risk behaviours.
  2. Rai and collaborators 2003 also found a positive influence associated with parental monitoring, namely protection against substance use and sexual behaviours, but not condom use. The relationship with parents did not demonstrate the expected mediation effect, with the exception of the following elements.
  3. The correlation persisted throughout age, suggesting that its protective effect is persistent in the long-term.

A decision was made to add them and to re-evaluate the model see Table 1step 2. After the introduction of these parameters, the results show better levels of adequacy of the model. Finally, the results obtained in the Wald test, which show the non significant m odel parameters Bentler, 1995were analysed.

These showed the existence of some non significant relations, which were eliminated, namely between communication with parents and friends with protective behaviours; between parental monitoring, friends with risk behaviours and communication with friends; between lower involvement in risk behaviours and communication with parents; between lower involvement in risk behaviours and parental monitoring; and between health and parental monitoring.

The results obtained after the elimination of these parameters are shown in Table 1step 3.