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The Importance of Peer Relationships and Social Interaction in Adolescents

Luke Holm earned bachelor degrees in English and Philosophy from NIU. He is a middle school teacher and a creative writer.

Peer Relations

In John Santrock's Adolescence, he defines “peers” as “individuals who are about the same age or maturity level” (Santrock 313). As adolescents interact with their peers, they learn more about themselves and the world around them. These interactions help the child explore new views on life that aren't necessarily their own; it is essential for the growing and maturing process. Observing these unique perspectives at home can be difficult, Santrock states, because older or younger siblings can possibly cloud the comparison of inner and outer-worldly events.


Choosing Social Groups

Since adolescents often learn much of their life lessons through interaction with their peers, it is important that the child be able to distinguish good from bad influences. As adolescents interact with their peers in various contexts, poor behavior can negatively influence the way they see the world. Such bad influences should be avoided because if they are not, it is likely that the child may stray down the wrong path. As adolescents grow older, these negative influences should be considered as strong peer pressure. It is important for these children to know that it is not necessary to succumb to peer pressure, whether good or bad.

It is also important for adolescents and parents to realize that the child’s individual differences will influence his peer interaction. If a child is outgoing and sociable, they will most likely engage with other similar peers, quickly excelling in their levels of maturity and life experience. However, if a child is shy, they often may be neglected by their peers. This child will have difficulty gaining world knowledge that other youngsters take for granted. While this neglected child is not at fault for their non-interaction, they should continue to attempt to interact with others. Students who do not strive for this interaction may be prone to anxiety or depression.


Importance of Social Groups

As adolescents mature, it is important for them to create relationships with others aside from their immediate peers. Strong bonds with family will help the child’s overall developmental growth and understanding of the world. It is also important for children to connect with their teachers, who are their mentors during the hours of their education. It is important for adolescents to make these connections so that they can gain opportunities that would not have been possible if they were sitting alone in a room, playing video games.

Socialization Defined

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