Peer pressure has always existed among young people but, in recent years, it’s taken on a whole new, and concerning, dimension.

Friends in the real world will still have a huge influence on your child’s behaviour, but today, the people they meet online – whether on social media or online gaming platforms – can also exert pressure on them to act in certain ways.

This can often be a good thing – maybe encouraging them to become involved in a viral internet craze to raise money or awareness for a charity, such as the Ice Bucket Challenge. But it can also be harmful and result in children and young people acting in ways they would never think of doing by themselves or in real life, face-to-face.

Your child may join in to laugh at, or attack, someone online because they want to be popular or increase their followers on social media.

They may face pressure to take part in potentially dangerous online dares and crazes, or to send sexually provocative photos or videos (often referred to as ‘nudes’ by young people, or sexting) because ‘everybody does it’.

Sometimes, the pressure doesn’t come from a specific friend or group of friends but from the places they visit or sites they use. Young people have always been influenced by the media and those they admire – and it’s easy to see how the internet can give rise to young people feeling that they have to look like celebrities (or at least pretty amazing) in every picture they take or appear to be living a life full of parties and achievements.

There are lots of things you can do as a parent to help your child cope with this pressure so we’ve produced a longer article, containing lots of useful tips, that you can read on the Parent Zone website. If you’re a teacher or head teacher, you can also download the Vodafone Be Strong Online module about peer pressure for your students to use.

Vicki Shotbolt

As CEO and Founder of Parent Zone, Vicki Shotbolt helps companies and organisations to create parent-friendly initiatives. She serves on the board of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) and is a member of Vodafone’s Digital Parenting editorial team.