Once considered a hallmark of high school, peer pressure is showing up earlier and earlier. Case in point: recent research from the University of Maryland found that children can recognize group dynamics and feel pressured by peers as early as age nine. Widespread smartphone and social media use by children at earlier ages (the average age for a first smartphone is 11) means that social pressure moves at a faster pace and can be harder for parents to detect.
More and more, young women and their parents are pushing back against this pressure from schools. School dress codes target girls unfairly, they claim, and force young women to miss instructional time so they don't 'distract' their male counterparts (or, more disturbingly, the male staff.) At the same time, many parents are uncomfortable with sending their teens to school in stiletto heels and tiny skirts.
How do you balance your desire to be a progressive and egalitarian parent with your desire to make sure that your teen is being seen for who she is, not what she wears?
Only a decade ago, it was the rare parent who considered giving a child a cell phone. Fast forward to 2015, and it’s the rare tween or teen who doesn’t have a mobile communication device at their fingertips. Recent surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center and the National Consumer League found that 78 per cent of kids ages 12 to 17 own a cell phone. A staggering 37 per cent in this age group own smartphones with Web access, texting, video and data storage capabilities. And 60 per cent of children age eight to 12 now own cell phones, with most kids getting their first phone at age 10 or 11.
With the new school year in full swing, curious minds have settled into their classroom, routines have been established and the social dynamic has started to take on a personality of its own. New friendships begin to flourish, while old friendships begin to wilt. Sometimes Besties get split up into different classes and feelings of jealousy, isolation or exclusion start to emerge. Girls sometimes mourn past friendships and yearn for ‘the way things used to be.’
Calgary’s Child Magazine © 2017 Calgary’s Child