Peer Pressure: Your Choice Or Theirs?
This morning while driving into work, the radio was playing some of my favorite songs. Those songs that cause you to sing-along on a whim. The announcers came on and were chattering about various topics. As I tuned in more closely to hear what they were talking about, I caught this story about parents who are hiring pro-gamers for $20.00 per hour to teach their children how to play video games.
Hearing this tidbit, I thought, o.k., the parents may not be experts in video games or may not have played them either enough or at all, or may not be able to teach their children how it all is supposed to work. No big deal, right? The announcers followed up with the real reason for this new surge in gaming teachers. The parents are attempting to save their children from pressure from other children due to not playing video games. This sparked some thinking on my part and the following questions came to mind. What is wrong with not playing video games? Do all children have to play video games? Why are the parents succumbing to peer pressure? Who in the group of video gaming children dictates how other children spend their free time? Why are the parents relinquishing their rights as parents to guide their children to other creative activities? Why do the parents believe they must save their child from peer pressure?
These questions and many others surfaced for me. Peer pressure is something that exists throughout life as we encounter others who try to force their thoughts, ideas, interests, beliefs, and way of life on others. Shouldn’t we as parents fight against peer pressure? Isn’t our job as parents to teach our children how to navigate the world in ways that will help them enhance their lives? Giving in to peer pressure removes our freedom to choose for ourselves. Are the parents thinking this is the easy way out? Wrong, this is not the easy way out, it is the most difficult route to take and to send our children. Video games are an activity of leisure, not an activity that must be learned to avoid being left out. I ask, left out of what? Aren’t leisure activities a choice? Why is this choice taken away? Life is filled with the taking away and dealing with disappointments. Aren’t these children being set up for a huge disappointment that infiltrates every aspect of their future? They are being taught to accept peer pressure and to accept what others want and believe for them.
Where is the lesson in this video snafu to teach children to stand up for what they want, what they believe, what interests them? Stand up to these future bullies who parents have decided to succumb. It begins with video games, setting the stage for future loss of choice.
Peer pressure is serious and we must teach our children how to stand up to peer pressure and not accept it as our choice. Video games are not a creative activity, they have already been created by someone else. The players are following the creativity of others. Teach children to be creative on their own, this activity opens up the world to them. They do not have to be a guppy, one of many that follow one path, a path designed and approved by someone else.
Robert Frost, in his famous poem, The Road Not Taken wrote,
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference”.
These words describe creativity, an attribute that should not be taken lightly. Creative people change the world. Creative people do not bow to peer pressure, they take a stand and choose for themselves. Leave video games as a pastime, not an activity that must be tutored. Let it be a choice!