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The positive side While it can be hard for teens to resist peer influence sometimes, especially in the heat of the moment, it can also have a positive effect.
In this way, peer influence can lead teens to engage in new activities that can help build strong pathways in the brain.
As described in the article "Teens and Decision Making: What Brain Science Reveals," neural connections that are weak or seldom used are removed during adolescence through a process called synaptic pruning, allowing the brain to redirect precious resources toward more active connections.
A self-report questionnaire was distributed to a sample of 348 bilingual French-Canadian adolescents (age: = 15.32; SD = 0.9; 185 girls and 163 boys).
Results indicated that rap music as a whole was linked to deviant behaviors, however the nature of the relation differed according to genres.
Methodologies from a variety of disciplines— communications, economics, neuroscience, pediatrics, and psychology, to name a few— have been applied to these questions, and a strong body of research and valuable findings has emerged.
Nevertheless, the field is relatively young and many methodological and theoretical questions remain, even as new digital technologies continue to pose unique challenges to researchers.
A teen might join a volunteer project because all of his or her friends are doing it, or get good grades because the social group he or she belongs to thinks getting good grades is important.
In fact, friends often encourage each other to study, try out for sports, or follow new artistic interests.
This means that teens have the potential, through their choices and the behaviors they engage in, to shape their own brain development.
Therefore, skill-building activities—such as those physical, learning, and creative endeavors that teens are often encouraged to try through positive peer influence—not only provide stimulating challenges, but can simultaneously build strong pathways in the brain.