Should I do risky things to impress my mates?

#YOLO: the little motto that tells you seize the moment and grab life by the balls because ‘you only live once’. However, when it comes to some of the stupid stuff we do to impress our mates, that ‘one life’ might just end up being messy, painful and short.

There are dozens of ways that peer pressure can make us do things we might come to regret, from getting reckless with drink, drugs and sex to driving too fast, cutting class, or attempting crazy stunts. Half of this stuff we’d never think about doing if we were on our own so why is dangerous behaviour so seductive when we’re in a group?

In our featured short The Complete History of...YOLO, dubious academic Professor Martins talks to social media expert Dr Kwai Chi about peer pressure and social dares. Intrigued? Check out the whole series on All 4. We dare you.

Poll

Would you do something risky to impress your mates?

or

Relieving the pressure

Here are a few of the reasons why we take risks when we’re with our friends as well as some handy hints for handling peer pressure...

Know your own brain

If you find yourself turning the dumb-o-meter up to ten to impress your mates, it might not be your fault. Science shows that teenagers are biologically more susceptible to peer pressure, their brains actively triggering their reward systems and encouraging them to ignore risks as they show off to their friends. That doesn’t give you free license to #YOLO yourself into oblivion though. It just means that you have to try even harder to fight your brain and make smart decisions.

“Everyone else is doing it…”

Sometime it can feel like everyone else is at it and you’re missing out. From your mates bragging about getting laid, getting drunk or getting high to TV shows that portray teenagers as non-stop party animals, it’s easy to feel the pressure. The truth is there’s usually a massive difference between what people claim to be doing and what they’re actually getting up to.

Pick your friends

If you’re surrounded by people who are pressuring you to do stuff you’re not happy with, think seriously about finding a new group of mates. Good friends should respect you and accept you for who you are. You shouldn’t need to pass an initiation to be liked.

Be assertive

It’s OK to say no. Nobody can force you to do anything you don’t want to and sometimes it takes more balls to walk away than to go through with something dangerous.

Social dares

Crazy challenges are springing up all over web ranging from the seemingly harmless (‘the ice bucket challenge’) to the potentially dangerous (‘planking’, ‘tombstoning’, ‘neknominate’). As innocent as they seem, a lot of these have been responsible for serious injuries and even death. Remember, just because you’ve been nominated doesn’t mean you have to take part.

Do your homework

If you’re considering trying something risky, educate yourself about what can go wrong first. Being informed is the best way to stay safe.

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