During adolescence, we have a greater capacity for being organized and purposeful, and for limiting impulsive behavior. (Prefrontal Cortex maturation). Adolescents also feell the following emotions:

  • Impulsivity: anger, retaliation on social media and elsewhere
  • Trying out new identities: a natural part of adolescent development
  • Peer pressure: a conformity effect appears to be especially strong on social media for adolescents

Consistent with self-reports of lower resistance to peer influence among adolescents than adults (Steinberg & Monahan, 2007), observational data point to the role of peer influences as a primary contextual factor contributing to adolescents’ heightened tendency to make risky decisions. (Albert, Chein, Steinberg, 2013).

A correlation exists between the rate of risk behaviors that adolescents report for themselves and the rates they report for their friends (Arnett, 2007). Evidence also suggests that friends can influence each other not only toward participation in risk behavior but also against it (Maxwell, 2002).  Friendship in adolescence can provide important sources of  support.

Friendship offers four types of Support can be offered by

  1. Information support: Advice and guidance in solving problems
  2. Instrumental support: Helping with tasks, such as homework
  3. Companionship support: Rely on each other in social activities
  4. Esteem Support: Congratulating friends when successful, consoling when failed, and “being on their side”.

Relational aggression is the term for behavior that includes: sarcasm, ridicule, gossiping, spreading rumors, snubbing, and excluding others. It is not physical aggression, but it harms others by damaging relationships.   Being the target of relational aggression is associated with feelings of depression and loneliness. 

If someone online is being harmful:

  1. Don’t respond, don’t retaliate – a reaction is exactly what they want
  2. Don’t try to deal with the problem yourself – report the person and their negative messages to someone who can help (parent, counselor)
  3. Keep track of information about the problem and take a screenshot of anything you think would help report it
  4. Block the person on your device and don’t visit the same sites as them.

In Conclusion, friends become increasingly important during adolescence. Increasingly, teens are communicating with friends online. Although peer pressure is often used as a negative term to describe how adolescents encourage risk taking behaviors, it can also be a motivation for positive actions. Relational aggression can be challenging to address and students may need to reach out for help.

The presentation below shares the impact of loneliness on our brains.



Sarah McKay, MSc. “Why Friendship Is Great For Your Brain: A Neuroscientist Explains.” Mindbodygreen, Mindbodygreen, 27 Feb. 2020,


Blanco-Suarez, Elena. “The Neuroscience of Loneliness.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 19 Dec. 2017, 


Piore, Adam. “Why Do You Feel Lonely? Neuroscience Is Starting to Find Answers.” MIT Technology Review, MIT Technology Review, 4 Sept. 2020,


Offord, Catherine. “How Social Isolation Affects the Brain.” The Scientist Magazine®, 


Nield, David. “MRI Scans Show Our Brains Can Perceive Friends Differently When We Feel Lonely.” ScienceAlert,


“How Does Loneliness Affect Us?” Neurocore Counseling, 5 Feb. 2020,