Young people's friend groups significantly impact later life - study

  • 30/06/2022

The group of friends you have as a teenager could be the key to your success later in life, according to a new study.

While it's well-known teenagers can have a negative influence on one another, a new study from the Royal Society suggests the opposite is also true. 

The research found that friends have a significant impact on children around 10-years-old, but that declines as they age. 

Clinical psychologist Dr Dougal Sutherland told AM's Melissa Chan-Green the younger the group, the more they look for guidance. 

"Younger kids are still figuring out the world and so they look around a lot more. They look to their friends and people around them to try and figure out the rules of the world, but that drifts off or reduces down by the time they get to 18 or 20," Dr Sutherland said on Thursday. 

He said while peer influence decreases when you get older, it provides a foundation for you that is likely to carry on for the rest of your life. 

"Your teenage years, your adolescence are a bit of a foundation for the rest of your life. So if things go badly as a teenager they can actually have a long-term impact on you. 

"Equally on the flip side, if you get set up well to be a caring, kind, sharing person that follows rules that sets you up really well for the rest of your life." 

Dr Sutherland said there is also concern with social media influencing teenagers.

He said teenagers today face influence 24/7 online and there is no longer the protective factor of going home and closing the door on negative influences.

"Never before have we had such an age where there's so much influence on teenagers. The more positive, the better but it's there all the time and it's really hard to stop."

Watch the full interview above.