Influences on teen individuality

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Advertisements, parents, friends, teachers, TV shows, movies, political analysts, broadcast journalists, peer-pressure, beliefs, religion, morals and values. What do all the above have in common? They are just a few of the influences that teens deal with on a daily basis.

Such influences affect our individuality, negatively and positively. At a stage in life where most of our beliefs are still up in the air, these influence are extremely important.

Laura Stetman, a senior at Steamboat Springs High School, says her biggest influence is her mother because she "influences me to be a better person."

Parents are perhaps the largest influence in most teens' lives. Not only do adolescents acquire physical characteristics from their parents, but they also adopt several non-genetic characteristics. It is common for children to have the same political views as their parents. Children often adopt similar morals, viewpoints and values as their parents. Parents, more than anyone or anything else, engrain a sense of morality in their children, teaching them what is right and what is wrong. More often than not, influences from our parents affect our lives positively and contribute to our individuality in a good way.

Negative influences have a whole new and broader meaning. These influences are the types that work to alter a teen's individuality. Influences such as the unrealistic body image portrayed in everyday advertising and peer-pressure to experiment with drugs and alcohol can have a negative impact. Unrealistic body types pressure teens to alter their natural body type and beauty for the stereotype of what is considered beautiful. Overcoming these stereotypes can be a positive experience, affirming a teen's individuality.

Friends, parents, TV anchors and political analysts also are ready to alter our individuality by influencing what we think about everything from current world issues to a peer in school. While it is great that we live in a country where these people can express their personal viewpoints, the problem is that the opinions presented from these sources lean to one side and present the "facts" favorable to their view; giving little to go on that allows a teen to form an opinion of their own.

When presented with all of the facts unbiased, teens can decide for themselves what they want to think.

Individuality is an important characteristic. Without it we would all be mundane. Influences are key in providing variation and creating this individuality. Influences have no bigger impact in a person's life than as young adults. For better or worse, these influences help define who a teen is and dictate the choices they will make latter on.

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