Types of peer groups
During high school you will belong to a number of different groups with your peers, including peer pairs, peer groups and peer crowds.
Peer pairs begin in early childhood. When you’re young, a peer might be the child of a friend of your parents, a cousin, or a neighbour of similar age. These early peer pair relationships can fade as you both get older and develop different interests. Some will turn into friendships that last many years.
By the time you start high school, your most important peer pair relationship will be you and your best friend. Your best friend might be a neighbour you’ve known since you were both little, a friend from primary school, or someone you’ve met at high school.
Your best friend is likely to be the person you choose to spend the most time with. You have shared interests, laugh at the same jokes, share similar concerns. Your best friend is someone you trust and turn to for help.
High school is also a time when romantic peer pair relationships develop. You may feel attracted to other students and want to form a romantic relationship with someone.
Peer groups and cliques
A peer group is a group of your peers. During high school, you’ll be involved in different peer groups for a variety of reasons.
- travel to and from school together
- know from primary school
- have classes together
- play sport together
- group project for class
- drama group.
Peer groups can be made up of friendship groups, or they could be a group of acquaintances that have a common interest, such as playing a particular online game, being a fan of a band or musician, going to a youth club or playing in a sports team.
You will know others in a peer group, but not in the same way you know your best friend. Your relationship with your best friend will be much closer. You will share more personal information and spend more time hanging out with your best friend than you would with people who are just part of your peer group.
A clique is a smaller group of friends that spend a lot of time together and often don’t welcome others into the group.
Cliques form for many reasons, some positive and negative. A group may form a clique and prevent other members joining in order to appear more popular and have greater influence on their peers.
A clique could form between a group of people who don’t fit in to other groups within the school. They form their own clique and prevent others from joining. Membership of cliques can change often and is usually based on similar interests or types of behaviour.
As you grow older these groups become more independent as socialising occurs away from the family group and school. Lack of adult supervision can be seen by some groups as an opportunity for risk taking. Some groups might also challenge the accepted norms about how people should behave.
A peer crowd is a gathering of so many individuals that it’s impossible to know everyone personally. Formed to pursue a shared interest or purpose, a peer crowd can feel and function like a community with similar likes, beliefs or convictions.
Despite their size, peer crowds can provide an important sense of identity and belonging—who we are and how we might fit into the world.