A peer group is a group of people of approximately the same age, status, and interests. The relationship among the group members are quite informal in nature and a strong ‘we’ feeling exists. There is no distinction of caste, colour, class or creed. As far as the school is concerned the students in a class can be considered as the members of a peer group. Sometimes the group may consist of students from other divisions of the same level. Being in the peer group, the members enjoy ultimate freedom and action since there is no one with an authoritative leadership in the group unlike the family. The peer groups are the activity groups of young children, which also play the educational role of informal agency in their own way. They are the associations formed spontaneously for the purpose of recreation or play or such other common mutual interests. It helps the child in the development of rational conscience and scale of values. Peer group also help to equip young people efficiently and effectively for future. It has high influence in personality development and it determines the social behaviours of the child.
Different kinds of peer groups are play groups, gangs and cliques.
Play groups: The play group is common among the children, there could be a minimum or no adult supervision in this group, and it is also spontaneous and informal. Here the intention of being in the group is play and enjoyment. The group members can be students from the same school and the neighbourhood friends of approximately the same age. Play groups are formed in the early childhood.
Gangs: The Gang is a group by which there is a recognized leader. The members are expected to follow their rules of behaviours, they have a definite place to stay, meeting time and they have planned activities. Sometimes, they even have a password. Gender difference is found here, though the gangs are formed by both boys and girls, a mixed gang is very rare. Gangs often lead to antisocial activities. The power of a gang can be utilised positively in a school by involving them in various activities and clubs such as social service scheme, arts club, agriculture club etc. groups are formed in the later childhood and adolescence.
Cliques: The Clique is a group by which the members have the same line of thinking as well as interest. They are smaller groups with common interests and strong ‘we’ feeling. They interact with each other more regularly and intensely than others. They are keeping away from the other students and found always together.
A wise teacher can deviate the negative tendencies of any peer group to a healthy one. There are several educational Influences of peer groups. They are:
Education: Philosophy, Sociology and Economics. (edited by: Naseerali M.K.)