Influence of Mass Media on Sexual Health Behaviour of College Students in Nigeria: A Study of Lagos State University

Article excerpt

This paper examines the effects of mass media on the sexual health behaviour of single college students in Nigeria. Simple random sampling procedure was adopted. A total of 300 pre-coded questionnaires were administered in study population. Data analysis reveals that the respondents are more frequently exposed to the internet (75%), TV (77%) and radio (75%). More frequent exposure to print, home video and internet media are significantly related to rising level of sexual activities among female respondents. Frequent exposure to radio (over 3 times) and internet (4 times) are more likely to influence condom use positively among male respondents. Among their female counterparts, more frequent internet utilization (almost twice) is more likely to raise the level of condom use. Thus, an international accord on the content of the mass media, especially on their moral implications for the younger generation is imperative.

Young people are characterized by sudden consciousness of the presence of biological sexuality. They are more often under pressure to explore it. Thus, sexual trial is a very risky behaviour popular in this population. In recent times, such behaviour has been on the increase in developing countries. In a national survey conducted in Nigeria, the median age at first sex for young people aged 15 to 24 years was 18 among females and 19 among their male counterparts (Federal Ministry of Health, 2006). The survey indicates that over 60 percent of females and about 50 percent of males aged between 15 and 24 years reported ever had sex. Ever use of condom in this population is roughly 30 percent. This pattern of behaviour makes youths highly vulnerable to sex related deadly diseases. For instance, more than half of new HIV infection was reported in sub-Saharan Africa in 2006 was among young people and girls are the most vulnerable (World Health Organisation (WHO), 2006). The question here is what role is print and electronic mass media playing in the prevalence of the pattern of sexual behaviour among young people in Nigeria?

The country is undergoing rapid modernization, largely rooted in gradual emergence of capitalist values. The mass media is gaining ground in the nooks and crannies of cities, towns and villages. Virtually all the 36 states in the country own at least a radio and TV station besides the privately owned ones emerging all over the country. Just like in any modern or modernizing society, mass media is very likely to be popular among young people in secondary and tertiary institutions (Brown and Keller 2000; Brown 2002; Ikpe 2004; Wusu and Isiugo-Abanihe 2007). Little is known about the contributions of mass media to the pattern of sexual behaviour of young adult, especially in developing countries. All over the world, studies on the effects of the media on the sexual knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour of people are in its infancy (Rich, 2005). It is then a worthy research goal to examine how mass media impact the sexual behaviour of this vulnerable population.

Few studies that have considered this issue in sub-Saharan Africa either stumbled over it in the field or examined how the media could be utilized to increase contraceptive adoption. Also the direction of the effects is not yet clear. For instance, Wusu and Isiugo-Abanihe (2007) in a field study in south-western Nigeria, observes that the internet, sexy films, pornographic pictures in print media, emotional TV programs and family planning advertisement promote illicit sexual behaviour among young people. Ikpe (2004) argues that the invention of the internet and its availability in the country is influencing youth's sexuality. Though various studies have observed the positive association between mass media and the use of contraception (Bankole, German and Charles (1996); Kane Mohamadu, llene, Sara and Danielle (1998); Rogers, Vaughan, Swalehe, Rao, Svenkerud and Sood, . (1999); Meekers, Rosssem, Silva and Koleros (2000); Gupta, Katende and Bessinger (2003)) none examined the impact of mass media on sexual health behaviour of young adult. …