This study examines the relationship between new media and sexual behavioural orientations amongst undergraduate students. In the light of the study, the concept of sexual orientation and its components by comparing the common orientations of heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexuality was examined. Human rights groups argue that the media has a responsibility of serving society without discrimination by creating awareness for acceptance of the different genders and sexual orientations. A questionnaire survey was used to collect data from one hundred and ninety-seven (197) undergraduate students from two (2) tertiary institutions in Kwara State, Nigeria. The findings of this study indicated that there is a significant relationship between exposure to sexual contents through media and sexual behavioural orientations amongst undergraduate students. Therefore, it is recommended that the media – being a powerful means of disseminating information and given the youths strong involvement with it, and the ever evolving content- should self-regulate by ensuring that the content aired relating to sexuality, objectively educates and informs the public so that they can make informed decisions as opposed to encouraging perversion and violence.
- BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Man is a social animal, and so had continued to explore possible means of interacting with his fellow being and environment over the years. Today, the advancement in the field of communication technology created a world with no boundary or limitations. We have witnessed the immense power of the internet and now, with the launch of Web 2.0, social networking sites are redefining the field of communication, which according to Marshall McLuhan, had, in conjunction with other communication media and technology, turned the world into a global village, thereby, diffusing both time and space. The internet and World Wide Web are initially designed to move data and information from one location to another in a reliable and most efficient manner. However, “after almost 20years since Dr. Barnes – Lee created the web, the idea of sharing has taken on a whole new dimension. The success and popularity of social networking sites shows that the idea of online sharing has been successfully taken to the social and personal level”. (Embi & Hassan, 2012, p. 56).
Having grown up with the internet and digital technologies, today’s youths are the most wired and connected generation in human history. The majority of today’s youths are using the internet as a medium for social interactions, research, sharing ideas, photography, artistic creation, school work, journalizing, or blogging. However, at the same time, they are being exposed through the media to a variety of sexual and violent materials, which is defining and redefining their sexual behaviours. Indisputably, many undergraduate students have been caught in the social networking Web World Wide. They have not only fully integrated the social sites in their daily lives, which portends both negative and positive impacts and implications; but they have made it a necessary and almost indispensable part of them.
Recent evidence suggests that youths with sexual orientations, such as; lesbians, gay, and bisexual youths identify or ‘come out’ at a younger age, often by age 15, and are using the internet to facilitate this process (Elias, 2007; Grov, Bimbi, Nanin & parsons, 2006; Savin – Williams, 2005). Previous investigation has examined the influence of the media on gay, lesbian, and bisexual identity using both survey and in-depth interview approaches. The investigations further showed that gay, lesbian, and bisexual survey respondents indicated that the media influenced their self- realizations, coming out, and current identities by providing role models and inspirations. Also that media role models serve as sources of pride, inspirations, and comfort (Sarah, C. & Traci, A., 2011). McClintock & Herdt (1996), stated that, it is likely that college students have been aware of a pattern of erotic feelings since before puberty, although a small percentage of youth may never have had erotic feelings. By the time American adolescents are old enough for college, most will already be sexually active (Mosher, Chandra & Jones, 2005), and some youths will have already identified (‘come out’) as gay, lesbians, or bisexual (Savin-Williams, 2005), if only to close friends or internet acquaintances. Whether lesbians, gay, bisexuals or curious young people are certain about their sexual identity when they arrive on campus, the college environment’s diverse student population, their relative independence from parental oversight, and the presence of alcohol and substances present an opportunity for students to explore their sexuality and self-identity (Wetherill, Neal & Fromme, 2010.). The fundamental concern of this study is to investigate into new media and sexual behavioural orientations amongst undergraduate students.
1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Sexual behavior amongst youths has been studied in varied situations. Ojo and Fasubaa (2005) opine that adolescent’s sexual behavior in Nigeria and Sub-Sahara Africa is seriously going through transformation from what it used to be in the past. They attributed this to the effect of modernization caused by education, exposure and enculturation through importation of various foreign culture which were alien to the people, particularly Nigerian culture.
Before now, the major deterrents against these vices were previously cultural orientation and religious beliefs. Unfortunately, the internet, more than any other agent of social change has contributed in no small measure to the removal of guilt, fear, and shame associated with unconventional sexual activities. This is facilitated by the anonymity which the internet medium provides.
There is a strong appetite among young adults in Nigeria to explore sex activities. They go out of their way to negotiate sex. Children involved in hawking wares to assist in making ends meet at home, sometimes fall victim to the lure of young adults who expose them to internet pornography in the quest to awaken their sexual response on the internet. Emeozor (2005) raised an alarm on the possible relationship between access to pornographic contents on the internets and risky sexual behavioural tendencies that can lead to the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.
In African countries, while culture may be dynamic, the values and morals that act as the cornerstone of African people cannot be changed. African leaders feel that homosexuality is a taboo and against their culture and religious beliefs. Same sex relationships threaten family values and as a result are unacceptable and cannot be incorporated into the African way. (Miller,2005, p.17).
In a society where heterosexuality is often presented as the only acceptable orientation and homosexuality is regarded as deviant, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people face tremendous difficulties growing up. They continue to face discrimination and exclusion across the world n all spheres of life. In the labour market, a majority of lesbians, gay, bisexual, and transgender people continue to hide their sexual orientation to endure harassment out of their fear of losing their jobs. Several studies have been carried out in Nigeria to examine the effect of social media on adolescent sexuality. Many of these studies, for instance; Ajayi (2010), Idakwo (2010), and Ilevbare (2011), focus on the general use of technologies. However, early in the development of social networking, Adebayo, et al., (2006) examined the relationship among gender, internet use, and sexual behavioural orientation amongst young Nigerians. Their study provided support for the influence of gender and internet use on sexual behavior. They demonstrated that as the use of the internet increased, male participants reported a greater extent of risky sexual behaviour orientation than their female counterpart. Kujuni’s (2012) study is most related to this study. The result of the study showed that when young persons are exposed to sexuality-related information on the internet and/or involved in online sexual activities, their sexual mores are shaped by the information to which they have been exposed.
Information, behavior change communication, and access to treatment, are fundamental to the control of infections, especially sexually transmitted infections. In situations where discriminatory practices exist, health-seeking behavior is hindered. Individuals with same sex sexuality are not likely to seek information and counselling services and other preventive services, when they are at risk of stigmatization.
Repeated negative comments, assaults, and discriminatory practices, affect the mental health and well-being of those concerned. In many settings, homosexual and bisexual youths face a lot of harassment in school and relaxation spots (American psychological Association, 2005). The effect of discrimination practices on the health of adolescents and youths could be profound (Resnick, et al., 1997). Some others as bisexual having multiple partners of both sexes, which could encourage heterosexual transmission of STIs when protective measures are not taken.
According to Jenkins (2006), TV as a part of media has the power to shape the opinion and beliefs of the youth, it is important therefore to be aware of what the youths are exposed to everyday and how it affects them.
1.2 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions were addressed:
- What is the level of new media amongst undergraduate students?
- What is the level of sexual behavioural orientation amongst undergraduate students?
- Is there a relationship between exposure to sexual contents through media and sexual behavioural orientation amongst undergraduate students?
- How has new media portrayed sexual behavioural orientations amongst undergraduate students?
- Is there any relationship between genetic, environmental influence and sexual behavioural orientations amongst undergraduate students?
1.3 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
The objectives of this study were:
- To examine the level of new media amongst undergraduate students.
- To examine the level of sexual behavioural orientation amongst undergraduate students.
- To examine the relationship between exposure to sexual content through media and sexual behavioural orientation amongst undergraduate students.
- To examine how new media, portray sexual behavioural orientations amongst undergraduate students.
- To examine the relationship between genetic, environmental influence and sexual behavioural orientation amongst undergraduate students.
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
The following null (Ho) and alternative (Ho) hypotheses was tested in this study:
- Ho: There is no significant relationship between exposure to sexual contents through media and sexual behavioural orientation amongst undergraduate students.
H1: There is a significant relationship between exposure to sexual contents through media and sexual behavioural orientation amongst undergraduate students.
- Ho: There is no significant relationship between genetic traits influences and sexual behavioural orientation amongst undergraduate students.
H1: There is a significant relationship between genetic traits influences and sexual behavioural orientation amongst undergraduate students.
- Ho: There is no significant relationship between environmental influences and sexual behavioural orientation amongst undergraduate students.
H1: There is a significant relationship between environmental influences and sexual behavioural orientation amongst undergraduate students.
- Ho: There is no significant relationship between media role model and sexual behavioural orientation amongst undergraduate students.
H1: There is a significant relationship between media role model and sexual behavioural orientation amongst undergraduate students.
- Ho: There is no significant relationship between media role model and how new media shapes one’s sexual behavioural orientation amongst undergraduate students.
H1: There is a significant relationship between media role model and how new media shapes one’s sexual behavioural orientation amongst undergraduate students.
- Ho: There is no significant relationship between family background and genetic trait influence amongst undergraduate students.
H1: There is a significant relationship between family background and genetic trait influence amongst undergraduate students.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this study was to investigate how new media has made effect on sexual behaviours amongst undergraduate students. That is, how the technological means of communication has been successfully taken to the social and personal level.
Interestingly, this study is of large importance to the undergraduate students, and the society at large, in the sense that, it awakens unconscious minds to what they see online and practice offline. The study enables individuals to distinguish safe and unsafe situations (both online and offline). This made the study unique and significant.
Also, this research work is contributing to existing literatures on the subject matter by examining the trend of new media and sexual behavioural orientations amongst undergraduate students.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study examined the patterns and trends of new media and its effect on the sexual behavioural orientations of undergraduate students, which includes adolescents and young adults; surfing sexual behavior amongst youths, exposure of students to a variety of sexual and violent materials, which is defining and redefining their social behaviours. This study also examined the influence the media has on the offline sexual decision amongst undergraduate students.
1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
One of the major limitation of this study was that the period of time given by the authority for the study did not allow for in-depth coverage of all issues connected with the topic under study and collection of related information.
1.8 CONCEPTUAL CLARIFICATION
- New media
- Sexual behavior
- Sexual orientations
- Social networking sites
- Internet surfing behavior
- Sexual Identity
- Undergraduate Students
- NEW MEDIA: The term ‘new media’ emerged to capture a sense that quite rapidly from the late 1980s on, the world of media and communications began to look quite different and this difference was not restricted to any one sector or element of that world, although the actual timing of change may have been different from medium to medium. New media were caught up with and seen as part of these other kinds of change (as both cause and effect), and the sense of ‘new times’ and ‘new eras’ which followed in their wake. In this sense, the emergence of ‘new media’ as some kind of epoch-making phenomena, was, and still is seen as part of a much larger landscape of social, technological and cultural change, in short, as part of a new ‘technoculture’.
- SEXUAL BEHAVIOUR: (Human) Sexual behavior refers to a broad spectrum of behaviours in which humans display their sexuality. These behavioural expressions contains both biological element and cultural influences and involves sexual arousal (with its physiological changes, both pronounced and subtle, in the arousal person).
- SEXUAL ORIENTATIONS: Sexual orientations has been said to refer to a person’s erotic and emotional orientation towards members of his or her own sex or member of the other sex (Herek, 1994). It is thought to be an expression of physical sexual attraction or identity. Various forms of orientations are known to exist over the world. They include;
- Homosexuality: a romantic and/or sexual attraction or behaviour between members of the same sex or gender. For example, a male that is sexually attracted to a male or vice versa.
- Heterosexuality: the state of being sexually and romantically attracted primarily or exclusively to persons of the opposite sex.
- Bisexuality: the state of being sexually or romantically attracted to members of either sex. For example, a female that feels sexually attracted to females and males.
- Transgender: having a gender (identity) which is different from the sex one was assigned at birth. For example, being assigned male at birth but, having a female gender or vice versa.
- SOCIAL NETWORKNG SITES: “Networking” emphasizes relationship relation, often between strangers. Social network sites are web-based services that allow individuals to construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, to articulate a list of other users, with whom they share a connection, and view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system (Boyd & Ellison, 2007). The nature and nomenclature of these connections may vary from site to site. Examples are; facebook, twitter, and so on.
- INTERNET SURFING BEHAVIOUR: The internet is a communication network that connect networks and organizational computer facilities around the world. It was widely introduced to Nigeria as a nation, as a metamorphic evidence of development during the democratic regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo. Internet surfing behavior can be defined as the attitude and number of time that the adolescent and young adults spend surfing the internet. In our society today, young people are internet addicts, they spend much time surfing the internet.
- SEXUAL IDENTITY: This refers to how one thinks of oneself in terms of whom one is sexually and romantically attracted to.
- UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT: An undergraduate is the description given to a student who is undertaking degree level academic course at a college or university. Following completion of the relevant examinations, one can enter a third level institution as an undergraduate student.