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Television has been considered a major influencer of its viewers world-wide on a lot of things especially in attitudinal and behavioural capacities. This study probed the influence of Western entertainment television programmes on the behaviour of Nigerian youths. The study was anchored on the Social Learning theory and Cultivation. Using the survey method, and questionnaire as instrument; a total of 300 students from Babcock University were selected. Findings revealed that Western entertainment television programmes influenced the style of dressing of Nigerian youths (60.7%), sexual behaviour (60.5%) and food habits by (58.7%); that youths exhibit violent behaviours, imitate foreign accent and engage in public display of affection as a result of watching Western entertainment programmes. It was recommended that programme producers should be more creative and original in the production of indigenous programmes, reduce the emphasis placed on body shape, and that parents should help reduce amount of sexual and violent content they expose their wards to at home by having family programmes viewing time .





1.1 Background To The Study

Each mass medium has unique characteristics, which places it at advantage over other media. Television, for instance, has a wide range of advantages over other media structures as a result of its audio visual component. In fact, despite the unprecedented development of so many new media technologies over the past decade, television remains the most global and powerful of all media. Undeniably, television content are encompassing nowadays – from sitcoms and soap operas to reality shows, from sporting events to music video countdowns, and from our favourite blockbusters to animal documentaries. As anyone who knows a youth can attest, television is among the most powerful forces in adolescents’ lives today. It is an important medium of communication in the 21st century and is used for several reasons including information acquisition, education, preservation of cultural heritage, surveillance of the society, and entertainment as it provides millions with a constant stream of free leisure strategies and opportunities; family matters; messages about peers, relationships, gender, sex, violence, religion, food, values and cloths just to mention a few. In fact, besides (maybe) sleeping, a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF, 2010) revealed that youths spend more time with media than with any other activity — an average of more than 7½ hours a day, seven days a week.

Despite the overwhelming qualities (light, colour, sound and motion) which empower television to command a major proportion of media consumption, the audience may reject its programmes if its content derails from their cultural traits. The multicultural nature of our society today exists as the effect of global media and the emergence of new technologies have paved way for access to diverse and remote cultures via our television, radio, internet, supermarkets and shopping centres. A society like Nigeria which is culturally, ethnically and linguistically diverse may recognise the enriching value of diverse cultures and values, and use them in its own way. But then, discussion of this scenario normally emphasises on the negative effects rather than positive.

While it can not be argued that media imperialism has attracted the attention of many 21st century social science scholars, it should be pointed out that the issue is still very alien to Africans because scholarly works have been very limited on it.

Although arguments have been equally put forward that the media cannot be blamed for these ills, Lodziak (1986) affirms McQuail’s position on media that, “if we did not fundamentally believe media to have important long term consequences we could not devote so much time to their study”. Since the media has tremendous effects, media researchers and writers have devoted time and resources to critically study it. Therefore, the assumption that television is powerful is widely shared by concerned members of the public and media researchers alike.

Just like any other mass media, television has cultural repercussions on its viewers. The term culture can be defined as the totality of learned, socially transmitted customs, knowledge, material objects and behaviour. Schaefer (2002) cited in Nwegbu, Eze and Asogwa (2011). It can be deduced from this definition that an individual’s behaviour is an offshoot of the culture s/he subscribes to.

Behaviour can be defined as the way in which an individual behaves or acts.  It is the way an individual conducts herself/himself. It is also the way an individual acts towards people, society or objects.  Behaviour may be viewed as bad or good, normal or abnormal according to societal norms.  Society will always try to correct bad behaviour and try to bring abnormal behaviour back to normal. UNESCO (2000)

The influence of western television programmes may be seen in the attitudes and behaviour of Nigerian youths and this varies from food habits, to mode of dressing and sexual orientation (Devadas & Ravi, 2013). The U.S culture for example largely values thinness and beauty in women (Baran, 2006). This can be seen in programmes like Dr 90210 and Botched on E- entertainment television. Question is, can these programmes influence the thought process of Nigerian youths to the extent that they become not just conscious of what they look like but even go ahead to become dissatisfied with their body shape.

American made programs are seen practically in every country where television exists and it is believed to exert influential power in various developing countries. There is no doubt that one of the more remarkable phenomena of the 21st century is the widespread diffusion and accompanying popularity of American films and television entertainment programs throughout the world.

The widespread penetration of cable and satellite television in Nigeria for example may be a testimonial to the above statement. The DSTV (Digital Satellite Television) for example has become so popular in Nigeria. With over a hundred channels at viewers disposal, and the transmission of largely foreign programs. This includes films, soap operas, reality television shows, music videos, fashion television and much more. A lot of these programs are of western orientation, behaviour and culture. As a matter of fact, even the indigenous local entertainment channels produce and transmit a huge number of programs that tend towards western ideology of video, pictures and life style. Daily, there is an increasing manifestation of lifestyle and behavioural pattern among Nigerian youths that is largely skewed towards foreign or western culture. For example, the manner of dressing (saggy pants), eating (eatery culture), talk (slangs and widening use of the F word), has become so prevalent that it is difficult not to connect it with the amount of time devoted to programs with foreign orientation they are daily fed to since it did not hail from traditional Nigerian cultures. This research therefore is an attempt find out the possible relationship between the content viewed on television and the gradual spreading of a new culture of living and behaviour that is not just emerging but fast getting entrenched among Nigerian youths.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

In recent times, there has been a huge concern over the Nigerian culture which seems to be taking a downward plunge among the average Nigerian youth. Trends and patterns have emerged in their food habits, mode of dressing and sexual orientation that is not consistent with known Nigerian cultural orientations. Values that are supposed to define and guide the overall behaviour of Nigerian youths are daily being neglected. Since there is no school or subject that teaches the need to discountenance established cultural values, where food, dress and sexuality is concerned, it is not impossible that these changes in attitude and behaviour may be connected with the western television programs that Nigerian youths are exposed to.

According to O’Donnell (2007) television programs reflect a society’s values, norms and practices as well as fads, interest and trends. Western television programs largely reflect the western culture through their programs. Fashion TV and Style for example are entertainment stations that deals with fashion and lifestyle in western countries. These stations makes youths increasingly aware of fashion trends and there seems to be the urge to try to keep up with the standards of the westerns. Music and music videos are not excluded, as there are some musical content on Multichoice’ DSTV that overtly depict sexual promptings. This can be seen on channels like MTV base, Trace and Sound City.

Languages such as being ‘hot and sexy’ for example has become new trends among viewers and may have contributed not just to the increased rate of indecent dressing prevalent among students of Nigerian universities, but also their eating pattern and sexual behaviour which are all connected. Although Babcock and Covenant Universities are private Christian institutions where the dress codes are enforced to regulate students’ dress behaviour and orientation, the researchers chose these relatively conservative Christian schools in Nigeria to establish whether or not the emerging trend on television programs have any hold on the behaviour of these students. This study will therefore among other things, try to find out if Western entertainment television programmes could be responsible for some of the emerging behavioural and attitudinal patterns among Nigerian youths presented in this research work.

1.3 Objective of the study

The main objective of the study is to determine the influence of western programmes on DSTV television on behavioural values of youths. Specifically, the it aim:

  1. Determine the influence of western programmes on DSTV television on the food habits of Nigerian youths
  2. To examine how western programmes on DSTV television influence the mode of dressing of Nigerian youths
  3. To examine ways in which western television programs shaped the sexual orientation of Nigerian youths
  4. To examine how western television programs impacted on the behaviours of Nigerian youths

1.4 Research Questions 

  1. To what extent has western television programs influenced the food habits of Nigerian youths?
  2. How does exposure to western television programs influence the mode of dressing of Nigerian youths?
  3. In what ways has western television programs shaped the sexual orientation of Nigerian youths?
  4. To what extent has western television programs impacted on the behaviours of Nigerian youths?

1.5 Significance of the study

The influence of television on humanity is encompassing. Several works have observed the psychological aspects of watching television. People are affected differently, depending on the information type and exposure level, (Obono and Madu, 2010) citing (Bandura, 1973; Van, 1990).

Many studies tend to criticize the media for the negative influences on audience’s attitude and morality. Television is said to be the cause of violence among youths and children. Moreover, cartoons such as Popeye, Superman, Scooby and Scrappy Doo are said to have many violent scenes and proved to influence children in their lives, like the way they play and the clothes they wear (CAP, 1983, in Norsiah, n.d.).

This study therefore sought to draw the attention of broadcast practitioners and owners to the vital role television plays as an agent of socialisation. Bearing this in mind, broadcast practitioners and owners will be mindful of the kind and content of programmes they air, most especially at prime time, knowing fully the susceptible nature of adolescents.

By embarking on this study the researcher hopes to contribute to possible dilution, domination and absorption of the Nigerian culture from exposure to western television. Yet, his aspirations do not end there. He is optimistic that his investigation will prompt the government and policy makers to put adequate measures in place to check the inflow of Western television programmes and films into Nigeria.



1.6 Scope of the study

The scope of this study is to investigate the influence of media imperialism and the claim it has affected and undermined local Nigerian values. It specifically examines the influence of Western media content on the cultural values of Nigerian youths using DSTV viewers in Babcock university as a case study.

1.7 Limitations to the Study

This research like every other study before it has its own limitations. The shortcomings of this study are:

  1. a) Although there are sufficient relevant materials (journals, books, etc.) for the literature review, some journals are not accessible online and acquiring them could prove impossible considering the tedious procedure involved (especially through online purchase).
  2. b) The fact that the study is about the influence of Westernisation of the media and the claim it has affected and undermined local Nigerian values. The sample population for the study was taken from Babcock The representativeness of this sample may affect external validity and also the findings of the study cannot be easily generalised beyond the population of study. Lagos would have been a better area of study because it is the economic core of the country and it is also home to people of varying ethnicities and social strata.

1.8 Operational Definitions

  1. a) Cultural identity: refers to those commonly shared socio-political cultural traits relating to beliefs, norms, values, attitudes and behaviours that fits individuals into the Nigerian society.
  2. b) Media: refers to television. In this study media, mass media and mass communication tools are used interchangeably.
  3. c) West: used interchangeably with Western, refers to American and European societies operating under democratic and capitalist systems.
  4. d) Westernization: refers to conscious and unconscious domination by Western

TV products on Nigeria’s media systems.

  1. e) Youth: it refers to a group of people (from ages 13 to 30) who pass through the transitional stage of physical and mental development that occurs between childhood and adulthood. In this study, adolescents, youths and young people are used interchangeably.


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