Effect of Exposure Youths to Pornographic Films


Background of the Study

This study is focused at identifying how the exposure of pornographic films influence the undergraduate students of the University of Lagos. Film is categorized under the mass media as a tool of communication. It is therefore associated with the enormous influence of the mass media.

According to Burton (2002), the main power of the media, lies in the fact that they can shape what we know about the world and can be a main source of ideas and opinions.

For the sake of this study, pornographic films are moving pictures which primarily intend to arouse sexual desire in its viewer(s). Pornographic films may be divided into the following; Soft-core pornography, Hardcore pornography and Violent pornography.

Akoto, (2014) helps us define these categories citing the work of other authors as she does this. She explains that soft-core pornography is intended to arouse men and women sexually and typically contains nude and semi-nude performers engaging in casual social nudity (Williams, 1999). Soft-core pornography does not contain explicit depictions of vaginal or anal penetration, cunnilingus, and ejaculation (Dubberley, 2005).

On the other hand, hardcore pornography contain explicit depictions of sexual acts, such as vaginal, anal, and/or oral intercourse, cunnilingus, anglings, ejaculation, and/or fetish play. Distribution of hardcore pornography was widely prohibited in many countries until the second half of the 20th century when many countries began to allow some dissemination of soft-core material. Public display and advertising of hardcore pornography as well as its supply to minors is often prohibited (Campbell, 2003).

Violent pornography however, is a sexual act which is disgustingly offensive. An obscene character that portrays an explicit and realistic act which results or is likely to result in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals. It can also be an act which involves or appears to involve sexual interference with a human corpse. Violent pornography can also mean a person performing or appearing to perform an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal whether dead or alive and a reasonable person looking at the image would think that any such person or animal was real.

Pornographic films in recent times are produced and distributed on a different forms of media such as; DVDs, Internet downloads, podcast, home videos, cable tvamongst others.

In Nigeria, pornographic films are becoming increasingly popular, not just foreign porn movies, also locally made ones. The Internet has also made access to these films quite easy. The Nigerian movie industry which kicked off with films with themes of witchcraft, ritualism and greed has in my opinion shifted a little from these themes, probably in an attempt to copy the western world.

Pornography is a largely controversial topic. Wagner, (1990) opines that pornography is the written or visual presentation in a realistic form of any genital or sexual behavior with a deliberate violation of existing and widely accepted moral and social taboos (as cited in Harvey, 2004). With this definition of pornography, before a material is deemed pornographic, it must asides from depicting genital or sexual behavior, violate existing and widely accepted and social taboos. On the other hand, Harvey, (2004) citing Hunt, (1996) sees pornography as the explicit depiction of sexual organs and sexual practices with the aim of arousing sexual feelings. However, the determination of whether a material is pornographic is largely dependent on an individual’s perception of what the acceptable social and moral taboos are and if the material violates them.

Pornographic films have been produced for a long time and is highly profitable, especially with the with the help of the new technology (smartphones, tabs, other handheld devices) and the Internet, statistics from a report by Adult Industry Medical Health Foundation (2004) revealed that more than 11 million teenagers who are between the ages of 12 and 17 years view pornography online. The report showed that there are 4.2 million pornographic websites, 420 million pornographic web pages and 68 million daily search engine requests. The report also indicated that 50% of men and 20% of women in the church regularly view porn. Of 1351 pastors surveyed, 54% had viewed internet pornography within the year prior to the research. Pornography has become a morally debated social issue; according to Griffith, Mitchell, Hart, Adams &Gu (2013), whether it is harmful to those who use it or not.

Statement of the problem

Film is a very powerful medium that can reach a large number of people and as observed from the study, pornographic films through the Internet reaches a large number of people. Pornographic film is an audio visual medium capable of producing the most vociferous outburst through the portrayal of pornography, violence and other immoral acts. This means pornographic films, possess the powerful characteristics explained by Severin and Tankard and with the increasing popularity of these films, we need to understand what exposure to them causes or does not cause.

On the other hand, OusmaneSembène, one of the greatest filmmakers to come out of Africa and is also often referred to as the “Father of African Cinema”, according to an article written about him in the Los Angeles times (2007) believed film is a tool or communicator of social change and culture. Taking his definition of film into consideration, one wonders if pornographic film as a film genre, is really a tool for social change and culture. The need to understand how exposure to pornographic films affect the society, due to the popularity of these films and more importantly how it affects the youths, prompts the researcher to study and investigate the influence of pornographic films on the lifestyle of undergraduate students of the University of Lagos.

MacKinnon (1993) argued that pornography is harmful to all those involved. However, despite its pervasiveness, people like Strossen, (1995) had suggested that pornography is not a problem but fairly being (as cited in Akoto, 2014).

Objectives of the study

The main object of this study is to investigate the influence pornographic films on the lifestyle of youths. Other objectives include;

  1. To determine extent of exposure youths are exposed to pornographic films.
  2. To find out the perception of youths are towards pornographic films.
  3. To determine if and to what extent, pornographic films have any affect the lifestyle of youths.
  4. To find out why youths watch pornographic films.



Research questions

The study specifically provided answers to the following questions:

  1. To what extent are youths exposed to pornographic films?
  2. What is the perception of youths towards pornographic films?
  3. To what extent are youths affected by being exposed to pornographic films?
  4. What are the factors responsible for the viewing of pornographic films?

Scope and limitation of the study

The undergraduate students of the University of Lagos make up the population for this study and the survey research method was used because the study involves the kind of population that would be too large to be observed directly.

The unavailability of time as the researcher had to carry out other academic activities at the same time this study was conducted made it difficult for the researcher to carry out a wider and more thorough work on the topic.

Financial constrain is all a limitation to this study as adequate materials could not be obtained.


Significance of the study

This study will be of benefit to the Nigerian society as this work will help us understand if exposure to pornographic films have any effect on, affect or influence the lifestyle of youth.

It will also show what the factors responsible for viewing pornographic films by Nigerian youths are.

Furthermore, it will help scholars, researchers or writers who may wish to carry out further studies on exposure of pornographic films on youths and also proffer useful suggestions and recommendations to other researchers conducting further research in this area.





The action or process of producing effects on the action, behavior and opinions of another or others.


Pornographic films are films intended to make people feel sexually excited by showing naked people or sexual acts, usually in a way that many other people find offensive.



The way in which a person or group of people lives and works.


Thisrefers to full-time studentsof the University of Lagos.



The time of life when someone is young especially before a child becomes an adult; the time when a young person has not yet become an adult.

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