Social media and sexuality amongst teenage girls in Buea
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The unrestricted exposure of social media to teenage girls exposes them to diverse content and subjective opinions on sexuality and so this can influence them one way or other. This study sought to assess the implications of social media platforms on the sexuality of teenage girls in Buea and Molyko Buea were selected as the case study. A descriptive survey research method was adopted and primary data was collected using structured questionnaires issued to teenage girls in Buea using purposive sampling. Data collected was analysis was presented on tables and charts. The results of the study revealed that the teenage girls in the study mostly came from different age from 17 to 19 years, and were mostly university who use internet for about 7 hours a day. These teenage girls in Buea are exposed to a wide variety of social media platforms mainly Whatsapp, Tiktok, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Telegram, and Wechat. And also carry out certain specific activities on social media platforms including posting pictures and videos, watch skits online, connect with friends, get updates, make video online calls and study. Finally, it revealed that social media affects the sexuality of teenage girls in Buea in several dimensions comprising the dressing style, finding partners, understanding of the opposite sex, how to be intimate, managing of their emotions. It was recommended that parents should be watchful of the available content online and guide their teenage girls on the correct information regarding their sexuality.
1.1 Background to the study
Recent research indicates that the use of social media has increased dramatically among adolescent (teenagers) for the past 10 years, as they have the tendency of seeking diverse information on social media (Freitas, 2020). At the same time, young people’s sexual cultures are increasingly intertwined with social media. While social media is now an integral part of the daily life of most young people around the world, the information consistently spread on these ever increasing number of social media platforms turns to influence their way of lifestyle and other very important living habits including their sexuality.
Interacting with friends and family across long distances has been a concern of humans for centuries. As social animals, people have always relied on communication to strengthen their relationships. When face-to-face discussions are impossible or inconvenient, humans have dreamed up plenty of creative solutions.
In our society today we use social media for variety of purposes to make new friends, keep up with certain trends, to express ourselves to the world, to stay in contact with friends and family, we often see especially those who live a long way away. Social media has been around for 2 decades, before that, methods of staying in contact with love ones over long distances were nearly not as simple. The early means if communication before the coming of social media especially around the 550 BC were
Written correspondence written by hand (Drew Hendricks 2013), from one person to another was the earliest method of corresponding. The earliest posted system was created in 550BC in Ancient Persia, the Persian king Cyrus the Great, mandated that every provinces in his kingdom should organise post to all it’s citizens.
Several post system were introduced in other countries, following the Persian system. However Time established the first documented post service, it was organised during the time of Caesar mailed were delivered by light characters and delivered by horses. The service was created for government correspondent but another service for citizens was later added. Over many centuries postal system were wide spread and organised this system is still widely used today but thanks to technological advancement there are other faster ways to communicate with love ones over long distances.
The worldwide web was created by Tim Burner Lee in 1989, who also created the first WWW browser. Until social media came along the internet was used for mailing list, e-commerce, online forms and personal websites. The first true social media site was six degrees was created in 1997, it allowed users to create their profile and invite friends.
In 1999 blogging first started to gain popularity with platform like Open Diary where people will write about their personal life to share with friends, family or various unknown readers. After the emergence of blogging social media exploited the scene, sites like My Space, Linkedin,Flickr gained popularity in early 2000.
In 2004 Mark Zuckerberg registered the domain name Facebook.com which went out to be the most widely used social network, now just called Facebook beginning in 2006 when it was opened up to the public, there are a huge variety of social media sites for various purpose of social media is to connect to friends, family and strangers (Megan sullivan, 2016).
A survey published in a Journal of the Adolescences Health Online claims that films, television, music, magazines and social media may act as a kind of “sexual super peer” for influence on sexual behavior. (Sam jones, 2006). All these media portrayals reinforce a relatively consistent set of sexual and relationship norms and the media rarely depict sexually responsible model; which means early adolescent are needed to learn more about how media content is attended to, interpreted and incorporated into developing their sexual lives.
Social media gives anonymity to potentials sexual predators leading to leading to cyber bullying, clique-forming and sexual experimentation .They may capitalize on this idea of secrecy and use it to send unsolicited pornographic content or sexts to vulnerable population such as teenagers which has a lot of potentials to lead to sexual exploitation and grooming. Being exposed to explicit sexual media too early can be harmful for adolescent population. Of course, adolescents should learn about sex but social media has the ability to perpetuate inaccurate and potentially harmful information. (Jane D Brown, 2002)
Most times, young people (teenagers) are make sense of sexuality in the context of social media, considering social media’s materials as well as symbolic operations drawing a 14 focus group with young people between 14 and 19 years of age in dutch speaking Belgium the result is young people’s discussions, meaning, value and norms on sexuality and social media is situated in their everyday peer group setting. This results argues how young people (teenagers) are making strong value judgments about sexuality in the context of social media and how they use a hierarchy; system to distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sexual practices in social media (Sander De Ridder, 2017)
Human sexuality is one of the fundamental drives behind everyone’s feelings thoughts and behavior. It defines the means of biological reproduction psychological and sociological representation of self-orients of a person’s attraction to others. Further, it shapes the brain and body to be pleasure seeking (Lucas D & Jennifer F, 2022).
Sexuality looks at the way people experience and express themselves sexually, this could be biological, erotic, physical, social, emotional or spiritual (Cavendish Marshall, 2010). Sexuality is all about your sexual feelings thoughts, attention and behaviors towards other people. You can find other people physically, sexually or emotionally attractive, all these makes up our sexuality. Sexuality is broad, diverse and personal, it is also an important part of who we are (sexuality explained, 2019).
According to Lukevich B (2021) Social media is a collective term for website and applications that focus on communication community-based input, interaction content-sharing and collaboration. Some popular examples of social media include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Link In.
Social media are interactive technologies (applications and softwares) that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, idea, interests using the internet. However engaging in various forms of social media is a routine activity that research has shown to benefit children and adolescent by enhancing communication, social connection, educates and even technical skill (Landry K, 2019).
Social networking sites are a increasingly popular among adolescents. These are websites that permit social interaction among users and allow users to create online profiles that may (or may not) represents the user’s real-life identity. Users personalize profile pages with images, audio, and text, and can designate ‘friends’ and other relationships. These websites are attractive to adolescents because they allow for individualized self promotion as well as inclusion into a group that may not be attainable in physical reality. During a time when it is as important to be unique as it is to fit in, SNSs allow adolescents to manufacture an image they want the world to see
In Cameroon, pedagogies and parenting styles tend to focus more on risks than on the opportunities of the Internet and also news media are reporting regularly on the dangers of social media and unwanted sexual solicitations. Generally, there is a tendency to support online risk avoidance culture, in which young people are pointed toward their individual responsibilities, explaining strategies to manage reputations and online identities. Previous research on youth, social media, and sexuality has focused on the gendered dimensions of self-representations (like sexy pictures) and communicative interactions (“sexting”), investigating both the incorporation and resistance to particular gender and sexual ideologies (Gill 2013).
Other research has focused on how social media supports sexual developmental tasks, inquiring about both the risks and opportunities related to individual (such as demographics and skills) and contextual (like education) factors (Hatchel & Subrahmanyam, 2016). However, there is a need for more in-depth engagements with young people’s voices when researching sexuality and social media (Livingstone & Mason, 2015). In the last decade, research exploring the changing dynamics of young people’s sexualities described how individualization, risk, and resistance are central features to understand the nature of the changing conditions of sexuality in contemporary Western youth culture (Johansson, 2007; Kehily, 2011; Weeks, 2007); it is crucial to understand both theoretically and empirically social media’s increasingly dominant role in the shaping of sexual culture.
This study examines how social media influences the sexuality of teenagers. It will focus principally on the influence of social media on the sexuality of teenage girls in Buea.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Social media have become an integral part of today’s culture and have helped define the latest generation of youth. Despite the promise of enhanced socialization, communication, and education, however, many adolescents’ lived experience of social media use has been negative on balance. From lowering self-esteem to creating new social norms that encourage increasingly risky behavior,
Social networks use jeopardizes the sexual and social wellness of adolescents. New research is aimed at utilizing social media for positive and effective health and wellness interventions, but much more work needs to be done to enhance the positive and mitigate the negative potential of this resource.
Adolescents use mobile phones and the Web to interact with both known and unknown peers to establish and maintain social connections. Such communication platforms are free of locale and time and are relatively easy to use, making these interactions a new way to foster the development of adolescents’ identity, self-expression, intimate relationships, and social well-being but on the other hand, Social media platforms allow self-expression, intimacy, and privacy for teenagers permitting them to set their own preferences to convey messages about their social identity, in the same manner that face-to-face interactions allow, but on a global scale and in contexts that are not always monitored by adults.
The unrestricted exposure of social media to teenage girls exposes them to diverse content and subjective opinions on sexuality and so this can influence them one way or other. Consequently, teenage girls turn to drift away from their parents as they become more comfortable discussing their sexuality with their peers or copying from celebrities or role models on social media.
1.3 Research question
The main research question is stated “What is the influence of social media on the sexuality of teenage girls in Buea?”
The specific questions are:
What is the profile of girls that make use of social media platforms?
What are the different social media platforms teenage girls are expose to?
What are the specific activities performed by teenage girls on those social media platforms?
How do social media affect the sexuality of teenage girls in Buea?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
1.4.1 Main Objective
The main objective of this study is to investigate the influence of social media on the sexuality of teenage girls in Buea.
1.4.2 Specific objectives are:
- To describe the profile of girls that make use of social media platforms.
- To identify the different social media platforms teenage girls use in Buea.
- To examine the specific activities performed by teenage girls on these social media platforms
- To examine the effect of social media on the sexuality of teenage girls