This study investigates the influence of MTV Shuga Naija soap opera on the lifestyle of youths: a study of yaba college of technology students. The specific objectives of the study are: To determine the extent of viewership of MTV Shuga Naija Soap Opera among students; To examine the opinions of students regarding MTV Shuga Naija; To ascertain the level of influence of MTV Shuga Naija Soap Opera on the lifestyle of students, and To know the implications of the influence of MTV Shuga Naija Soap Opera on the lifestyle of youths. The survey research method was adopted as a research design for this study. A simple random method was used as the sampling technique, where a questionnaire was administered to a total of 200 students from Yaba College of Technology. OND and HND students from six (6) departments were targeted for this study. The departments are Accountancy, Banking and Finance, Business Administration, Marketing, Office Technology and Management, and Public Administration. 

The result of the study shows that a large number of students watch MTV Shuga Naija as many of them believe that MTV Shuag Naija is Educative, informative and teaches about societal values. The study also noted that many of the youths have been influenced by MTV Shuga Naija in many ways, such as education on HIV/AIDS, safe sex, teenage pregnancy, gender-based violence among others. Many of the students also believe that the MTV Shuga Naija campaign has helped in their education drive seeking to change the attitude of Nigerian youth towards public health issues. The soap opera does not seem to have a negative effect on many of the youths in the area of drinking, Smoking, Clubbing, Pre-marital sex, and Abortion.

The study concludes that producers of soap operas such as MTV Shuga Naija should come up with more educative programmes that can impact the lives of youths. It further recommends that the current broadcast reach of MTV Shuga Naija should be extended beyond the terrestrial stations and that youths should watch and learn from these programmes as they are mostly shaped to guide their actions.



1.1  Background to the study

Soap opera is considered a viable medium of entertainment, especially within the family and social circle. It is regarded as a means of communicating various societal values and norms. Brown (1994:173) refers to the entertainment that soap opera offers as active and re-active pleasure; referring to the fact that soap opera possesses inherent action and corresponding reaction from viewers. To a large extent, soap opera goes beyond mere entertainment to its teeming viewers, but it also influences society, especially the youths (Edet, 2017:1).

Soap opera touches on various aspects of human endeavors such as politics, ethnicity, religion, economy, among others. Every moving image viewed on-screen conveys a meaning that is to be deciphered by the audience. As part of mass communication, it involves the use of vision and sound (audio-visual) in transmitting and disseminating its messages. The messages can be used in educating, informing, entertaining, and socializing its target audience (Eneh, 2018).

Apparently, people learn about their societies through what they watch from television, which makes soap opera relevant and more meaningful in addressing issues of social concerns. Soap Opera, if properly and ideologically structured, is viewed as having the potentials of communicating development messages which are considered as vital aspects of drama production (Edet, 2017:1). This line of thought is exemplified in some popular soapopera serials, such as MTV Shuga Naija, Jenifa’s Diary, Tinsel, Lekki Wives, among others.

Soap operas being one of the media products have become a part and parcel of the lives of so many viewers all around the world. The popularity of this genre is ruling the television industry globally. The term ‘soap’ was gained from its association with the advertising of soap products.  The history of soap opera can be traced back to the 1800s when novels such as Dickens appeared in newspapers in serial formats (Anitha, 2014).

According to Eneh, (2018), there have been concerns about how media has influenced society through the communication of messages and the influences of those messages on the audience.

O’Rork (2006) and Wogu (2008) argue that audiences are more likely to emulate models of behavior seen on the media if they expect to receive gratification from emulating another person. “…Behaviour is influenced not only by personal or live models but by those presented in the mass media”. (O’Rork, 2006:72)

Analyses on media influence continue to show that the media have influence on the lifestyle of audience (Uwakwe, 2010; Okeoma, 2012).

Okunna opines that because of their special power to affect the way people think, feel and behave, the mass media have been credited with incredible persuasive ability to change attitude and behaviour. Therefore, this media influence could be in the area of language and behaviour response.

Ogunmilade (1980), Ezeokoli (1984) have argued in favour of soap opera as a veritable media instrument of achieving social development. They contend that drama does not only set out to entertain or amuse but is also replete with developmental functions. Every work of drama has positive intention, a purpose or message, no matter how it is being coated.

However, many are worried that the producers of television soap opera tend to exaggerate the characters to reflect situations that are alien to societal culture. They argue that viewers expect television drama to reflect their daily lives, making them recognize themselves as actors in the stories. This in turn, is supposed to accord viewers a sense of belonging and also endear them more to watch. This is because television soap opera touches on everyday experiences which are highly recognizable, thereby setting in motion identification and feelings of satisfaction and pleasure; which shapens the lifestyle ofmanyyouths.

It against this backdrop that this study examined the influence of MTV Shuga Naija Soap Opera on the lifestyle of youths: A study of Yaba College of Technology students.

Brief History of MTV Shuga

MTV Sugar Naija, which is also known as MTV Shugais a television drama series that was first aired in November 2009 on MTV Base as part of an initiative dubbed "MTV Staying Alive Ignite!".Its first two seasons was commissioned by MTV Networks Africa in association with The MTV Staying Alive Foundation, PEPFAR (The US President's Emergency Fund for Aids Relief), the Partnership for an HIV-Free Generation (HFG) and the Government of Kenya, as part of a multimedia campaign to spread the message about responsible sexual behaviour and tolerance. It later became a hit and was aired in 40 different African countries before it was aired internationally in over 70 television stations (Staying Alive, 2012). It was thought to be a very controversial series by the senior generation of Kenyans because it contained some scenes that contained sexually explicit content. It bagged a Gold award in May 2010 at the World Media Festival in Hamburg, Germany in the Public Relations Health category for its vivid and uncompromising focus on love, emotions and sexual behavior amongst the Kenyan youth.

In 2013, production of the series was moved to Nigeria, where the third and subsequent seasons are set. Dubbed "Shuga Naija", (Milah, 2013) the new version is a multimedia campaign which educates youths on HIV, safe sex and teen pregnancy (Ochugbua, 2014). It also touches on maternal and child health, family planning, gender-based violence, and women empowerment (Bella Naija, 2014). It was produced in partnership with Nigeria's "National Agency for the Control of AIDS" (NACA) (This Day Newspaper, 2014). The season 3 of the series was broadcasted via 88 television stations across the world, with estimated household viewers of over 550 million.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Over the years, soap operas especially in Nigeria, is seen from the purview of entertainment. Although, this assertion may be true to a large extent, since some scholars (Okeoma, 2012) believe that the mindset around this notion tends to limit the essence of the television content. However, some others (Edet, 2017; Eneh, 2018) are of the view that media contents has potentials to influence lifestyle, especially among youths. As observed in the Nigeria society, it appears that the stakeholders are mainly focusing on soap operas as a form of entertainment. It is therefore, necessary to highlight the influence of Nigerian soap operas on the lifestyle of youths. Also,to highlight the influence of MTV Shuga Naija soap opera has on lifestyle of youths using the students of Yaba College of Technology as a case study.

1.3  Objectives of the study

The main objective of this study is to examine the influence of MTV SHUGA NAIJA Soap Opera on the lifestyle of youths. The specific objectives are:

1.     To determine the extent of viewership of MTV SHUGA NAIJA Soap Opera among students of Yaba College of Technology

2.     To examine the opinions of students of Yaba College of Technology regarding MTV SHUGA NAIJA

3.     To ascertain the level of influence of MTV SHUGA NAIJA Soap Opera on the lifestyle of students of Yaba College of Technology

4.     To know the implications of influence of MTV SHUGA NAIJA Soap Opera on the lifestyle of youths.

1.4 Research Questions

In view of the above objectives, this study would be guided by the following research questions.

1.     What is the extent of viewership of MTV SHUGA NAIJA Soap Opera among students of Yaba College of Technology?

2.     What are the opinions of students of Yaba College of Technology regarding MTV SHUGA NAIJA?

3.     To what level has MTV SHUGA NAIJA Soap Opera influenced the lifestyle of students of Yaba College of Technology?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The significance of this study is to reinforce the use of Soap Opera as a way of sharpening the lifestyle of youths in the society.

This study is also important to stakeholders in TV/entertainment industry as it points out how to improve their contents or tailor their resources towards addressing socio-cultural issues in the society and not focus solely on TV drama as entertainment.

It will also be significant for the producer(s) of MTV Shuga Naija and other producers of similar soap operas.

The study also serves as a reference material to subsequent researches on the influence of Nigeria Soap Operaon the lifestyle of youths.

1.6  Scope of the study

There are many Nigerian Soap Operas which influences the lifestyle of youths in the society. However, this study picks interest in MTV Sugar Naija, which is also known as MTV Shuga. Since the drama series focus more on youths, the study will be restricted to students of Yaba College of Technology, Yaba, Lagos. The study will examine how this drama series influence the students of the institution.

1.7  Operational definition of terms

Influence: This is the extent to which Nigerian soap operas affect the lifestyle of Nigerian youths

MTV Shuga Naija: This is a television drama series that is aired on MTV which focuses on youths.

Soap opera: This is a serial drama on television or radio that features related story lines dealing with lives of multiple characters.

Lifestyle: This is the way in which Nigerian youths live, act or behave Youths: As used in this study means the undergraduate students of Yaba College of Technology.



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