Social media, the result of a constantly evolving world, is defined as interactive computer/internet-based technologies, enabling the creation or sharing of information and other forms of expression via virtual communities.
The objectives of this study were to provide students' perspective about social media in medical education and understand its impact on education postpandemic.
Many social media platforms that are available nowadays provide counsel and peer support along with knowledge.
Although social media is a constructivist tool facilitating participative learning, it is often looked down because of its distractions. But with proper use, the effectiveness of traditional methods can be augmented immensely.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS
This was a cross-sectional study done using a semi-structured questionnaire containing a set of open-ended and closed-ended questions related to demography, social media, and medical education. After obtaining clearance for the institutional ethical committee, the questionnaire was then circulated through social media platforms to a random group of medical students from first through final years, interns, and graduates. The study was conducted in the month of December. This study group of medical students of various colleges was selected so as to understand their perception of social media in education. The answers received were then compiled together in MS EXCEL and analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) Software 25.0 (IBM).
A total of 415 responses were received. The majority of the respondents (82.2%) lived in an urban area, and a total of 99.3% of these respondents owned a smartphone [Figure 1]. 39% of the total respondents were final year medical students, 27% were third-year medical students, 11.3% were first-year medical students, 9.2% were second-year medical students, 7.5% were interns, and 6% were graduates [Figure 2].
The majority of the respondents had social media accounts on various platforms. Most of these (89.2%) respondents used their accounts regularly, whereas a few (10.8%) of them used it only in cases of emergency. A total of 66.3% of the respondents mainly used their accounts for entertainment, 15.9% for education, 13.7% for interaction, and 4.1% ended up procrastinating [Figure 3].
The apps used for the above purposes as stated by the students were Instagram (55.7%), YouTube (28.2%), and other applications like Quora, Facebook, Telegram (16.1%) [Figure 3].
For educational purposes, the respondents stated YouTube channels, Wikipedia, Instagram pages, and online teaching platforms as their main sources. In addition to the information available on the internet, the majority of the respondents (89.4%) verified with textbook information, whereas 10.6% solely relied on the information obtained from the internet [Figure 4].
A total of 49.6% agreed that the usage of social media increased, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic [Figure 5]. A total of 80.5% of the students responded that social media played a major role to continue with their academics during this pandemic.
The respondents found video content (57.6%), medical memes (41%), online notes,(31.3%), clinical vignettes (21.2%), live sessions (20.5%), blogs (15.7%), and audio content (7%) highly informative [Figure 6].
A total of 49.2% of the students found social media to be interactive, whereas 45.3% never tried interacting on any platforms. The rest 5.5% of the students perceived social media as dismissive [Figure 7].
A total of 80% of the students believed that books act as a primary source of information and did not wish to replace them with the information obtained on social media [Figure 8]. Few of our respondents (4.1%) were content creators, whereas the majority of them (95.9%) were viewers.
As stated by the students, only 28.7% of their faculty used social media for educational purposes before the pandemic. On the other hand, this usage increased to 49.6% during the pandemic. After the pandemic, 51.8% of the students felt the need for in-class medical teaching and learning methods, whereas 48.2% wanted to continue with online teaching methods. The majority of the students (68.7%) considered social media as a supplementary tool, 7.2% stated that it can replace the traditional ways of learning, whereas the others did not find it useful for their medical education [Figure 9].
The main focus of this study was to provide insights into the students' perspectives about the availability, accessibility, and utility of social media in medical education. A total of 99.3% of the respondents have agreed to own a smartphone, which was similar to another study done in 2017 with a response of 96%.
A study done by Latif et al. found that 85% of their study population had smartphones. Similar was the result of our study (82.2%). A total of 89.2% of our study population owned a social media account similar to those recorded by a previous survey of the US physicians attending Mayo continuing medical education (CME) (89%).
The majority of our respondents (66.3%) used social media for entertainment and found it distracting which was similar to that of a previous study where 82.5% used it for recreational purposes. This was also similar to another study where 66% of students considered their smartphones a distraction.
A previous study concluded that most educators used video streaming in social media for teaching purposes, which possibly explains the results of our study where students (57.6%) found video content highly informative.
Responses in our study indicated that only 28.7% of the faculty used social media as their teaching methods, supported by an older study where very few educators (45%) used social media for teaching.
According to a review article published by Marc Katz, the usage of social media in medical education has tremendously increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is also re-established in our study by 49.6% of the respondents.
The majority of our students (68.7%) considered that social media was a supplementary tool for medical education similar to the results of a previous study by Latif et al. A similar response was also found in the study by Tim Robinson where 84% believed that technology is useful for medical education.
Based on the findings of our study, social media has played a major role in continuing medical education during the pandemic. It has shone a light on the utility of social media but further research and exploration are needed for the benefit of medical education.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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