Social Media Use by Medical Students

Social software or the use of Internet (Web 2.0) for generating your own content, to connect with one another and to share and manage content with each other is used by young people. How do first year medical students use this social software? This could be important because these networks could become networks of learners as soon as we’re able to create useful applications.

  • over 90% of med students use instant messaging, 94% of females aND 93% of males
  • 70% used social networking sites (facebook, twitter, myspace)
  • 20% read blogs
  • 8% write their own blog
  • 20% of male medical students contributed to wikis and used media sharing sites such as flickr and youtube
  • social bookmarking was hardly used (, digg)

How was this study done?

all first year medical students (n=212) at the University of Leeds completed a paper based self-administered questionnaire at the time of their information skills (IT) assessment.

Overall males were more engaged in social media. The use of these media has increased over the years. In previous research in 2006 80% of students used instant messaging, 24% used social networks, 31% shared photos, blogs were read by 38% and 21% wrote a blog. A survey in 2006 at the University of Oxford showed the high use of instant messaging (82%) and social networking (60%), 58% read blogs, 38% wrote their own blog, 19% used flickr, 57% used YouTube and 19% used

Students preferred the use of social software above the virtual learning environment provided by the institution.

Why is this important?
Educators are mostly digital immigrants whereas the student is a digital native. Educators should recognize the potential of social software without entering the networks of students. As the authors importantly state

The social networking sites have exciting potential for medical education but only if the educator can resist the temptation to meddle in what the students are doing.

Next the authors suggest some examples on how social networking could be used for education, but several examples are present on the net.
Sandars, J., Homer, M., Pell, G., & Crocker, T. (2010). Web 2.0 and social software: the medical student way of e-learning Medical Teacher, 2147483647-5 DOI: 10.3109/01421590701798729