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Table of Contents   
EPIDEMIOLOGICAL WORK  
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 798-802
Knowledge and attitude toward use of internet in smartphones for dental education


1 Department of Periodontics, Sri Venkateswara Dental College and Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of CRRI, Sri Venkateswara Dental College and Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
3 Department of 3rd Year Student, Sri Venkateswara Dental College and Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
4 Department of Oral Pathology, Sri Venkateswara Dental College and Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
5 Department of Orthodontics, Sri Venkateswara Dental College and Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
6 Department of Periodontics, SRM Dental College, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

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Date of Submission11-Jul-2017
Date of Decision17-Aug-2017
Date of Acceptance05-Nov-2017
Date of Web Publication18-Dec-2019
 

   Abstract 


Introduction: Internet has become ubiquitous with the advent of smartphones. The dental fraternity keeps themselves updated and share knowledge through webinars, video conferences, research publications, etc. Hence, the internet serves as an imperative tool for dissemination of information. The usage of internet in dental education can be exploited to the fullest, especially due to the increased ownership rates of smartphones. Materials and Methods: A total of 490 students from four dental colleges in Tamil Nadu were asked to fill a close-ended questionnaire to assess the knowledge and attitude of dental students toward internet usage in smartphones. This study was conducted from November 2016 to January 2017. Results: The response rate was 100%. Almost all the students (98%) had knowledge on browsing. The percentage of internet use in smartphones were the highest (55.2%) followed by computers or laptops at home (26.5%). About 34.6% of students used internet in smartphones daily. More than half of the students (52.2%) used internet in smartphone at least 2–3 h a day. About one quarter (23.4%) of students used internet on a daily basis while 29.59% of students accessed the internet thrice a week for searching content related to dentistry. The preferred source for collecting dental-related information was through the internet (28.9%) and textbooks (28.5%). Conclusion: Dental students have considerable knowledge in using the internet for dental education and some of them utilize internet more frequently because of the possession of smartphones.

Keywords: Dental undergraduates, dentistry, education, internet, smartphones, technology

How to cite this article:
Priya SR, Padminee K, Deboral R, Sujatha G, Ramasamy M, Kumar PY. Knowledge and attitude toward use of internet in smartphones for dental education. Indian J Dent Res 2019;30:798-802

How to cite this URL:
Priya SR, Padminee K, Deboral R, Sujatha G, Ramasamy M, Kumar PY. Knowledge and attitude toward use of internet in smartphones for dental education. Indian J Dent Res [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Aug 5];30:798-802. Available from: http://www.ijdr.in/text.asp?2019/30/5/798/273423



   Introduction Top


A dynamic field such as dental science warrants continuing education and knowledge on current trends. The dental fraternity keeps themselves updated and share knowledge through webinars, video conferences, research publications, etc. The internet thus serves as an imperative tool for dissemination of information.[1] Knowledge on internet usage among undergraduate dental students becomes all the more necessary to keep pace with advancing technology and enrich themselves about the progress in dental science. With the advent of smartphones, internet is just one swipe away. Smartphones are nothing but cell phones with internet and apps. The internet is becoming ubiquitous as its usage pervades through commerce, culture, social interactions, politics, and daily life. The smartphone ownership rates and internet usage percentages show steep escalations in the last few years and are more gravitated toward the millennial generation.[2]

Owning a smartphone makes internet access faster, easier, and economical. Smartphones can be carried along with ease, making internet access available at all times of the day. The smartphones also harbor social networking apps such as Facebook, Whatsapp, and others, all of which can serve as educational portals selectively. The study groups can be created and case reports can be shared through these social networking apps present in smartphones. The prime advantage is that instant messaging is possible with the internet in smartphones.[3] Furthermore, social media can bridge the gap between geographically diverse and dispersed student populations and provide them access to uniform information gleaned from various sources.[4] Social networking using smartphones enable communication and collaboration outside the classrooms, improve creativity, and enhance connectivity to tether students with experts in different specialties.[5] Exploiting this internet access for educational purposes will be beneficial for the dental students. A seismic shift is seen in dentistry toward evidence-based clinical practice. Furthermore, increasing importance is given for research among undergraduate dental students. Search engines such as PubMed, Cochrane database, MEDLINE, and journals which provide free online access are available to provide content of scientific and clinical interest.[6],[7] All these require knowledge in using the internet.

Although the smartphone can act as an edifying device, students still prefer to use them for personal and social activities.[8] Understanding the perception of students on usage of internet in smartphones, therefore, becomes necessary to precisely channelize them to make use of this abundantly available potential educational tool. Hence, there is a need to assess the knowledge and attitude on internet usage in smartphones among dental students to guide them to adopt the technological evolution. Studies done in the past have explored the knowledge and attitude on internet, computer usage, and information technology among dental students.[1],[9],[10],[11],[12],[13],[14] However, there is scarcity in literature on knowledge and attitude based studies about internet usage in smartphones among dental students. Thus, the aim of the present study is to understand the knowledge dental students have on using internet in smartphones and to what extent they use the facility for academic needs. This study also gathers information on the dental students' attitude toward usage of internet in smartphone for dental education.


   Materials and Methods Top


This study was designed as a multiple choice questionnaire-based cross-sectional survey to assess the knowledge and attitude toward internet usage in smartphones among dental students from four dental colleges in Tamil Nadu. This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the college. The study sample consisted of undergraduate dental students from 1st year to 4th year and Compulsory Rotary Residential Internship (CRRI) students from four dental colleges. Convenience sampling method was employed for sample selection, and the sample size was estimated from the previous studies. A total of 490 students participated in the study voluntarily. Participation was anonymous. This study was conducted from November 2016 to January 2017. Students who were absent during this 3-month period were excluded from the study.

A close-ended questionnaire with 28 multiple choice questions was developed under three subdivisions. The questionnaire was constructed in English language. Out of the 28 questions prepared, 12 questions were regarding internet usage for general purpose, 12 questions were concerning internet use for academics, remaining 4 were toward gadget use, amount of time and money spent over the internet. The questionnaire had provision for filling the demographics which included the gender and age of the participant and the year of study. Validation of the questionnaire was done before carrying out the study. This was done by conducting a pilot study, wherein the questionnaire was distributed to five students from each group (1st year to CRRI). The questionnaire print outs were then distributed to the participants in their respective classrooms after elaborating the purpose of the study. The students were given 10 min of time to fill the questionnaire. The students completed the survey under the supervision of calibrated investigators. The data collected were then tabulated using Microsoft Excel 2007 and percentages were obtained.


   Results Top


A total of 490 participants participated. The response and completion rates were 100%. More students participated from the 4th year (23%) and minimum participation was seen in the 1st years (16%). The participation of female students (52%) was marginally more than that of males (47.9%).

[Table 1] shows the response percentage of details assessing knowledge and attitude of students toward internet usage in smartphones. The percentage of internet use in smartphones is highest (55.2%) followed by computers or laptops at home (26.5%). The rest of the other sources of internet access accounts to <10%. Almost all of the students (97.9%) have knowledge on surfing the internet. About 34.6% of students use the internet in smartphones daily. More than half of the students (52.2%) use internet in smartphone at least 2–3 h a day. All the students use the internet in smartphone for both academic and personal reasons.
Table 1: Knowledge and attitude on internet usage in smartphone

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[Table 2] shows the response percentage of details assessing knowledge and attitude of students toward internet usage for dental education. About 23.4% of students use internet on a daily basis, whereas 29.5% of students access the internet thrice a week for searching content related to dentistry. About half of the students (53%) search for textual content, 7.1% for dental radiographs, 10.2% for histological slides, and 22.4% for clinical pictures related to dentistry in the internet. The frequently used search engine or databases for exploring scientific information include Google (60.2%) followed by Wikipedia (28.5%). The other databases such as the PubMed, MEDLINE, and Cochrane Database are accessed by very few students. A significant number of students (84.4%) have awareness on the concept of evidence-based dentistry. The preferred source for collecting dental-related information is the internet (28.9%), and the textbooks (28.5%) very closely followed by lecture handouts (27.5%) and handwritten notes (14.8%). The reason for preferring internet over other sources is the quick (30.6%) and easy access (30.6%) to internet. About 26.5% of students vote for preferring internet to other sources because of the recent updates and latest information that can be acquired through the internet platform.
Table 2: Knowledge and attitude on internet use for dental purpose

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   Discussion Top


Internet usage has skyrocketed in India, and the predominant reason for this is the burgeoning smartphone shipment into the nation. With increasing smartphone penetration, data costs have plummeted leading to unmitigated internet use across the country.[15] With increasing availability of smartphone having internet facility in the country, the students tend to use them for a myriad of reasons apart from academic purpose.[8] Smartphones in dental education have multitude applications starting from e-learning to maintaining patient health records.[16] Internet service in smartphones are readily available all the time since the devices are portable; and hence, dental students can utilize them for accessing scientific content, discussing cases, learning dental concepts from videos, etc.[17],[18],[19] The millennial generation is considered to be the tech-savvy, and yet internet usage for educational benefits still remains a conundrum. Hence, it is of the essence to understand the knowledge and attitude of dental students toward internet usage in smartphones. Studies about the same have been carried out in different regions, and studies in India are few.[10],[11],[14] Since the perception, attitudes, and knowledge can vary among individuals, research at the inception level is required. Therefore, the present study has been conducted to understand the knowledge and attitude on internet usage among students from four private dental colleges. The use of internet in smartphones has become popular among dental students which are very evident from the results of this study. Almost all the students enrolled in this study have significant knowledge on browsing the internet. Furthermore, the results of the study also revealed that the students have poor knowledge on accessing databases such as PubMed which is worrisome.

Among the dental undergraduates, more number of final year students accesses the internet than the junior class students. This result is in accordance with the studies of Kumar et al.[10] and Jali et al.[14] Project works and seminars are more for the students in the clinical years; and hence, the internet usage could be more among these students. According to the results of the current study, all the students access the internet for both personal and academic reasons. This is in opposition to the Udaipur, India, study results which reveal only 44.5% of students use internet for the general and dental purpose.[10] The probable reason for this difference could be that the Udaipur study was conducted a decade ago when internet usage for general purpose such as social networking would have been far more less than what it is today. More than half (55.2%) of the students prefer to access the internet from their smartphones. Almost all (97.9%) the dental students have knowledge on browsing. This percentage is greater than that seen in Rajasthan (92.9%), Malaysia (67%), Nigeria (61%), and UK (53%) studies.[14],[20],[21],[22] About one-third (34.6%) of students use the smartphone internet facility almost daily out of which 52.2% of them use it for 2–3 h/day. According to the study done by Jali et al.[14] in Rajasthan, 34% of the students used the internet on a daily basis which is in harmony with the results of the current study. The results of the present study also expose that 15% of students use the internet twice or thrice a day, 12% use it once a week, and 11% of them access the web once a month. These results are entirely different from those obtained in Britain and Yazd studies where about 83% of the students used internet only once a month.[9],[22] The growing trend of smartphone internet use among undergraduate dental students can be well appreciated from the results of the present study.

Smartphone internet facility is used by almost all the students for dental purpose as per the results of the current study. Majority of the students (29.6%) tend to utilize this facility for searching dental-related content thrice a week while about 23% of the students use those on a daily basis. About 17% of the students use it once a week or once a month while 12% of them use it very rarely for academic purpose. These percentages are far better than that obtained in Turkey studies where a majority of students (40%) used the internet for dental reasons only once a month, and 20% of the students used it once a week.[12] The material searched in the internet related to dentistry is most often textual content (53%) followed by clinical case records, histopathological slides, and radiographs. This is in congruence with the result obtained by Kumar et al.[10] and Ayatollahi et al.[9] This study of Marya et al.[11] is however in direct disagreement with the above finding. The results of her study implicate that most of the students access the web for clinical, histological, or radiographical pictures and not textual content.

The results of the current study show that the most preferred search engine or database for exploring dental-related content is Google (60.2%) followed by Wikipedia (28.5%) and the knowledge on using PubMed is very low as only 4% of the students use it. Hamissi et al.[23] and Jali et al.[14] in their studies agree Google to be a frequently used search engine; but 54.6% and 10.3% of the students, respectively, also had knowledge on accessing the PubMed database. Inadequate exposure to the available databases and the improper guidance could be the reason for lack of knowledge on PubMed among the subjects in the current study. Students prefer the internet, lecture handouts and the textbooks equally for learning concepts in dentistry. Handwritten notes are the least preferred. The results vary widely from the study of Jali et al.[14] where 48% of the students opted for internet as the first preference followed by textbooks (16%). Students who prefer the internet to textbooks use the internet as it is quick, easily accessible and they believe that the web always provide updated contents. About 469 of 490 students who participated in the study strongly agree that internet has a positive impact on dental education.

It is wise to utilize a facility already available rather than looking for new technological aids for improving the quality of education. Internet is becoming omnipresent with the introduction and increasing ownership of smartphones. Knowledge on the usage of the internet among dental students is significant and considerable. However, the students should be guided and directed to utilize this for educational needs. Hence, the usage of internet in smartphones can be encouraged in the lines of academic interest for the dental undergraduates. Introducing dental students to dental-related search engines, imparting knowledge on using appropriate keywords for search, teaching them to evaluate the weightage of an article available online, etc., becomes the need of the hour. The fact that dental students are unaware or unfamiliar with PubMed is a concern. Published health-related literature is the key driver of evidence-based practice which should be driving clinical treatment decisions. This could be an avenue for the improvement of the curriculum of dental schools surveyed in this study. Furthermore, educational institutions can also utilize this facility by providing authentic scientific contents relevant to the prescribed dental syllabus in their websites which would prevent students from accessing wrong information. The present study has been conducted to understand the knowledge and attitude on internet usage only among students from four private dental colleges, and hence, conclusions cannot be generalized. Therefore, students from private and government dental colleges have to be included to entirely understand their perceptions. Hence, the future studies are obligated to expand the quality of the sample to accurately comprehend the discernment of the dental students toward using smartphones with internet facility for dental education.


   Conclusion Top


Within the confinements of the current study, it can be concluded that dental students who participated in this survey have considerable knowledge in using the internet for dental education and some of them utilize internet more frequently because of the possession of smartphones. A proper guidance is required to orient the students for maximally benefitting from this technology. Internet cannot completely replace textbooks or teachers, but they can serve as excellent adjunct educational tools if utilized properly.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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Correspondence Address:
Dr. Shanmuga R Priya
Department of Periodontics, Sri Venkateswara Dental College and Hospital, Off OMR Road, Thalambur, Kanchipuram, Chennai - 603 130, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijdr.IJDR_386_17

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