Understanding Veterinary Students' Use of and Attitudes toward the Social Networking Site, Facebook, to Assist in Developing Curricula to Address Online Professionalism.
Social media is an increasingly common form of communication, with Facebook being the preferred social-networking site among post-secondary students. Numerous studies suggest post-secondary students practice high self-disclosure on Facebook. Research evaluating veterinary students' use of social media found a notable proportion of student-posted content deemed inappropriate. Lack of discretion in posting content can have significant repercussions for aspiring veterinary professionals, their college of study, and the veterinary profession they represent. Veterinarians-in-training at three veterinary colleges across Canada were surveyed to explore their use of and attitude toward the social networking site, Facebook. Students were invited to complete an online survey with questions relating to their knowledge of privacy in relation to using Facebook, their views on the acceptability of posting certain types of information, and their level of professional accountability online. Linear regression modeling was used to further examine factors related to veterinary students' disclosure of personal information on Facebook. Need for popularity (p<.01) and awareness of consequences (p<.001) were found to be positively and negatively associated, respectively, with students' personal disclosure of information on Facebook. Understanding veterinary students' use of and attitudes toward social media, such as Facebook, reveals a need, and provides a basis, for developing educational programs to address online professionalism. Educators and administrators at veterinary schools may use this information to assist in developing veterinary curricula that addresses the escalating issue of online professionalism.