Background: Facebook, a popular social networking site, has been used by people of different ages and professions for various purposes. Its use in the field of medical education is increasing dramatically. At the same time, the pros and cons of facebook use among the health science students has attracted the attention of educators. The data regarding its use and the effect on the life of Nepalese health science students has not yet been documented. Therefore, this study is carried out to evaluate the effect of facebook use on social interactions, behaviour, academics, and the health of students in a medical college of Nepal.
Results: A cross-sectional descriptive study conducted among medical, dental, nursing and allied health science students using self-administered questionnaire. The study showed that 98.2 % of participants were facebook users. Among 452 respondents, 224 and 228 were male and female respectively, with a mean age of 20.2 ± 1.2 years. The main reason for using facebook was to remain in contact with family and friend (32 %), while its use for the academic purpose was only 5 %. However, 80.8 % of students acknowledged ease in acquiring academic materials from others, through facebook. One-fourth of the students acknowledged that they are using facebook late at night on a regular basis, while surprisingly 4.2 % of the students admitted accessing facebook during the classroom lectures. Almost two-third of the users, further admitted that facebook has had a negative impact on their studies. Burning eyes (21 %), disturbed sleep (19 %), and headache (16 %) were the most common adverse health effects reported by the facebook users. Many students (71.4 %) tried and most of them (68.7 %) succeeded, in reducing time spent on facebook, to allow for increased time devoted to their studies.
Conclusion: The widespread use of facebook among the health science students, was found to have both positive and negative effects on their academics, social life, and health.
Keywords: Academic; Adverse health effects; Family and friend; Social networking site.