The Use of Smartphones in Different Phases of Medical School and its Relationship to Internet Addiction and Learning Approaches (2018)

J Med Syst. 2018 Apr 26;42(6):106. doi: 10.1007/s10916-018-0958-x.

Loredo E Silva MP1, de Souza Matos BD1, da Silva Ezequiel O1, Lucchetti ALG1, Lucchetti G2.


The use of smartphones is revolutionizing the way information is acquired, leading to profound modifications in teaching medicine. Nevertheless, inadvertent use can negatively affect student learning. The present study aims to evaluate smartphone use in the educational context as well as Internet addiction and its repercussions on surface and deep learning and to compare them during the different phases of medical students’ education. This is a cross-sectional study involving medical students in all phases of education. Sociodemographic data, type and frequency of smartphone use, degree of digital addiction (Internet Addiction Test – IAT), and surface and deep approaches to learning (Biggs) were analyzed. A total of 710 students were included. Almost all students had a smartphone and a total of 96.8% used it during lectures, classes, and meetings. Less than half of the students (47.3%) reported using a smartphone for more than 10 min for educational purposes, a usage that is higher among clerkship students. At least 95% reported using a smartphone in the classroom for activities not related to medicine (social media and searching for general information) and 68.2% were considered problematic Internet users according to the IAT. The most common reasons for noneducational use were that the class was uninteresting, students needed to receive or make an important call, and the educational strategy was not stimulating. The “frequency of smartphone use” and higher “internet addiction” were correlated to both higher levels of surface learning and lower levels of deep learning. Educators should advise and educate their students about conscientious use of this tool to avoid detrimental impact on the learning process.

KEYWORDS: Applications (apps); Digital addiction; Medical students; Mobile devices

PMID: 29700626

DOI: 10.1007/s10916-018-0958-x