The term “digital and social networking” refers to internet-based applications that allow the production and sharing of user-generated content, as well as the related digital technology used to facilitate this development and exchange. DSM is evident in a variety of networking modes through social network channels (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram), instant message applications (e.g., WhatsApp, WeChat), and video conferencing services (e.g., Zoom, MS Teams), all accessible from users’ mobile or computer devices. The estimated global DSM consumer base of 3.8 billion suggests that DSM is having a growing effect on the general population’s private and professional lives. This has extended to dental students and professionals, with up to 98 percent of dental students and 75% of dental professionals reporting that they used DSM for professional and personal purposes, such as communication (with friends and family), professional education (teaching and learning dentistry), or advertising dental practices (promoting oral health care and marketing dental services). According to the literature, all consumer classes have highlighted potential dangers associated with DSM use. Perceived risks can be described as the possibility of experiencing a failure, injury, or insecurity as a result of using DSM services. Previous research in the field of general internet content has used this term to assess and mitigate the danger involved with the usage of information technology and social networking to increase the general population’s uptake of its services. Dental practitioners in academic and clinical environments have a professional image to protect and procedural standards to adhere to, since they have earned society’s confidence. Concerns regarding medical confidentiality and conformity with applicable legislation and ethical requirements can often impede DSM adoption in the professional setting. Despite the current discussion about the utility of DSM in dentistry, there have been little attempts to characterize the dangers associated with DSM use in different ways, both in terms of general use and how use particular to dental education and practice influences DSM uptake. Additionally, while this body of information about dental students’ and professionals’ enforcement is critical, there are a number of other general and technical dangers that should be addressed and discussed. Furthermore, without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed enormous challenges to dental education worldwide, precipitating an abrupt shift toward the implementation of online technology, like DSM. As a result, defining risk perceptions correlated with the application of certain technology is reasonable and warranted. The aim of this analysis was to define risk factors associated with the use of DSM in order to gain insight into the inherent consequences for dental professionals in practice and for the education of trainee professionals.
This thesis examined the essential hazards of DSM that affect dental students’ and professionals’ use of DSM in a way that has not been done previously. Additionally, the mix of potential threats in the established context depicted in the figure is novel and offers a rare opportunity for dental school policymakers to broaden their lens about risks to dental students and practitioners that are distinct from those historically defined by public users. Dental educators will learn from this study’s results, which may be seen as a starting point for advancing DSM use by dental students and practitioners, with the help of established regulatory bodies for social networking. Finally, dental students and practitioners must exercise greater caution when using DSM to avoid tarnishing the profession’s reputation and eroding public confidence. They need education and assurance on how to mitigate these threats and develop a better understanding of how they will expand opportunities for information sharing, advancement of ideas, and interaction with the public, including their patients.