Purpose of Study:This study was conducted within the scope of a qualitative and quantitative study pattern in order to determine nursing students’ perceptions of the Internet through metaphors and the variables affecting such metaphors.
Method: The study sampling included all undergraduate students (575 individuals) attending a nursing school during the 2009-2010 spring semester. The entire population was targeted in the study; 500 students volunteered to participate, and 87.0% of the population was reached. The data were collected using an information form consisting of 9 questions identifying the socio-demographic attributes and Internet use habits of the students, and each student was asked to complete the sentence "Internet is like............because................." in order to determine their perceptions relating to the concept of the Internet. The data were analysed using qualitative (content analysis) and quantitative (frequency, chi-square) data analysis methods.
Findings: It was found that 25.5% of the nursing students were freshmen, 24.9% were juniors, 26.5% were sophomores, and 23.1% were seniors; 85.7% were female and 14.3% were male; and their average age was 21.32±1.89%. The nursing students produced 204 valid metaphors in relation to the concept of the Internet. The top 3 metaphors were library (n: 51, 10.2%), world (n: 32, 6.4%), and book (n: 17, 3.4%). The metaphors produced by the nursing students in relation to the concept of the Internet were collected under 10 conceptual categories in terms of their common properties. With regard to the perceptions of the nursing students relating to the concept of the Internet, the predominant categories were "the Internet as a source of information" (133 students, 51 metaphors), "the Internet as a harmful tool" (109 students, 44 metaphors), "the Internet both as useful and harmful" (74 students, 56 metaphors), and "the Internet as a comprehensive tool" (91 students, 50 metaphors). It was also found that the conceptual categories did not show any difference according to the grades of the nursing students, the secondary school they graduated from, their Internet use habits, their primary purpose of using the Internet, and the place from where they connected to the Internet (p > 0.05).
Conclusions and Recommendations:Results showed that a majority of the nursing students perceived the Internet as a source of information but stated that it should be used consciously. In line with these findings, metaphors can be used as a powerful study tool in determining, understanding, and explaining personal perceptions and mental images in relation with the Internet.
Keywords: Metaphor, perception, mental image, Internet, nursing student, nursing