A new study shows that genes influence if we would be fond of social networking and gaming. Researchers from King’s College London have published their findings in PLOS ONE.
“Our findings contradict popular media effects theories, which typically view the media as an external entity that has some effect — either good or bad — on ‘helpless’ consumers. Finding that DNA differences substantially influence how individuals interact with the media puts the consumer in the driver’s seat, selecting and modifying their media exposure according to their needs,” explains the study’s first author, Ziada Ayorech of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, according to Science Daily.
The study involved analyzing the social media use of 8,500 16-year-old twins. The researchers found that the genes affect the participant’s time spent in using all types of media, which include entertainment (37 percent), educational (34 percent) media and online gaming (39 percent). For social networking, gene’s influence was 24 percent.
The researchers also found that environmental factors can also play a role in this subject. Having access to media naturally influenced more media use. The findings indicate that people’s online media use is dictated by their genes. This also shows that people are not passively exposed to media.
“The key component of this gene-environment correlation is choice, such that individuals are not simply passive recipients of their environment but instead actively select their experiences and these selections are correlated with their genetic propensities,” says study senior author Robert Plomin from the IoPPN at King’s College London.
Another study found that having too many social media accounts can increase one’s risk of developing depression. Researcher Brian A. Primack said: “This association is strong enough that clinicians could consider asking their patients with depression and anxiety about multiple platform use and counseling them that this use may be related to their symptoms.”