Facebook and Twitter are the most-used sites with millions of daily users, of which some are so addicted to them that they find it impossible to look away. While the general belief would be that they have weak willpower, in reality, it is because of their genes, claim researchers.
Blame DNA for Facebook addiction
This claim is not very surprising. In a research paper published in PLOS One on Monday, researchers explain that it has already been seen that genetic influences play a role in almost all psychological traits. For this reason, it makes utmost sense that the time users spend on their computers is very influenced by our genes, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Genetic differences have been found to be responsible for roughly one-quarter to one-third of individual differences in the amount of time they spend on various websites such as educational sites, entertainment-related sites or Facebook, the study indicates.
A research team from King’s College London looked at the online media usage of more than 8,500 teenage twins from the Twins Early Development Study in the U.K. and Wales. The study had some identical twins, which means that they share 100% of their genetic information, while others were fraternal, which means they share about 50% of their genes like other siblings do.
The two types of twins were asked about the amount of time they spent on Facebook, online gaming and educational and entertainment sites. Researchers then compared their responses and made an estimate on the role one’s genes play in online media usage.
Findings contradict popular media effects theories
It was found that genetics have slightly less influence on their Facebook use. Heritability was responsible for about 24% of the time kids spent on the social network, 37% on websites for entertainment, 34% for educational purposes and 39% for playing online games.
“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,” said Ziada Ayorech, lead researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London.
Ayorech added that their findings were contradictory to the popular media effects theories that typically viewed the media as an external entity that affects (in a good or bad way) consumers.
The latest figures from Ofcom show that on average, youngsters aged between 5 and 15 spend about 15 hours each week online. This overtakes the amount of time they spend watching TV.