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TMCNet:  Some kids genetically prone to watch more violent TV, scientists say

[February 19, 2014]

Some kids genetically prone to watch more violent TV, scientists say

(UPI Science News Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Lack of supervision and access to violent entertainment aren't the only reasons why some kids consume more violent media -- television shows and video games -- than others. A gene variation that affects serotonin transportation also plays a role, scientists say.


Dutch researchers at the University of Amsterdam's School of Communication and Research Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam first analyzed media consumption survey data provided by the parents of 1,612 children ages 5-9. Next, they collected DNA samples and looked for correlations.

They found that a certain variation of the serotonin-transporter gene was linked with a higher rate of violent TV viewing and violent video game playing.

"Our results indicate that children's violent media use is partly influenced by genetic factors," said researcher Sanne Nikkelen. "This could mean that children with this gene variant are more likely to seek out stimulating activities, such as violent television viewing and video game playing." The researchers acknowledged that genetics are never operating in isolation, but are simply one component of a range of biological and environmental factors that effect human behaviors -- like levels of violent media consumption.

Previous research has shown that the overall amount of media consumption is influenced by genetics. But this study is one of the first to look at specific gene variations and how they relate to certain kinds of media consumption. The research is part of a larger effort to draw connections between hereditary traits, violent media, and ADHD-related behaviors.

Conclusive results in this broader quest have been limited. Still, researchers were encouraged by their findings.

"It is important to study the relationship between media use and ADHD-related behaviors because children who show increased ADHD-related behaviors often face peer and academic difficulties and are at increased risk for substance abuse," explained Nikkelen. "Examining factors that may contribute to the development of these behaviors is essential." Details of the study were recently published in the Journal of Communication.

[Journal of Communication] Copyright 2014 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.

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