Gene to blame for kids watching violence on TV

Gene to blame for kids watching violence on TV

Ever wondered why certain kids like violent TV and video games more than others? Scientists say they were just born that way!

A specific variation of the serotonin-transporter gene is linked to children who engage in increased viewing of violent TV and playing of violent video games, a new study has found.

Researchers analysed survey data of 1,612 parents of Dutch children ages 5-9.The parents noted how much violent TV programming their children viewed, as well as how often they played violent video games.

DNA samples collected at the children's birth were then analysed to determine a certain gene variant.

The researchers found that children that had the specific variant of the serotonin-transporter gene on average consumed more violent media and displayed more ADHD-related behaviours.

However, these links are subtle and more factors can influence these behaviours in children.

Earlier studies have shown that overall amount of media use is partly heritable. These studies, however, did not examine the use of specific media content and did not examine specific gene variants, but only looked at heritability.

This study is the first to specifically examine violent media content and to examine a specific gene variant.

"Our results indicate that children's violent media use is partly influenced by genetic factors. 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," said Sanne Nikkelen from the University of Amsterdam's School of Communication Research.

"It is important to study the relationship between media use and ADHD-related behaviours because children who show increased ADHD-related behaviours often face peer and academic difficulties and are at increased risk for substance abuse. Examining factors that may contribute to the development of these behaviours is essential," Nikkelen said.

The study was published in the Journal of Communication.

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