Choice key to understanding gene-environment correlation, says study

| Updated: Jan 25, 2017 01:04 IST

Washington D.C. [USA] Jan 24. (ANI): Do you use online media for conveying things on social media? Do you use online media for gaming? Then the usage of your online media could be influenced by your genes. According to a new study, the usage of online media plays a very important role in the development and experience of people among all age groups. Nonetheless, people differ substantially in their use of online media and researchers are interested in finding out why people differ so much. The story got published in PLOS ONE. This study saw the use of online media in more than 8,500 16 year-old-twins. By comparing non-identical twins and non-identical twins, the researchers were able to find out the contribution of genes and environment on individual differences in engagement with online media such as games for entertainment or the time spent on Facebook. Heritability was substantial for time spent on all types of media including entertainment (37 per cent) and educational (34 per cent) media, online gaming (39 per cent) and social networking (24 per cent). Heritability describes the degree to which differences between children - in this case their use of online media - can be attributed to inherited genetic factors, rather than the effects of their environment. One more additional factor was the unique environmental factors accounted for nearly two-third of the differences between people in using the online media. "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," said Ziada Ayorech. But these results also raise some doubts about to which extent social media exposes us to the information that people are willing to support but curbing the information which tells conflicting arguments about that same information we supported. "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." said Professor Robert Plomin. However, Professor Plomin also states that individual differences would still play a significant role here. (ANI)