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DNA Linked to Violent Media Consumption in Children

Update Date: Feb 19, 2014 03:52 PM EST

DNA may predispose children for violent media, according to a new study.

Children who spend more time viewing violent television and playing violent video games are more likely to have a specific variation of the serotonin-transporter gene, according to researchers.

The latest study involved survey data of 1,612 parents of Dutch children aged five to nine. Parents were asked how much violent TV programming their children viewed and how often they played violent video games.

Researchers also analyzed children's DNA samples and found that children that had the specific variant of the serotonin-transporter gene on average consumed more violent media and displayed more ADHD-related behaviors.

Previous studies have linked heritability to overall amount of media use. However, these studies did not detail the use of specific media and did not examine specific gene variants.

"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," researcher Sanne Nikkelen of the University of Amsterdam's School of Communication Research said in a news release.

"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. Examining factors that may contribute to the development of these behaviors is essential," Nikkelen added.

The findings are published in the Journal of Communication.

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