Genetics linked to children viewing high amounts of violent media

February 19, 2014

The lifelong debate of nature versus nurture continues—this time in what your children watch. A recent paper published in the Journal of Communication found that a specific variation of the serotonin-transporter gene was linked to children who engaged in increased viewing of violent TV and playing of violent video games.

Sanne Nikkelen, Helen Vossen, and Patti Valkenburg of the University of Amsterdam's School of Communication Research, in collaboration with researchers at the Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, analyzed 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 . DNA samples collected at the children's birth were then analyzed 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 and displayed more ADHD-related behaviors. However, these links are subtle and more factors can influence these behaviors 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. There have been earlier studies looking at whether violent media use is related to ADHD-related behaviors, but these have found mixed results.

"Our results indicate that children's violent media use is partly influenced by genetic factors. This could mean that children with this are more likely to seek out stimulating activities, such as violent television viewing and video game playing," said Nikkelen. "It is important to study the relationship between media use and ADHD-related behaviors because 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."

Explore further: Researchers examine media impact in multiple countries

More information: "Media Violence and Children's ADHD-Related Behaviors: A Genetic Susceptibility Perspective'" by Sanne Nikkelen, Helen Vossen, Patti Valkenburg, Fleur Velders, Dafna Windhorst, Vincent Jaddoe, Albert Hofman, Frank Verhulst, & Henning Tiemeier, Journal of Communication, Volume 64 No. 1, pgs. 42-60, 2014 DOI: 10.1111/jcom.12073

Related Stories

Researchers examine media impact in multiple countries

December 12, 2013
A cross-cultural study, led by Iowa State University researchers, shows prosocial media and video games positively influence behavior regardless of culture. The study, a first-of-its-kind, tested levels of empathy and helpfulness ...

Violent video games delay the development of moral judgement in teens

February 5, 2014
Mirjana Bajovic of Brock University set out to discover whether there was a link between the types of video games teens played, how long they played them, and the teens' levels of moral reasoning: their ability to take ...

Study finds racial and ethnic disparities in ADHD diagnosis

February 18, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Black children and children in homes where a language other than English is spoken are less likely to receive an attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis by school entry, despite being ...

Video games do not make vulnerable teens more violent, study says

August 26, 2013
Do violent video games such as 'Mortal Kombat,' 'Halo' and 'Grand Theft Auto' trigger teenagers with symptoms of depression or attention deficit disorder to become aggressive bullies or delinquents? No, according to Christopher ...

What's the psychological effect of violent video games on children?

June 29, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- This week, the United States Supreme Court overturned a California law banning the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. But can a child’s behavior be directly influenced by playing a violent ...

Recommended for you

Many kinds of happiness promote better health, study finds

July 21, 2017
A new study links the capacity to feel a variety of upbeat emotions to better health.

Study examines effects of stopping psychiatric medication

July 20, 2017
Despite numerous obstacles and severe withdrawal effects, long-term users of psychiatric drugs can stop taking them if they choose, and mental health care professionals could be more helpful to such individuals, according ...

Study finds gene variant increases risk for depression

July 20, 2017
A University of Central Florida study has found that a gene variant, thought to be carried by nearly 25 percent of the population, increases the odds of developing depression.

In making decisions, are you an ant or a grasshopper?

July 20, 2017
In one of Aesop's famous fables, we are introduced to the grasshopper and the ant, whose decisions about how to spend their time affect their lives and future. The jovial grasshopper has a blast all summer singing and playing, ...

Perceiving oneself as less physically active than peers is linked to a shorter lifespan

July 20, 2017
Would you say that you are physically more active, less active, or about equally active as other people your age?

Old antibiotic could form new depression treatment

July 19, 2017
An antibiotic used mostly to treat acne has been found to improve the quality of life for people with major depression, in a world-first clinical trial conducted at Deakin University.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.