New research shows genetics outweigh environmental factors in determining someone’s social media use
Can’t stop checking Facebook, posting on Snapchat and drooling over Instagram? You probably get it from your parents.
A recent study suggests that a person’s genetic makeup determines their social media use more than environmental factors like whether they were raised with screens or influenced by their friends.
Dr. Chance York at Kent State University compared the survey responses between sets of fraternal and identical twins; a scientific approach often used to determine how things such as political views are influenced by heredity. And he found that while both types of twins shared similar social media habits, the correlation was stronger in the identical twins. (Just to brush up on our high school biology: fraternal twins are formed from two separate fertilized eggs and share 50% of genetic material, while identical twins come from one fertilized egg that split into two separate embryos and share 100% of their genetic material.)
In fact, Dr. York’s analysis found that about two-thirds of a person’s social media habits can be linked to genetic traits, while only one-third is determined by environmental factors.
But that doesn’t mean you’re born with the compulsive need to check Facebook every 10 minutes.
“There is no ‘social media gene,'” Dr. York wrote.
Rather, there’s probably a gene or set of genes that influence things like your sociability and whether you’re more introverted or extroverted, which would influence whether you’re seeking social media.
“There’s not a specific gene that tells you how to use social media, but genes do indirectly influence personality traits that might, in turn, impact media selection and behavior,” he added.
He will be presenting his findings at the International Communication Association Convention in San Diego this month.
A January report from King’s College London that studied both identical and non-identical 16-year-old twins, also found that genetic factors influence how much time people spend social networking and gaming.
But this previous came to the opposite conclusion – that environmental factors were more influential than straight genetics. Heritability was responsible for 37% of the time kids spent on entertainment websites, 39% of the time they spent playing online games, and 24% of the time they spent on Facebook.
The definite source of our need to overshare is still up for debate, but the experts agree that genes are playing a part.
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