Children with a certain genetic marker are more likely to play violent video games and watch violent TV shows and movies, according to a new study.
Researchers in the Netherlands analyzed surveys from 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.
Then they looked at DNA samples taken from the same children at birth.
Children that had a specific variant of the serotonin-transporter gene on average consumed more violent media and displayed more ADHD-related behaviors.
“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 with the University of Amsterdam’s School of Communication Research.
The researchers stress that this is the first of its kind study to link genetic factors with consumption of violent media and caution that environmental factors may also be at work.
The study is published in the Journal of Communication.