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Is Internet Addiction Genetic?

One of the ways that addiction is defined is by how much of one’s time and energy get devoted to the subject. So, if a person thinks about food all day, or exercise, or getting high or even being on the internet, it can become an addiction.

A group of German researchers recently evaluated 132 people (with the average age of 25) who seemed to be overly attached to the internet, while another 132 people who had not problematic internet behavior was selected as a control group. Those who were addicted said that all of their thoughts all day revolved around the internet and that they felt that their well-being was is jeopardy if they could not go online. The article in the Journal of Addiction Medicine stated that internet addiction might have the same genetic component as nicotine addiction does.

The Web lovers were more likely to have a genetic mutation on the CHRNA4 gene, the same gene that is known to be a part of nicotine addiction. More women than men had it, so more study will be needed because generally research has found that more men get addicted to the internet than women.

Though the study is not definitive, Christian Montag, the author, stated that, “Internet addiction is not a figment of our imagination.” He added that the study shows that,”There are clear indications for genetic causes of Internet addiction.” Montag is employed in the department for differential and biological psychology at the University of Bonn.

Another study in Germany showed that about 1% of Germans are addicted to the internet. It would be interesting to discover exactly how it is defined and how they determine who is addicted and who is not. Is a person addicted if she spends an hour on Facebook every night in lieu of taking care of her responsibilities? Is a man addicted if he spends three hours every evening on World of Warcraft, or only if he loses his job because he plays it all night?

In general, we can say that addiction is the opposite of self-discipline. One wonders whether it will make a difference to know that a particular gene predisposes one to addictions or not. For instance, how will that change the person’s upbringing and education?


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