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Screen Time

Genetics influence how much time people spend online, the Los Angeles Times reports. Researchers from King's College London found that genetic differences explain between a quarter and a third of the variation in time people spend online.

As the researchers report in PLOS One, they conducted a twin study that drew on 16-year-old twin pairs, both identical and fraternal twins, living in the UK. They asked thousands of twin pairs about how much time they spend online at educational, entertainment, and gaming sites, and on Facebook.

From this, King's College London researchers calculated that heritability accounted for 34 percent of the variance in the use of educational sites, 37 percent of entertainment sites, 39 percent of gaming, and 24 percent of the variance in Facebook use.

As the LA Times notes, the researchers suspect that the role of genetics on screen time will only become more pronounced as access barriers fall. "As environmental differences in access and availability diminish, our data suggests the difference in online media use would increasingly reflect differences in genetic propensities," the researchers write. 

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