If you're a massive Facebook addict who can't stop scrolling through social media -- don't worry, it's not your fault.
A new study has found some people are genetically programmed to crave social media more than other people, as their DNA influences the amount of time they spend online.
DNA also makes an impact when it comes to how long we spend online gaming and using entertainment media.
The findings also suggest people aren't helplessly lured in by an addiction to social media or online gaming, but rather they actively seek it out based on their genes, researchers said.
Researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King's College in London compared the online habits of around 8,500 16-year-old twins.
Half were identical twins (who share 100 percent of their genes) while the others were non-identical (who share just half).
Scientists found each individual's genetic makeup was responsible for up to 39 percent of the overall time they spent online -- 24 percent when it came to social media.
This means each person can tailor their online needs based on how much media exposure they require, lead researcher Ziada Ayorech said.
Finding that DNA differences substantially influence how individuals interact with the media puts the consumer in the driver's seat, selecting and modifying their media exposure according to their needs. Our findings contradict popular media effects theories, which typically view the media as an external entity that has some effect – either good or bad – on “helpless” consumers.
So that's actually good news.
The study is the first to claim a link exists between a person's use of social media or online gaming and their genes.
Senior researcher Professor Robert Plomin added,
The key component of this gene-environment correlation is choice.
This means individuals are not simply passive recipients of their environment, but instead actively select their experiences -- and these selections are correlated with their genetic propensities.