Internet Addiction Might Be Genetic

Same mutation associated with nicotine addiction
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 30, 2012 5:00 PM CDT
Internet addiction 'isn't a figment of our imagination,' says a researcher.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Internet addiction may be in our genes—just like nicotine addiction. In a study of 843 people, researchers found that 132 suffered "problematic" online behavior: "All their thoughts revolve around the Internet during the day, and they feel their well-being is severely impacted if they have to go without it." Members of this group were more likely than their peers to have a genetic variation associated with nicotine addiction.

For those with the variation, nicotine links to a receptor to fuel the brain's reward system; something similar may be going on with the Internet. Interestingly, the phenomenon is more pronounced in women, CNET reports. "Internet addiction is not a figment of our imagination," says the study's lead author. "The current data already shows that there are clear indications for genetic causes of Internet addiction." And "if such connections are better understood, this will also result in important indications for better therapies." (Read more Internet stories.)

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