Heritability of compulsive Internet use in adolescents

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Over the past decades, Internet use has grown substantially, and it now serves people as a supportive tool that is used regularly and - in large parts of the world - inevitably. Some people develop problematic Internet use, which may lead to addictive behavior and it is becoming important to explore the risk factors for compulsive Internet use. Data were analyzed on compulsive Internet use [with the Compulsive Internet Use Scale (CIUS)] from 5247 monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) adolescent twins registered with the Netherlands Twin Register. The participants form a sample that is informative for genetic analyses, allowing the investigation of the causes of individual differences in compulsive Internet use. The internal consistency of the instrument was high and the 1.6-year test-retest correlation in a subsample (n = 902) was 0.55. CIUS scores increased slightly with age. Remarkably, gender did not explain variation in CIUS scores, as mean scores on the CIUS were the same in boys and girls. However, the time spent on specific Internet activities differed: Boys spent more time on gaming, whereas girls spent more time on social network sites and chatting. The heritability estimates were the same for boys and girls: 48 percent of the individual differences in CIUS score were influenced by genetic factors. The remaining variance (52 percent) was due to environmental influences that were not shared between family members. Because a life without Internet is almost impossible nowadays, it is important to further explore the determinants of compulsive Internet use, including genetic risk factors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)460-468
JournalAddiction Biology
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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