Genetic-linked Inattentiveness Protects Individuals from Internet Overuse: A Genetic Study of Internet Overuse Evaluating Hypotheses Based on Addiction, Inattention, Novelty-seeking and Harm-avoidance

Cheng Sun, Rita Spathis, Krithivasan Sankaranarayanan, Chim W. Chan, J. Koji Lum
Informing Science: The International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline  •  Volume 19  •  2016  •  pp. 173-200
The all-pervasive Internet has created serious problems, such as Internet overuse, which has triggered considerable debate over its relationship with addiction. To further explore its genetic susceptibilities and alternative explanations for Internet overuse, we proposed and evaluated four hypotheses, each based on existing knowledge of the biological bases of addiction, inattention, novelty-seeking, and harm-avoidance. Four genetic loci including DRD4 VNTR, DRD2 Taq1A, COMT Val158Met and 5-HTTLPR length polymorphisms were screened from seventy-three individuals. Our results showed that the DRD4 4R/4R individuals scored significantly higher than the 2R or 7R carriers in Internet Addiction Test (IAT). The 5-HTTLPR short/short males scored significantly higher in IAT than the long variant carriers. Bayesian analysis showed the most compatible hypothesis with the observed genetic results was based on attention (69.8%), whereas hypotheses based harm-avoidance (21.6%), novelty-seeking (7.8%) and addiction (0.9%) received little support. Our study suggests that carriers of alleles (DRD4 2R and 7R, 5-HTTLPR long) associated with inattentiveness are more likely to experience disrupted patterns and reduced durations of Internet use, protecting them from Internet overuse. Furthermore, our study suggests that Internet overuse should be categorized differently from addiction due to the lack of shared genetic contributions.
Internet overuse; inattentiveness; dopamine receptor D4 gene (DRD4); serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR); Internet Addiction Test
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