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Addicted to Facebook? Your genes could be to blame

Women who constantly troll Facebook and Twitter now have a genetic out: German scientists suggest their "Internet addictions" might be hereditary.

Testing people who were obsessed with the Web, researchers at the University of Bonn found the same gene variant previously linked to smoking addiction. Many of the "addicts" were women.

"The current data already shows that there are clear indications for genetic causes of Internet addiction," lead author and psychologist Christian Montag said in a release. "This [genetic] variant occurs more frequently, in particular, in women."

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Dr. Montag and his colleagues queried 843 men and women about their habits online, asking them how often their minds wandered to using the Web and what the result would be were they denied Internet access. Some 132 men and women were deemed most addicted to the Net.

"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," the researchers wrote.

They examined this group's genetic makeup, comparing it with a control group, and found a variant: "What we already know about [this receptor] in the brain is that a mutation on the related gene promotes addictive behaviour," Dr. Montag said in the release.

The scientists believe that Internet addictions have molecular-genetic connections, which, if better understood, could have implications for more effective therapies.

Studies have long shown that women are more active on Facebook than men, spending substantially more time managing their profiles. Psychology PhD students at the University of Guelph found women boasted more friends and posted way more photos than men. University at Buffalo researchers, meanwhile, posited that women used Facebook as a platform for attention, disclosing far more on the site than men.

Commenters weighing in on the current research at the London Telegraph were (predictably) skeptical: "I can sleep easy now and blame my forefathers for all my vices," wrote one, NoWeCant.

Another, simplestu, posited this explanation: the "weak-will-and-low-self-esteem-gene. "

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