International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 60, Issue 2, pp 147–155

Media use and depression: exposure, household rules, and symptoms among young adolescents in the USA

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00038-014-0647-6

Cite this article as:
Bickham, D.S., Hswen, Y. & Rich, M. Int J Public Health (2015) 60: 147. doi:10.1007/s00038-014-0647-6



To determine the longitudinal and cross-sectional associations between different types of electronic media use (mobile phones, TV, computers, video games, and music) and young adolescents’ depressive symptoms, and to explore the potential for household media rules to reduce young people’s depression.


126 young adolescents were recruited from the Northeastern USA. Each type of media use was assessed using survey questions, time use diaries, and ecological momentary assessment. The Beck Depression Index for Primary Care was administered at baseline and 1 year later as part of a questionnaire that also included items assessing the presence of household rules about TV and video games.


Baseline use of mobile phones and TV viewing were associated with higher levels of depression 1 year later controlling for demographic information and baseline depression score. Having household rules about TV at baseline predicted lower levels of depression at follow-up.


Both TV viewing and mobile phone use may contribute to the development of depressive symptoms. Implementing household rules about the duration and content of TV could help reduce depression in young adolescents.


Media Depression Television Mobile phones Video games Adolescents 

Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • David S. Bickham
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Yulin Hswen
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Michael Rich
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Center on Media and Child HealthBostonUSA
  2. 2.Boston Children’s HospitalBostonUSA
  3. 3.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  4. 4.Harvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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