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Sad Kids, Sad Media? Applying Mood Management Theory to Depressed Adolescents’ Use of Media


Carpentier, Francesca R. Dillman; Brown, Jane D.; Bertocci, Michele; Silk, Jennifer S.; Forbes, Erika E.; & Dahl, Ronald E. (2008). Sad Kids, Sad Media? Applying Mood Management Theory to Depressed Adolescents' Use of Media. Media Psychology, 11(1), 143-166. PMCID: PMC2746648


Mood management studies typically have found that adults will select media that enhance positive moods and reduce negative moods. In this study, adolescents diagnosed with major depressive disorder and control adolescents without psychiatric disorders were called on customized cell phones up to 4 times a day and asked about their current mood state and media use for five extended weekends across an 8-week period. Mood effects on subsequent media use, mood during media consumption, and media effects on subsequent mood were examined. Results indicated that adolescents who consumed fun media tended to do so in a way that sustained, rather than enhanced their prior positive mood levels during and after consumption-if they turned to media. Adolescents in more negative moods did not often use media to improve their moods. When they did, boys were more likely than girls to use media that ultimately reduced negative mood levels. Findings are discussed in light of the literature on mood management, adolescence, and depression.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Media Psychology


Carpentier, Francesca R. Dillman
Brown, Jane D.
Bertocci, Michele
Silk, Jennifer S.
Forbes, Erika E.
Dahl, Ronald E.