Previous evidence has suggested that physically inactive individuals and extensive media users are at high risk for experiencing depressive symptoms. We examined personality traits and perceived social support as potential moderators of this association. Personality and perceived social support were included as two of the most frequently considered variables when determining predispositioning factors for media use phenomena also discussed in relation to physical activity.
We analysed cross-sectional data from 1402 adults (18–31 years old) who participated in a national health survey in Germany (KiGGS, Study on the health of children and adolescents in Germany, wave 2). The data included one-week accelerometer assessments as objective indicators of physical activity, self-reported media use, depressive symptoms, perceived social support and Big 5 personality traits. An elastic net regression model was fit with depressive symptoms as outcome. Ten-fold cross-validation was implemented.
Amongst the main effects, we found that high media use was positively correlated with depressive symptoms, whereas physical activity was not correlated. Looking at support and individual differences as moderators, revealed that PC use was more strongly correlated with depressive symptoms in cases of low levels of perceived social support. Positive associations of social media use with depressive symptoms were more pronounced, whereas negative associations of moderate to vigorous physical activity with depressive symptoms were less pronounced in extraverts than they were in introverts.
Results highlight the importance of considering individual factors for deriving more valid recommendations on protective health behaviours.