Bill would commission research on children’s technology use and outcomes including addiction, bullying, and depression
Washington (February 26, 2019) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Representative Jamie Raskin (MD-08) and Ted Budd (NC-13) today reintroduced the Children and Media Research Advancement (CAMRA) Act, legislation that authorizes the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to lead a research program on technology and media’s effects on infants, children, and adolescents in core areas of cognitive, physical, and socio-emotional development. This research would investigate the impact of exposure to and use of media such as mobile devices, computers, social media, applications, websites, television, motion pictures, artificial intelligence, video games, and virtual and augmented reality. The bill authorizes $15 million for fiscal years 2020-2022, and $25 million for each of fiscal years 2023and 2024.
Research indicates that children’s use of technology has increased dramatically in recent years. A 2017 report finds that children eight years old and younger spend 48 minutes a day on mobile devices, up from 15 minutes in 2013. Similarly, 42 percent of kids eight years old and younger have their own tablets, a major increase from seven percent 2013 and a mere one percent in 2011.
“Today, kids’ heads are often buried in their glowing devices, while parents are left in the dark about the impacts of that technology. As a society, we must be clear eyed about all of the implications of children’s media use,” said Senator Markey. “This CAMRA Act will help produce research to shed light on the cognitive, physical, and socio-emotional impacts of technology on kids. I am proud to partner with Senators Blunt, Sasse, Schatz, Bennet, and Collins on the CAMRA Act, and look forward to the debate we must have in Congress to address this growing concern of American families.”
“Neuroscience is moving faster and faster,” said Senator Sasse. “Some of the stuff we took for granted a few years ago is getting completely reworked by what we’re learning now. As research on neuroplasticity is exploding, so is the amount of time our kids spend with habit-forming technology. Some of this technology is good and some of it is bad – we don’t know enough, but what we do know is that the science is moving fast and we need to invest in this research now.”
“With more children using digital devices in their everyday lives, it’s critically important for us to learn more about how technology may impact their health and development,” said Senator Blunt. “This bill prioritizes research that will give parents, teachers, and health professionals the information they need to provide a better environment for children to learn and grow.”
“As technology continues to makes it easier for our kids to watch videos or play games on every kind of device, we need to know its long-term effects on their health,” said Senator Schatz. “Whether we are addicted to technological devices and platforms is still an open question. This bill will help Congress understand the science behind tech addiction and give us the tools to make effective policy.”
“We owe it to kids growing up in the digital age to learn more about the effects of apps and devices on their development,” said Senator Bennet. “To do this, we need to invest in research that can guide the tech industry and Congress to make informed decisions about technology’s effect on kids’ health and well-being.”
“As technology and media continue to change, so does the manner in which young people interact with it on a daily basis. There is little research, however, on the effects these devices have on their short- and long-term health and development,” said Senator Collins. “Our bipartisan bill would provide NIH with the resources they need to conduct this important research to keep children and adolescents healthy.”
“As the Representative of the community which proudly includes the NIH, I’m delighted to join my colleagues Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) in introducing important bipartisan legislation authorizing NIH to study the developmental health effects of media and technology on our young people,” said Rep. Raskin. “As screen time replaces play time, America’s parents and caregivers need to know how technology is reshaping the cognitive, physical, and emotional growth of our children.”
“It’s no secret to any of us - especially to those of us who have children - that our kids are spending countless hours on phones, television or the computer,” said Rep. Budd. “With research showing that children’s use of technology has increased dramatically in recent years, we're in uncharted territory. From a societal standpoint, this may be a component of a larger social crisis in our country. We’re becoming more connected, yet more isolated. By researching the developmental effects of media, it will give us more insight on how things such as social media and video games are impacting our kids. I’m glad to help lead in this bipartisan effort.”
A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.
“Technology is a powerful tool that has forever changed the way we all interact. As media and tech become more and more a part of the fabric of family life, we need to better understand its impact on child development and how best to prioritize kids’ digital wellbeing,” said James P. Steyer, CEO and Founder of Common Sense Media. “I commend Senator Markey and Senator Blunt for efforts to establish a research program to study media and technology’s impact on kids. Together, we can identify solutions that work for all kids and families.”
“Facebook is committed to gaining a better understanding of the relationship between media technologies, youth development and well-being,” said Antigone Davis, Global Head of Safety, Facebook. “We applaud the bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators that introduced the CAMRA Act, which will ensure the NIH has the resources to conduct this critically important research.”
“Sesame Workshop is strongly supportive of the CAMRA Act’s efforts to expand federal investment on the impact of media and new technologies on children’s learning and healthy development,” said Michael Levine, Chief Knowledge Officer at Sesame Workshop. “Sesame Street has long demonstrated that media has enormous potential to educate and inspire, and we applaud this bipartisan approach to further support critically needed research to benefit children and families.”
“Internet companies invest in programs, partnerships, policies, controls, and resources to promote productive and positive experiences online and to make their platforms a place where people of all ages can safely interact,” Senior Vice President, Global Government Affairs Melika Carrol, Internet Association. “We appreciate Senators Markey and Blunt for reintroducing the CAMRA Act, which will fund rigorous, independent scientific research to help expand our understanding of how to promote healthy online habits.”
Other companies and organizations endorsing the legislation include: Charter Communications, Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook, the Internet Association, American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Center for Digital Democracy, Common Sense Media, Consumers Union, Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, Dr. Jenny Radesky (Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Developmental Behavior, University of Michigan Medical School), Dr. Michael Rich (Director, Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital), Family Online Safety Institute, the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, and the Center for Humane Technology, Education Development Center, Trisha Prahbu (CEO, ReThink), Dr. David Greenfield (Founder and CMO, The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction).