Bennet, Schatz to NIH: Are we becoming addicted to tech?

Almost Half of Young Children Now Own a Mobile Device

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and Brian Schatz (D-HI), Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, today asked the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide more information about technology addiction and its effect on childhood development.

“Technological progress has benefited society, but we must not neglect its consequences as we continue to innovate,” the senators wrote in a letter to NIH. “To address the open question of whether we are addicted to technological devices and platforms, Congress must understand the current scientific consensus, potential gaps in research, and the best way to build a body of evidence that can inform effective policymaking.”

In their letter to NIH Director Francis Collins, the senators highlighted early research showing that technology can lead to stress, depression, lack of focus, and sleep deprivation. They also underscored concerns leaders in the tech industry have expressed about addiction to electronic devices and the use of the internet. In addition to studies from nonprofit organizations and academic institutions, even investors on Wall Street have begun to show concern over tech addiction. Earlier this year, two of the biggest Wall Street investors asked Apple to research the health effects of its products and develop new tools for parents.

A recent report found that nearly all homes with children under the age of 8 years old now have a mobile device, a dramatic increase from 41 percent just six years earlier. The report also found that kids are spending more time on smartphones. Kids now spend an average of 48 minutes a day viewing a mobile screen which is up from 15 minutes a day in 2013.

A copy of the letter is available HERE.