Bennet Introduces Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Study Effects of Technology on Children

Bill follows Bennet’s letter to NIH and would commission research on children’s technology use and outcomes including addiction, bullying, and depression

Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to authorize the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to lead a research program on the effects of technology and media on infants, children, and adolescents in core areas of cognitive, physical, and socio-emotional development. The bill follows a letter Bennet sent with U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) in May to the NIH, requesting more information about research on technology addiction and its effect on childhood development. NIH Director Francis Collins responded to the letter in June.

“We owe it to our kids to figure out how devices and apps affect their health and well-being,” Bennet said. “Congress has a vital role to play on matters of public health, but we must act based on sound evidence. Our bill will enable that research to help guide the tech industry and Congress as we work to do right by our kids.”

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.

The Children and Media Research Advancement (CAMRA) Act would authorize research to 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 each of fiscal years 2019-2021, and $25 million for each of fiscal years 2022 and 2023. U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Susan Collins (R-ME), with U.S. Representatives John Delaney (MD-06) and Ted Budd (NC-13), are original cosponsors.

Companies and organizations endorsing the legislation include: 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), Family Online Safety Institute, and the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health.

The bill text is available HERE.