A bipartisan, bicameral bill has been reintroduced that would spend almost $100 million to study the impact of a host of technologies and media on children, an effort its backers suggests has taken on new urgency by the current health crisis.
The Children and Media Research Advancement (CAMRA) Act authorizes the National Institutes of Health to head up research on mobile devices, computers, social media, online applications, websites, television, motion pictures, artificial intelligence, video games, and virtual and augmented reality.
The goal is to assess their effect on the cognitive, physical and social/emotional development of children, infant through adolescent.
NIH would get $15 million per year between 2022 and 2024 and $25 million in 2025 and 2026. NIH would have to report to Congress within a year of authorization of the research with a progress report on the data collected.
Co-sponsoring the bill are Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), as well as Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), and Lori Trahan (D-Mass.).
They argue that the pandemic has put an exclamation point on the need for the research, citing a 50% increase in children's screen time during the mass COVID-19 shut-in.
“Kids’ time online has skyrocketed during the ongoing public health crisis. It is critical that parents and policymakers have a clear, evidence-based understanding of how technologies and media are affecting young people’s brains, bodies, and behaviors,” said Sen. Markey.
“Many parents I’ve spoken with are more concerned than ever about the significant increase in time their kids are spending on tablets, computers, and phones,” said Sen. Blunt. “Unfortunately, not much is known about how these devices impact a child’s health and development. By advancing research to better understand the impact of technology, parents will have valuable information on how to provide a healthy environment for their children to learn and grow.”
"Common Sense is proud to once again support the Children and Media Research Advancement Act (CAMRA) to fund critical research that will help us better understand the impact of media and tech on kids’ overall health," said Common Sense CEO James Steyer.
The bill has been introduced multiple times, most recently in 2019.
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