Legislators Seek NIH Study of Media, Tech, Impact on Kids

A Bipartisan group of senators has reintroduced a bill, the Children and Media Research Advancement Act, that would fund research into the impact of technology and media on infants through adolescents, looking for any impact on, among other things, bullying, addiction and depression.

Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine), were joined by Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-Md) and Ted Budd (R-N.C.) joined in reintroducing the bill, which "authorizes the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to lead a research program....[on] 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."

Related: Senators Seek NIH Info on Tech Addiction

NIH would get $15 million per year for the study in 2020-2022 and $25 million per year in 2023-2024. It would have to report back to Congress within a year on the progress of its research.

"Today, kids’ heads are often buried in their glowing devices, while parents are left in the dark about the impacts of that technology," said Markey, who was instrumental in creating the TV ratings system and children's online privacy protections. "As a society, we must be clear eyed about all of the implications of children’s media use. 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.”

“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 Sen. Blunt of the effort. “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.”

Among those companies supporting the bill, according to Markey's office, are Charter, Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.