Delaney, Budd, Markey, Sasse, Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Study Impact of Technology and Media on Children

Jul 26, 2018
Press Release
Bill would commission research on children’s tech use and outcomes including tech addiction, bullying, and depression

WASHINGTON – Congressman John K. Delaney (MD-06) and Congressman Ted Budd (NC-13), today introduced 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. Senator Edward J. Markey (MA) introduced the legislation in the Senate, which was cosponsored by Senators Ben Sasse (NE), Brian Schatz (HI), Roy Blunt (MO), Michael Bennet (CO), and Susan Collins (ME).


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 2019 through 2021, and $25 million for each of fiscal years 2022 and 2023.


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.


“In an era of rapid technological change, we should periodically examine the impact these technologies have on our society – especially our children. This bipartisan legislation will require and fund independent scientific research into the impact various forms of media and devices are having on our children’s mental and physical development, learning capabilities, emotional states, and their general health. With our phones and tablets such an integral part of our lives, we need definitive answers sooner than later, and I thank Senator Markey (MA), Rep. Budd (NC-13) and the rest of our bipartisan partners for teaming up on this important measure,” said Congressman John K. Delaney (MD-6).

 “While technology educates and entertains our children every day, we need a better understanding of how it impacts their social, psychological, and physical well-being,” said Senator Markey. “This bill will enable experts to conduct critical research that will inform parents and policymakers about how best to protect American children’s bodies and minds in the digital age.”


“We’ve seen in recent years how much of our daily lives are consumed by technology,” said Congressman Ted Budd (NC-13). “You can’t even walk outside these days without seeing someone looking down at their phone. This is worrisome, from a societal perspective, because it's part of a larger social crisis in our country. We’re becoming more connected, yet more isolated from one another. By researching the developmental effects of media, it will give us more insight on how things such as social media, video games, and TV are impacting our kids. I’m glad to help lead in this bipartisan effort and hope we can continue working together to address this important issue.”


“Parents urgently need independent scientific research into the impacts on our kids of growing up online,” said James P. Steyer, CEO & Founder of Common Sense Media. “Digital devices are constant companions in this digital age, but we don’t understand the impact on child development, education, or overall well-being. Without good research, we are performing an unprecedented experiment on our kids. The CAMRA Act is our chance to support quality research into the digital health of America's kids and families.  The well-being of children is non-partisan, and we commend Congressman Delaney (D-Maryland) and Ted Budd (R-NC) for their bipartisan leadership on this issue impacting all American families."


“The media we use and how we use them affect the physical, mental, and social health of us all – and have the strongest and most lasting effects on children, whose brains and bodies are still developing,” said Dr. Michael Rich, Director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital. “I urge Congress to pass the CAMRA Act because it is essential that we have 21st Century scientific research to determine how we can promote health and mitigate harm from this ubiquitous and powerful 21st Century public health issue.”


“Internet companies care deeply about the safety and well-being of their users and welcome scientific research on this important issue funded through the CAMRA Act. Existing research lacks the rigor, quality, and independence of an NIH study into this important topic. IA members invest in programs, partnerships, policies, controls, and resources to promote a safe and positive online experience for people of all ages, and look forward to identifying more ways to enhance people’s well-being on and offline,” said Internet Association Senior Vice President of Global Government Affairs Melika Carroll.  


Other 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.