Sen. Markey Encourages National Health Institute To Study Impact of Technology on Children

The following is a media release from Sen. Ed Markey’s offices. He was elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. He is a Democrat.

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WASHINGTON DC – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), today, February 25, sent a letter to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) calling for a major research initiative focused on the impact of technology use and media consumption on children, teens, and infants.

The Senators are lead co-sponsors of the Children and Media Research Advancement (CAMRA) Act, legislation that authorizes NIH to lead a research program on the cognitive, physical and socio-emotional effects of technology and media on young people.

Last year, Congress recognized the need to invest in this type of research in the explanatory statement accompanying the FY2020 Further Consolidated Appropriation Act stating that, “The agreement recognizes that children’s and teens’ lives increasingly involve widespread technology use and consumption of digital media. The agreement encourages NIH to prioritize research into how these types of stimuli affect young people’s cognitive, physical, and socio-emotional outcomes, including attention, sleeping routines, and anxiety.”

“In schools and in homes, young people are using technology to entertain themselves, educate themselves, and communicate with one another; however, while kids and teens are increasingly living their lives online and with devices in their hands, parents and policymakers alike lack important information about how increased technology use is impacting children in America,” write Senators Markey, Blunt, and Sasse in their letter to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins. “As the largest funder of biomedical research in the world, the NIH has an important role to play in catalyzing and conducting critical research into how technology use and digital media consumption relate to and influence social awareness, problem solving skills, exercise, and other important outcomes.”

A copy of the letter can be found HERE.

The CAMRA Act focuses on the impact of social media, mobile devices, artificial intelligence, and much more. The bill commissions research that will investigate how these stimuli affect children in the following core areas of development:

  • Cognitive: attention, creative problem solving skills, executive functioning, visual and spatial skills, literacy, critical thinking, and other learning abilities; and the impact of early technology use on developmental trajectories.
  • Physical: physical development and health behaviors, including diet, exercise, sleeping and eating routines, and other areas of physical development.
  • Socio-Emotional: self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, relationship skills, empathy, distress tolerance, perception of social cues, awareness of one’s relationship with the media, and decision-making, as well as outcomes such as civic engagement, violence, bullying, depression, anxiety, addiction, obsessive behavior, and suicidal ideation.

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