Why Do We Know So Little About Technology’s Effect on Kids?

It’s a matter of public health, and a new bill aims to get answers.

Tara Moore / Getty
Tara Moore / Getty

Despite the recent rise in conversation about digital well-being, not much is known about the actual effects of tech behavior and addiction, especially in children. Members of congress are looking to change that. Last Thursday, Colorado senator Michael Bennet proposed a piece of legislation that encourages new research on how tech addiction impacts today’s youth.

If passed, $95 million would be granted to the National Institutes of Health over the next five years, giving researchers a chance to dive deeper into an under-researched topic, reports Robbie Gonzales in Wired. The NIH currently devotes little money to the investigation of technology’s role in dependence, mental health, and childhood development.

Although similar bills have been proposed in the past, this act, known as the Children and Media Research Advancement Act (CAMRA), has received the most support from both ends of the political spectrum. It has also been endorsed by both Facebook and Common Sense Media. A San Francisco-based non-profit that provides education and advocacy to families to promote safe technology and media for children.

In a recent statement, Bennet outlined the need for this legislation, saying, “Congress has a vital role to play on matters of public health, but we must act based on sound evidence.” That scientific evidence is crucial as more and more companies, such as Apple, implement strategies to help lower tech usage.

As technology continues to infiltrate every aspect of our lives, and as a global movement emerges around our digital well-being, we must devote more effort to learning how future and current generations will be affected. If CAMRA is passed, we are one step closer to truly understanding these impacts. 

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