WASHINGTON, DC – Following passage of the Children and Media Research Advancement (CAMRA) Act, Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, sent a letter to Dr. Lawrence A. Tabak, Acting Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), calling for the swift launch of an extensive research initiative on the impact of technology and media on children, teens, and infants, consistent with the CAMRA Act. Last December, Senator Markey and Representative Raskin secured passage of the CAMRA Act as part of the Fiscal Year 2023 omnibus spending package, which also directed $15 million for the first year of research on how technology use reshapes the cognitive, physical, and mental development of children and adolescents.
As children’s screen time has nearly doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic, and children increasingly rely on technology in their day-to-day lives, parents, pediatricians, and public officials, including the Surgeon General of the United States, are sounding the alarm. Experts agree that additional research is urgently needed. Under the CAMRA Act, NIH will investigate the effects of social media, artificial intelligence, video games, mobile devices, and other technologies on infants, children, and adolescents.
“We write to you regarding the unprecedented mental health challenges facing our nation’s children, who are growing up in an increasingly digital world,” Representative Raskin and Senator Markey wrote in their letter to Dr. Tabak. “As President Biden highlighted in his recent State of the Union address, social media and new technologies are affecting our children in ways we don’t yet fully understand, and we must do more to protect them from online harms. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), our nation’s top medical research agency, can now play a key role in addressing this pressing problem by helping us better understand how and why these harms occur. We respectfully urge the NIH to swiftly implement the bipartisan Children and Media Research Advancement (CAMRA) Act provision enacted in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 and significantly increase research into the effects of technology use and media consumption on teens, children, and infants, consistent with recent congressional action.”
Congressman Raskin led the CAMRA Act in the U.S. House of Representatives for three Congresses before its enactment into law. As former Chair of the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and as Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, he has been at the forefront of congressional efforts to investigate and hold Big Tech companies accountable. He led dozens of his colleagues in calling for stronger location data privacy protections for consumers. Location data often contain the most sensitive pieces of personal information harvested by smartphone apps and are frequently sold to the multibillion-dollar location tracking industry. He has also championed legislation to strengthen privacy protections for children and teens by prohibiting companies from targeted advertising to children and requiring websites and apps that are used by children to be designed with children’s best interests in mind.
Senator Markey is a longtime champion of children’s online protections, and in the 118th Congress he will continue fighting for commonsense safeguards against the threats Big Tech poses to young people. Senator Markey authored the landmark Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 to protect privacy of children online, and the Children’s Television Act, which established critical media and advertising rules to protect the wellbeing of children. He is also the author of the updated Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act, also known as COPPA 2.0, which he will reintroduce this Congress.