(COLORADO) — The Children and Media Research Advancement (CAMRA) Act will aim to direct research into the effects of various media on infants, children, and teens.

The CAMRA Act was passed as part of the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) omnibus package last year. Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined U.S. Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in celebrating the passage.

“As America’s kids spend more time on social media, I believe it’s no coincidence we have also seen a crisis of teen mental health. After years of advocacy, I’m pleased we passed the CAMRA Act to research how social media affects the cognitive, physical, and socio-emotional development of our kids. Parents deserve better data, and this legislation will help give it to them,” Bennet said.

Concerns about children’s screen time during the pandemic increasing and the exponential growth of mental health issues among children and teens have fueled the need for the CAMRA Act according to Bennet’s office.

The legislation empowers the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to “develop a research agenda” to dig into the effects of media on kids. The Director of NIH has a year to report progress to congress. For fiscal years (FY) 2022 through 2024, congress appropriated $15 million, and for FY 2025 through 2026 congress appropriated $25 million.

The CAMRA Act would investigate “the impact of exposure to and use of media and technologies such as mobile devices, computers, social media, online applications, websites, television, motion pictures, artificial intelligence, video games, and virtual and augmented reality” in children and teens.

According to the bill, areas of focus will be:

  • Cognitive – The role and impact of media use and exposure in the development of children and adolescents within such cognitive areas as language development, executive functioning, attention, creative problem-solving skills, visual and spatial skills, literacy, critical thinking, and other learning abilities, and the impact of early technology use on developmental trajectories.
  • Physical – The role and impact of media use and exposure on children’s and adolescents’ physical development and health behaviors, including diet, exercise, sleeping and eating routines, and other areas of physical development.
  • Socio-emotional – The role and impact of media use and exposure on children’s and adolescents’ social-emotional competencies, including 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 violations of privacy, perpetration of or exposure to violence, bullying or other forms of aggression, depression, anxiety, substance use, misuse or disorder, and suicidal ideation/behavior and self-harm.