The US Congress may not be able to agree on much, but a bipartisan group of senators and representatives have concurred that studying the impact of social media and technology on kids is worth $95 million.

The group today introduced a bill called the Children and Media Research Advancement (CAMRA) Act, which if approved would direct the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the effects of technology and media on infants, kids, and teens, including its impact on their cognitive, physical, and socio-emotional development.

“Digital devices are constant companions in this digital age, but we don’t understand the impact on child development, education, or overall well-being,” said Jim Steyer, chief executive officer of the nonprofit Common Sense Media, who advised on the bill. “Without good research, we are performing an unprecedented experiment on our kids.”

There is ample debate about whether our kids are addicted to technology or not. At a recent conference, Robert Lustig, a professor of pediatrics focused on endocrinology at the University of Southern California and author of The Hacking of the American Mind, said “It’s not a drug, but it might as well be. It works the same way … it has the same results.”

Jenny Radesky, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician who wrote the screen time guidelines for the American Academy of Pediatrics, was more nuanced. “From the early childhood perspective, we don’t use the word ‘addiction’ clinically or in research because it is early childhood,” she said. “We use the idea of ‘functional impairment,’ when media use is getting so heavy that the content is influencing a child’s behavior.” On that front, she is concerned.

Read more of this article, originally published on qz.com, by clicking on the title link.

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