SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- One month after Common Sense and the Center for Humane Technology partnered on the Truth About Tech campaign, a new effort to promote and protect our children's health and well-being in the digital age, Common Sense announced it is spearheading legislation in Washington, D.C., and California to study the impact of social media and heavy device use on the development of children. The California Digital Health Research Act (AB 2662 in California) has been introduced by Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park), and in the nation's capitol, Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is authoring a federal research bill calling for National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding to address the need for more data.
"Kids in the United States spend the majority of their days with technology, yet little research has been done to fully understand the impact it is having on their social, emotional, and cognitive development," said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense. "While of course there are great benefits to technology, there are also unintended consequences -- such as feelings of addiction and anxiety -- that we are increasingly concerned about. By researching the effects of technology on the development of our kids, we can help parents, educators, and the tech industry make smart decisions about how kids can maximize the potential of these incredibly powerful machines."
Teenagers use an average of nine hours of media per day, and tweens use an average of six (Common Sense Census, 2015), and while many innovative technologies provide valuable experiences for kids, the amount of tech in their lives can have negative effects. Half of teens feel addicted to their mobile devices, and the majority of parents (60 percent) feel their kids are addicted, according to a 2016 Common Sense report on technology addiction. A recent study of eighth-graders by Jean Twenge, author of iGen, found that heavy users are 56 percent more likely to say they are unhappy; twenty-seven percent more likely to be depressed; and 35 percent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide.
The California Digital Health Research Act would create a digital health commission to support research on concerns about digital addiction and its potential impact on the health and well-being of kids. The legislation is part of the Truth About Tech campaign, an advocacy effort focused on kids' digital well-being, including legislation to support research, as well as media literacy, improved privacy and security protections for kids, and digital transparency.
In addition to the legislative efforts, the campaign will educate and inform the more than 80 million consumers who regularly turn to Common Sense for trustworthy, objective information to help them make smart media choices for their families. It will also enlist designers and technologists from across the industry to recognize their moral responsibility to use technology for the greater good, as opposed to potentially harming kids.
About Common Sense
Common Sense is the nation's leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in the 21st century. Learn more at commonsense.org.