As Facebook executives face questions from senators about efforts to market their products to children and the impact they can have, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin is sponsoring a bill that would fund research into the effects of technology on children and public health.

Raskin (D-Md.-8th) is among the sponsors of the Children and Media Research Advancement Act, which would authorize the National Institutes of Health to conduct comprehensive research on technology and media’s effects on the cognitive, physical and socio-emotional development of children, from infants to adolescents.

“I think we’ve entered a brave new world of children using technology and social media,” Raskin, who represents a broad swath of Frederick County, said in an interview with the News-Post Tuesday.

The bill would provide $15 million for fiscal years 2022-24 and $25 million each in fiscal years 2025 and 2026.

The average child receives their own smartphone around the age of 10, and 98 percent of children under the age of 8 use mobile devices at home, according to statistics provided by Raskin’s office in support of the bill. The second number is up from 50 percent in 2011.

Half of teenagers say they feel “addicted” to their phones, and children who heavily use social media and technology are 56 percent more likely to say they’re unhappy, with 27 percent more likely to be depressed and 35 percent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide, according to the information.

Social media platforms spend a lot of time and money figuring out how to manipulate children, especially teens, Raskin said.

The impacts are especially severe with topics such as body image, social acceptance and dating, the congressman added.

Raskin and Republican Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio are introducing the bill in the House, and Democratic Sens. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Brian Schatz of Hawaii, and Michael Bennett of Colorado — along with Republicans Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Susan Collins of Maine — are leading the charge in the Senate.

“Today, kids’ heads are often buried in their glowing devices, while parents are left in the dark about the impacts of that technology,” Markey said in a statement to the News-Post. “We must be clear-eyed about all of the implications of children’s media use, and our CAMRA Act will help produce research to shed light on the cognitive, physical, and socio-emotional impacts of technology on kids.”

Markey added, “We cannot rely on leaked Facebook documents to discover the negative mental health impacts of these platforms and technologies on our children and teens.”

Last week, Markey took part in a hearing by the Senate consumer protection subcommittee in which senators questioned Facebook’s global head of safety, Antigone Davis, about what the company knew about its Instagram app’s impact on teens’ self-image.

“Despite these deeply troubling findings from one tech titan’s internal research, we have scarce independent and systematic data about other important consequences of children’s use of technology and media,” Raskin and Gonzalez wrote in a letter to colleagues seeking their support for the bill.

Not all the findings of the study are expected to be negative, Raskin said.

But the funding is needed because there isn’t good, comprehensive research on the impacts of technology.

“We just don’t know. So we’re kind of stumbling around in the dark,” he said.

Follow Ryan Marshall on Twitter: @RMarshallFNP

Ryan Marshall is the transportation and growth and development reporter for the News-Post. He can be reached at rmarshall@newspost.com.

(34) comments

mrnatural1

Quote:

"Social media platforms spend a lot of time and money figuring out how to manipulate children, especially teens, Raskin said.

The impacts are especially severe with topics such as body image, social acceptance and dating, the congressman added."

~

It is unclear why this article focuses on "technology" when the problems children (and adults) face are primarily related to social media -- Facebook and Instagram in particular.

It should be clear to everyone by now that Facebook's main focus is growth and profit. All else is secondary at best. There have been numerous documentaries, movies, and books about the pathological greed and anti-social behavior of Facebook. It is well documented. Every time there is a FB scandal they send out their world-class PR people (they are *really* slick) to "apologize" and say, "This is an important topic that deserves more discussion." Yeah, right. Rinse, repeat.

Regulation is not enough. Regulation would be better than nothing, but how well has regulation of other industries worked for us in the past? The regulatory agencies get packed ith industry-friendly people who transition from (say) Exxon/Mobil to the EPA and back -- with a cushy high salary job waiting for them when they return .

King Zuck would love for FB to be regulated, because that would take most responsibility off of his shoulders -- "Hey, I'm just doing what the gov't agency told me to do..." -- while he finds ways around the regs, and continues to make billions of dollars off FB users.

Facebook should be completely reorganized into a benevolent, non-profit, means-tested, fee-for-service platform. Free for low income people/families. No ads. No more destruction of all societies it infiltrates. Strong, balanced moderation -- NO: fake news, propaganda, conspiracy theories, white supremacy, election interference, inciting riots and lynchings, inciting insurrection against the U.S. government, anti-vaxxer garbage, etc, etc.

There is no "right" to free speech on social media. The gov't would not be involved in any way. The non-profit would have the absolute right to moderate content as it sees fit -- just as the FNP does not have to publish all LTE's it receives, or any/all of these comments.

Facebook is an extremely serious existential threat, right up there with climate change.

Ditch the evil, keep the good. That's the only way to save the world from FB and other social media platforms.

MD1756

I've never liked that we had so many political appointees at the EPA. Some were good, but many were there to think they might help (and some to do harm) while primarily padding their resume for their next high paying job.

jsklinelga

I don't particularly like Raskin but I am sure he is quite good at writing a bill. This is a bi-partisan bill. That won my vote of approval.

shiftless88

Most of the bills being discussed now should be bi-partisan but the republicans won't agree to anything that helps Biden, even if they supported it before. We've seen this before (Obamacare, which incorporated many conservative aspects).

public-redux

What does your like or dislike of Raskin have to do with the merits of this bill? It’s one ad hom after another with you. Try to focus on ideas for once.

veritas

So sayeth our resident oracle and scold.

nbouqu1

Every time there is a new technology or ideas eventually concerns about its impact on children emerge. And it's always overblown. This goes back to Socrates. Hell Congress held hearings in the 1950s about how comic books were bad for children and society. Today we look at those actions and at best shake our heads in disbelief of the level or ignorance and stupidity to at worst openly mock them.

Probably why politicians are stumbling around in the dark...they don't want to over react? and you know campaign donations from technology lobbyists....?

Remember the Clinton years and the warnings on music that contained explicit lyrics? They were trying to regulate music....OMG. I roll my eyes at that....now. Then I was kinda okay with it...because of the children, but turns out the children were fine and not the ones we needed to worry about, it was us the adults. We did not understand what we were censoring and why? Some things should not be censored...actually nothing should be censored.

As adults we do need to be aware of technology and how it affects the children and now we have the evidence what are we going to do about it…?

Are regulations the same as censorship? ? Are we going to censor or regulate? Seems like it's a fine line.

NewMarketParent

@Polite W. Woman aka N.W. aka P.P. aka L&M

We definitely need to regulate. Truthfully, we probably need an alternative that is publicly financed like PBS for technology. We a PBS-like entity to teach kids how to integrate technology into their lives the safe way and push kids to use tech better.

Every time we leave the free market to deal with this, we end up having to spend a generation cleaning up the after-effects.

The free market wants to monetize your kids. We need to remember that when we leave it to the free market.

We have kids now who believe in flat earth which is the stupidest $h17 I've ever heard of.

@NMP

I agree but I can see the line between regulation and censorship blurring, who will regulate the regulators?

public-redux

The single most influential technology of the 20th century in education was the mimeograph machine.

There is a documentary on Netflix, the social dilemma, that explores the dangerous human impact of social networking...then in 2019 on Netflix there was The Great Hack that explored how a data company Cambridge Analytica exploited the dark side of social media in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. Both very eye opening...

I have seen both of them but even after watching them I am not going to ditch my smart phone...because it's nice to Facetime with family..especially now during the pandemic. Also it's nice to be carrying around a camera/video device in my pocket at all times...you never know. I really want technology in my pocket...at all times. Parents feel safer when their kids have phones....if you are a parent I need say nothing more.

There have been many people trying to alert lawmakers that they need to do something...and now finally lawmakers are listening??? There are no regulations on the Internet/technology...also everyone is going to define technology differently.

....there are positive aspects to technology, wasn't it nice being able to buy anything online and have it delivered to our homes during the pandemic a lifesaver? It's the social media part of technology that seems to be the problem ?

But the funding is needed because there isn’t good, comprehensive research on the impacts of technology....probably better way to state it would be impacts of social media. Social media and technology are two different things and both need some regulations and as far as research goes there is plenty out there on the impacts of technology/social media on our lives.

Politicians should not need to be stumbling around in the dark. There is evidence all over the place(if they care to actually look) on the impacts of social media...on us and our children. Facebook is like Pandora's box....lawmakers should have been working on this years ago.

Awteam2021

When new technologies are introduced in our society, and there’s many more to come, we will continuously need governance over technology and how it affects individuals and our society as a whole. “With the good comes the bad”... Bad is never far behind… intentionally or unintentionally.

The goal is to strive for better while hindering the bad.

Now can someone tell me how to stop ‘Alexa’ from broadcasting my bedtime is 9pm? Don’t want to ask my grand children 👶, “ granddad who can’t do that?”

Awteam2021

Why do you have a spy in your home?? It's bad enough that we carry tracking devices in our back pockets, but a spy ? I refuse to have a spy in my home but I do carry a tracking device in my back pocket....Apple does have some good privacy protections but I am not so sure about Amazon? I turned Siri off..and my location services...though if you have listened to anything Edward Snowden has said, turning off your location services doesn't really stop you from being tracked...

Awteam2021

How do you avoid digital surveillance today? You weren’t born? Didn’t attend school? Never worked? Never married? Didn’t have parents, siblings or offsprings? You don’t have credit cards, don’t have a mortgage, don’t have a car, don’t have payroll deduction, don’t have automatic deposit, don’t have a Social Security card, you don’t subscribe to any comment boards like to Frederick news Post, you didn’t get covid shots? Come-on ‘man’ if I wanted to track you down, know what you are doing, I could track that do in 15 minutes and I’m not the government. You already have a huge footprint.

But, I have a ‘secret weapon’ that hinders spying. It’s called, “boring.” Unless you find trimming trees and hedges, cutting grass, walking the dog and feeding the cats, listening to the Dave Matthews band, sometimes James Brown, if I need a spike. I doubt there would be little interest on spying on me. Oh, I did put up Halloween decorations this weekend. They might find ,listening in, I’m annoyed by my wife’s sister popping in over, every weekend in the middle of football games, to pester me, saying every-time we come here, your husband is laying on the couch watching football, drinking beer. Can’t a guy have any vices? ‘Alexa answered: “Hum, I don’t have an answer for that“ ?🤷‍♂️

Oh, lactose intolerant.

Awteam2021

Sorry, I should’ve said “come-on” woman. My bad 😣.

But that's the thing we aren't boring.....and I hope I would be able to be tracked down if needed...if we are that trackable why do people go missing and are never found because we aren't that trackable....and true no one is really spying on us in that sense...because so many people are missing and are never found.

You boring life is sold over and over again to who knows ? Your boring life is the product....no one is that boring. Our boring lives are the point...makes us predictable easily swayed.

Facebook collects our date...well not mine so much...and we have no idea what they do with it, who they've sold us too? What privacy protections does Amazon have how can you be assured that something you say won't be taken out of context and exploited by Amazon in some way or given to bad actors., certainly you have uttered words out loud that you would prefer no one ever know about right? Well Alexa is always listening and recording...remember that. Personally that creeps me out to know I have something in my house that is always listening, no matter how many boring things I may or may not say?

Enemy Of the State was made in 1998 and oddly enough still very relevant in 2021.

NewMarketParent

@Awteam2021

Remember that Steve Jobs famously said that he didn't let his kids have electronic devices. He knew. The problem is that most of us don't have the type of money to pay people to interact with our kids 24/7 so it isn't practical for the average person to steer clear of technology. We just need to make sure that we are teaching them to use technology properly and as tools to help them improve their lives and not to turn them into little selfish narcissists like Faux is doing to conservatives.

MD1756

Wasn't it the democrats that pushed getting technology into the schools even at an age I always thought was way too young. I think children need to learn the basics without technology and then when older learn how technology can possibly make one's tasks more efficient.

I don't know why parents give children cell phones and other electronic devices at such an early age. I guess parents are letting mobile devices be their baby sitters.

NewMarketParent

@MD1756

I don't think it is any different than previous generations in a sense. Electronic devices are the new TV. Because we don't have any sort of sane child care in the US and since the family is so messed up, parents end up using devices to entertain their children.

PBS has always been a great source of educational entertainment growing up and well believed to teach things that we all consider good like reading, writing, arithmetic and citizenship.

The only difference is that TV was a single-way media. The introduction of phones/tablets allows for a more immersive experience and we have to take care that the people who manage this media are dedicated to using it to entertain and educate and not to manipulate and create addiction.

Let's be careful that this doesn't become the new "Satanic Panic". Every generation has one and the adults completely overreact to the point of stupidity.

MD1756

In the 60s/70s we didn't watch TV all day. We weren't allowed to even use calculators until 12th grade (1978/79 for me). Yes TV does have some good educational programs if one looks for them but I suspect many children don't look for them on their own. I'm not saying ban technology, but make sure the basics are learned first without technology before allowing technology to be used by children. I don't really see any point of cell phones for children. With proper planning parents should generally know what their children are doing. If at school or a friends house, they can use one of the phones there if they need to get in touch with their parents. They don't need social media so they can bully each other at all times of the day instead of just during school hours, for example.

phydeaux994

You don’t play the game MD, you can’t make the rules. Have a child, raise them to adulthood and then express your opinion. It’s awful easy to be a Monday morning quarterback.

Awteam2021

MD1756, now ask your grandchild to pair your iPhone with your 📺.🤷‍♂️

MD1756

Don't need to aweteam, I've built computers from components in the past. I understand technology that I care to use. I have also used bluelink to pair my tablet with my computer. It seems that many people don't understand my comments, misrepresent my comments or understand but ignore the comments because it doesn't fit their preconceived notions. Phydeaux is a good example of that. Gabrielshorn is an example of one who can read and understand and not misrepresent a person's position. One doesn't have to have children to understand from reading how technology can be misused (socially and in a problem solving or efficiency manner). After all I wasn't born 60 years old. Being an engineer with an MBA I've learned and used a lot of technology and I maintain that one needs to understand the basics before using technology to try to solve a problem. I'll give an example from work (note: this example doesn't deal with the social misuse). High level management decided to use "big data" to target compliance inspections to improve the "hit rate" for finding violations and the chose the hazardous waste (RCRA) program for their pilot. They paired up with the University of Chicago and with students that had absolutely know knowledge about the RCRA program (neither the regulations nor implementation of the compliance assurance program). I told upper management that their targeting might be useful if we had an unlimited budget but that targeting inspections was not our or the states' biggest problems. Our problem was the quality of the inspections (major factors impacting that were length of time to conduct the inspection, inspector knowledge of the program (related to inspector training), state's enforcement program (if they didn't have authority to use administrative penalties they tend to find fewer violations, etc. I said if the inspector can't find violations in the first place, targeting doesn't matter one bit. We had information that 14 out of 16 inspections at TSDFs done by our experts had found significant violations or permit conditions that should not exist at facilities that had been regularly inspected by the states and in some cases by EPA regional staff. That should that the problem was not targeting but inspection quality so that before using technology, the basics needed to be addressed. I also reminded them that by statute, TSDF facilities had to be thoroughly inspected every year if owned or operated by a government or at least every two years if own by a public or private company. Large quantity generators had to be inspected at least every 5 years by policy. So again, targeting the inspections really wasn't the answer but those high up with little understanding of the basics of the program were promoting the use of technology when technology wasn't the right tool to use because the basics of the program were too weak.

I am certainly not against technology, I am against inappropriate use of technology (especially when that technology is used for social activities (social platforms where bullying can and does occur) beyond assigned learning) and I do believe that that there is a point where children are too young to use technology when they haven't mastered the basics. Where that point is depends on each child, but computers can be and in fact are misused by some to harm others, and certainly cell phones too which is why I believe their use in schools must be strictly controlled and that the school system must ensure that the students understand the basics before using technology. They maybe someone can give me correct change without needing a calculator or needing me to tell them how much change I should be getting back.

shiftless88

You are conflating two concepts. The use of computers in school is not the same as youtube, facebook, TikTok and such. And cell phones that pump this to us 24/7. One can have technology in school without the other aspects.

gabrielshorn2013

Agreed to a point shiftless. However, use of technology in the classroom must not supplant actual teaching and learning. Take MD1776's example of calculators. I was absolutely shocked that my kids were being taught what buttons to push on their TI-84, rather than the actual mathematical concepts, and mastering them. The textbooks also provided the sequence of buttons to push when solving the problems. My spouse and I strongly disagreed with this practice, reinforcing the mastery of mathematical concepts at home, and the kids sailed through their math courses, only using the calculator to confirm their answers. Too many kids were stuck trying to figure out what buttons to push. That should be the place for such technologies; support learning, and not as the basis of knowledge. It also seems that in the pursuit of grading tests quickly and getting the results back as quickly as possible, kids learn how to recognize the correct answer when they see it, rather than deriving the answer themselves. As for social media and online gaming, It's designed to be addictive, and the "tech companies" know it. We are now at their "Big Tobacco" moment with the recent congressional testimony.

shiftless88

Gabe; I agree completely. On a side note, I have been asked to speak to some high school science classes and what I have talked about is estimation. How to make a quick estimate to make sure the number you came up with is reasonable. Estimating calculations but also thinking about how to estimate quantities (diameter of the earth was an example) based on what else you know in general.

MD1756

Correct gabrielshorn. How many times have you given cash at the register and the person can't make proper change? If something cost $1.07 and you give them $1.12 they get all confused. They know what buttons to push on a calculator to get the answer but can't figure it out in their head

Shiftless, I'm not conflating anything. Computers given to students for school work can be misused for social media. cell phones given to children by parents can be misused. Computers given to students can be used in an improper way for teaching the concepts as gabrielshorn has pointed out. There are multiple issues. Technology can be used but it has to be done correctly and at too early an age I wonder if the system is not teaching the wrong thing again as gabrielshorn has pointed out with an example. see: https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/using-technology-early-childhood-classroom/ for a good discussion. Here is an interesting study for the effectiveness of 1:1 computer use: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1117604.pdf and here is an article on students misusing technology https://readrelevant.com/2019/03/15/what-to-do-when-students-abuse-technology/ Is anyone going to take a serious position that school issued technology is not used in inappropriate ways (i.e., cyber bullying e-mails)?

phydeaux994

Kids have been using calculators and computers in school for decades now and I just see them getting smarter and better adapted to the real World than you seem to be. I had to laugh, our 8th grade granddaughter said her older computer teacher didn’t have a clue how to set up Zoom classes or use PowerPoint presentations when virtual teaching started. In fact, that was a major factor with older teachers uninformed on the latest software.

public-redux

Even though I was quantitatively astute, I didn’t really understand logarithms until I could manipulate them on a computer. Then my reaction was,”how obvious”.

mrnatural1

"We are now at their "Big Tobacco" moment with the recent congressional testimony."

Great line!

I am also shocked that kids are not learning at least basic math. That's pathetic.

Carroll County public schools taught traditional 'use your brain' math in the 1970s, but when it came to calculus it was pretty much plug the numbers into the formulas. If you could recognize the type of problem it was (min/max, etc), you were good.

That was very little help at the college level though. They used the exact same textbook we had at SCHS, but they expected students to be able to actually derive the formulas. Ruh-roh.

If that's still the case, kids punching numbers on a keypad in FCPS are in for a rude awakening.

Crab0721

I don't think that technology has anything to do with kids depression! You need to look at what they are dealing with in everyday life. Parents are not allowed to discipline their children as generations before. Also look at what they are doing at school everything is done by technology. So obviously kids will need to be able to learn how to use it. Parents have a lot of influence on how their children behave and how they treat others. Middle and High School has not changed at all since I attended over 25 years ago. You still have bullying and the groups of people who think that they are the best. They make fun of others for their clothes and their Hair and so on. Well they probably got it from their parents because they do the same thing. They judge people by their wallets or where they live instead of by the person itself. So if they are looking at what other people are doing online then they are going to be thinking that it is fine for them to do these things. Parents need to have more control over their children's technology. I can honestly say that I am very bad at keeping up with my child's technology. However if I were to find out that she was involved in a something that was upsetting someone I would appreciate someone telling me about it because I would definitely not take it likely. I don't tolerate that kind of stuff.

jth7100

"I can honestly say that I am very bad at keeping up with my child's technology." That helps explain the rest of your post. School has not changed in the last 25 years? Good luck!

NewMarketParent

@Crab0721

Parents can still discipline their kids. Collectively, psychologists have conducted research and saying that violent reinforcement is bad for development and attempted to help get us new tools to raise better kids.

People from our generation didn't wear helmets nor seatbelts and I am reasonably sure that quite a few people on these forums have taken quite a few head injuries. Also, we just collectively figured out the damage that having lead in everything damages children's development as well (which is also correlated with high amounts of violence). This isn't the place to completely crap on technology and new information because we don't understand it. Might as well put a chair on your porch and yell at the kids to get off of your lawn.

Let's not act like the past was always the best. We have better tools and information now, we need to use them better.

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