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Lawmakers call for close watch on the impact of media on children
By Congressional Desk
October 25, 2005
http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=3201

American young people spend an average of 6  hours with media each day

Washington, D.C. - Young people today are spending an average of 6  
and a half hours with media each day, yet very little is known about  
the effect of television on children's physical development, their  
cognitive development, or their moral values. Today four lawmakers:  
Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), the ranking member on the  
House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet,  
Representative Melissa Hart (R-PA), Representative Joe Baca (D-CA),  
and Representative Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN) introduced the Children and  
Media Research Advancement Act (CAMRA Act) which would create a  
program dedicated to the study of children and the media within the  
Center for Disease Control. The CAMRA Act calls for research on the  
impact of all forms of electronic media, including television,  
movies, DVDs, interactive video games, cell phones, and the Internet  
on children's cognitive, social, emotional, physical, and behavioral  
development.

"The questions about how media affects the development of our  
children are clearly important, abundant, and complex. Unfortunately,  
the answers to these questions are in short supply. Such gaps in our  
knowledge base limit our ability to make informed decisions about  
media policy," said Rep. Markey. "In order to ensure that we are  
doing our very best for our children, today we are introducing the  
CAMRA Act that will provide an overarching view of the impact of the  
media by establishing a program devoted to Children and Media within  
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

Currently, no federal research agency has responsibility for  
overseeing and setting a coherent media research agenda that can  
guide these policy decisions. Instead, Federal agencies fund media  
research in a piecemeal fashion, resulting in a patch work of findings.

Rep. Hart noted that the legislation will allow for a more complete  
picture of how all forms of media, not just television, are  
influencing our children. "The advent of new technologies, such as  
cell phones, video games and audio playback devices present new and  
wide-ranging challenges in understanding how different forms of media  
influence our children. This legislation will provide a more complete  
picture and allow us to draw from comprehensive research as we try to  
understand both the positive and negative impact media is having on  
our children."

<blockquote>

"I am concerned that our children are exposed to media that could  
harm their health and moral development. I fully support having CDC  
conduct research about the effect of new forms of media on our  
families and children," said Rep. Baca, sponsor of the SAFE Rating  
Act (H.R. 1145) to protect children from violent and graphic video  
game content, and chair of the Congressional Sex and Violence in the  
Media Caucus.

"This funding will help us better understand the effects images of  
violence and sex have on the shaping of our children's development,"  
said Rep. Ford. "The media, in all its forms, is a powerful and  
necessary force in our society. Passage of this legislation will be  
viewed as a victory for children, parents and the media."

</blockquote>

This legislation has strong support among researchers and children's  
advocates including Children Now and Common Sense Media. Ted Lempert,  
President of Children Now, a national nonprofit organization which  
has for years has focused on the need for policymakers to keep pace  
with the rising influence of media on children, writes: "CAMRA's  
establishment of a program on children and the media within the  
Center for Disease Control and Prevention will provide invaluable  
insight into the role and impact of electronic media on the  
children's development. Kids are spending more time with media than  
on any other activity except for sleeping, yet there are sizeable  
gaps in what we know about the role media play in children's  
cognitive, physical and behavioral development."

Jim Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, a leading non- 
partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting a healthy  
media environment for children, supports CAMRA, saying "We  
enthusiastically endorse the funding of coherent research which will  
better illuminate the role of media in children's cognitive, social,  
emotional, physical and behavioral development. In an increasingly  
digital world where convergence of technologies provides  
entertainment, information and interactive possibilities to  
consumers, there are discernable knowledge gaps about the role of  
media on children's healthy development."

Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senators  
Lieberman, Brownback, Clinton, Santorum and Durbin.

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For more information on Representative Markey's work to preserve  
quality children's television, check out http://www.house.gov/markey/