The United States Senate yesterday passed S1902, the Children and Media Research Advancement Act (CAMRA).
The bi-partisan legislation was proposed last October by Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) along with Sens. Clinton (D-NY), Brownback (R-KS), Santorum (R-PA), Bayh (D-IN), Enzi (R-WY) and Durbin (D-IL).
As reported by AdWeek, CAMRA mandates the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and National Academy of Sciences to establish a research program that will examine the impact of media on the social, cognitive and physical development of children.
"No one is looking out, in a systematic way," said Lieberman, "for the cumulative impact of today's newer electronic media on our children. The questions about the effects - positive or negative - of media on our children's health, education and development are too important to go unasked and unanswered."
CAMRA-funded research will focus on the effects of electronic media including T.V., computers, video games and the Internet. Studies would examine factors such as the media format, length of exposure, age of users, degree of parental involvement, and the venue in which media is used.
A 2005 report issued by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that, especially in regard to very young children, there is no solid research data concerning the effects of media consumption. CAMRA enjoys support from child advocacy groups such as the Children's Digital Media Center, the Center for Media and Child Health at Harvard University Medical School, Children Now, the American Psychological Association, Common Sense Media and the Parents Television Council.
As previously reported by GamePolitics, Marv Johnson, legislative counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) expressed concern that study results might be used to justify media content legislation. "Down the road when - if there is some sort of finding that there is harm in this - then we're going to see calls to regulate speech because of the potential harm. That's where there's going to be a problem."
A similar House bill introduced by Rep. Edward Markey, (D-MA) has yet to pass.
GP: It's hard to argue with the scientific quest for knowledge. Hopefully, CAMRA-funded research will resolve some of the hotly-debated issues surrounding children and video games.