Senators ask NIH if people are becoming addicted to technology

Senators ask NIH if people are becoming addicted to technology
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Two Democratic lawmakers are asking the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for information on whether people, particularly children, are becoming addicted to technology.

“To address the open question of whether we are addicted to technological devices and platforms, Congress must understand the current scientific consensus, potential gaps in research, and the best way to build a body of evidence that can inform effective policymaking,” wrote Sens. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzDemocratic senator: Trump Jr. meeting with Gulf emissary 'absolutely crazy' Hillicon Valley: Senate votes to save net neutrality | Senate panel breaks with House, says Russia favored Trump in 2016 | Latest from Cambridge Analytica whistleblower | Lawmakers push back on helping Chinese tech giant Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump official won't OK lifetime limits on Medicaid MORE (D-Hawaii) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetGOP, Dem lawmakers come together for McCain documentary Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump official won't OK lifetime limits on Medicaid Hillicon Valley: White House eliminates top cyber post | Trump order looks to bolster agency CIOs | Facebook sees spike in violent content | Senators push NIH on tech addiction | House to get election security briefing MORE (D-Colo.) in a letter sent Tuesday to the NIH.

A study last year from Common Sense Media showed children under the age of 8 spend an average of 48 minutes per day viewing the screen of a mobile device, up from 15 minutes per day just five years ago.

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The senators are asking for a briefing from the NIH and written responses to questions, including “is there consensus in the scientific community on whether our society is becoming addicted to technology?”

“We are particularly concerned about technology’s negative consequences on the development of children and adolescents,” the senators write. “Past studies from academia and nonprofit organizations show that technology-driven stress leads to depression, lack of focus, sleep deprivation, and fragmented communities.”

They also call on technology companies to “engage in this national dialogue” and provide researchers the data they need.