Children and Screens Petitions the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to Research the Effects of Screen Media Habits on Children’s Health


From the perspective of environmental exposure, there is no greater influence on children today than digital media. With preliminary data suggesting links between screen media exposure and negative mental health outcomes, cortical thinning, behavioral addictions, and more, there is a vital need for new research to better understand and modulate childrens media usage so they enjoy its benefits and avoid its harms.

Given these concerns, Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development is petitioning The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to include the effects of screen media habits on childrens health to its list of research priorities for the next five years. While NICHDs published list of priorities includes digital medias influence with respect to sensitive periods and transitions from adolescence to adulthood, this by no means captures the full scope or depth of medias impact, which existing research suggests may lead to anxiety and depression, violent behavior, cyberbullying, sexualization, and more.

The benefits of digital media for children and adolescents include educational resources, opportunities for social and emotional development, access to resources for underserved populations, and platforms for creativity. Parents, educators, community leaders, and healthcare providers are generally aware of the negative effects media habits have on the lives of children, but these stakeholders lack the necessary information to recognize problematic use and foster healthy media habits More comprehensive and longitudinal interdisciplinary research is needed to illuminate a healthy media diet for youth at all stages of development. As NICHD formulates its strategic plan for 2020-2024, more than 240 leading experts have signed the Children and Screens petition imploring the organization to add the effects of screen media to its list of research priorities. Signatories include JAMA Pediatrics editor-in-chief Dimitri A. Christakis, M.D., M.P.H., leading Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Paul Weigle, M.D., preeminent scholar of the role of media in childrens development Ellen Wartella, Ph.D., and many more.

View the petition here:

About Children and Screens

Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development is a 501C(3) national non-profit organization founded by Dr. Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra, who has spent her career in public service ranging from non-profit development, medicine and philanthropy devoted to children and adolescents. She started Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development in 2013 to provide a forum for researchers, clinicians, and other experts from a wide variety of disciplines to meet, collaborate, and share research; advance funding in the study of digital medias effects on children; and provide parents and educators with the resources and answers they need to raise happy and healthy children in the digital age.

Children and Screens:
Dr. Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra
[email protected]