WASHINGTON DC: Screen media and their effects on US children will come under scrutiny following the passing of a bill by the Senate to establish a research program on kids' cognitive, social and physical development.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Academy of Sciences will hand out grants, look at existing studies and set new research priorities to gauge the effects of television, computers and video games.

Advocacy group, the Kaiser Family Foundation, revealed earlier this year that children aged between two and 18 were spending an average of 5.5 hours each day with media.

Comments Senator Joseph Lieberman, one of the sponsors of the bill: "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."

The legislation comes amid increasing pressure on TV broadcasters to curb perceived indecency on screen, while food advertisers are being urged to rein in marketing suspected of contributing to the nation's childhood obesity epidemic.

Data sourced from Adweek (USA); additional content by WARC staff