In the wake of a school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 26 children and adults dead, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., is introducing legislation to study the affect violent video games have on children.
Rockefeller joins a chorus of lawmakers across the country who want to see tighter restrictions on guns, a ban on assault weapons and studies looking at violence in the media. Rockefeller said he has long been concerned about violent content children are exposed to via television, movies and video games.
"Recent court decisions demonstrate that some people still do not get it," he said in a statement. "They believe that violent video games are no more dangerous to young minds than classic literature or Saturday morning cartoons. Parents, pediatricians and psychologists know better. These court decisions show we need to do more and explore ways Congress can lay additional groundwork on this issue. This report will be a critical resource in this process. I call on my colleagues to join me in passing this important legislation quickly."
The bill would direct the National Academy of Sciences to investigate the affect violent video games and other content have on children's well-being. Rockefeller also is calling on the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission to "expand their work in this area."
"The FTC has reviewed the effectiveness of the video game ratings system. The FCC has looked at the impact of violent programming on children," Rockefeller said. "Changes in technology now allow kids access to violent content online with less parental involvement. It is time for these two agencies to take a fresh look at these issues."
Not only would NAS be charged with conducting this study, but the organization also would be tasked with examining whether violent video games and programming cause children to act aggressively and if that effect is distinguishable from other types of media. It also would look at the direct and long-lasting affect of violent content on a child's well-being.
The NAS also must look at whether current or emerging aspects of games, such as their interactive nature and the "personal and vivid way violence is portrayed" have a unique affect on kids.
If the bill is passed, the NAS will have 18 months to submit a report to Congress, the FTC and FCC.