Senator Jay Rockefeller today released the following statement on the role of violence in video games and his introduction of legislation to study the impact of violent content, including video games and video programming, on children.
"This week, we are all focused on protecting our children. At times like this, we need to take a comprehensive look at all the ways we can keep our kids safe. I have long expressed concern about the impact of the violent content our kids see and interact with every day.
"As Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, I have introduced legislation to direct the National Academy of Sciences to investigate the impact of violent video games and other content on children's well-being.
"Recent court decisions demonstrate that some people still do not get it. 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 to me in passing this important legislation quickly.
"Separately, I will be calling on the Federal Trade Commission and the 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. Changes in technology now allow kids to access violent content on-line with less parental involvement. It is time for these two agencies to take a fresh look at these issues.
"Major corporations, including the video game industry, make billions on marketing and selling violent content to children. They have a responsibility to protect our children. If they do not, you can count on the Congress to take a more aggressive role."
The bill would accomplish the following:
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) would be directed to conduct a comprehensive study and investigation of the connection between violent video games and violent video programming and harmful effects on children.
Specifically, NAS would examine whether violent video games/programming cause kids to act aggressively or otherwise hurt their wellbeing, and whether that effect is distinguishable from other types of media. It also would look at the direct and long-lasting impact of violent content on a child's well-being.
With respect to violent video games, NAS must look at whether current or emerging aspects of games, like their interactive nature and the personal and vivid way violence is portrayed, have a unique impact on kids.
NAS must submit a report on its investigation within 18 months to Congress as well as to the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.