Sen. Rockefeller introduces bill to study effect of video-game violence on children

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) introduced a bill late Tuesday that would require the National Academy of Sciences to study the impact of violent video games and other content on children.

Rockefeller, chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said the bill would lay the groundwork for Congress to consider new regulations of violent entertainment content.

ADVERTISEMENT
“Major corporations, including the video game industry, make billions on marketing and selling violent content to children," Rockefeller said. "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 issue of violence in video games has attracted more attention after a gunman killed 26 people in an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., last week, before taking his own life.

Rockefeller's bill would require the National Academy of Sciences to examine whether violent video games and programming cause children to act aggressively or otherwise hurt their well-being.

The academy would look at whether the interactive nature and vivid way violence is portrayed in video games has a unique impact on children.

In a statement, Rockefeller also called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to expand their work in overseeing violent content. 

The FTC has reviewed the video game industry's voluntary rating system, and the FCC has looked into the impact of violent programming on children, Rockefeller noted.

California banned the sale of violent video games to minors, but the Supreme Court struck down the law in 2011, ruling that it violated the First Amendment's free speech protections.

Rockefeller said 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," Rockefeller said.