Senate panel votes to study video game violence

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"I strongly believe that we need to address all components of gun violence if we have a fighting chance at protecting our families and communities," Rockefeller said. "This includes studying the levels of violence in the video games our children play and the media they watch."

Rockefeller's bill, the Violent Content Research Act, 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 of video games has a unique impact on children.

The courts have beaten back attempts to regulate violent media on the grounds that they infringe on free speech rights. In 2011, the Supreme Court overturned a California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors.

"Recent court decisions have shown that we need to do more so that Congress can lay additional groundwork on this issue," Rockefeller said. 

In a joint statement, the lobbying groups for the movie and cable TV industries said they "welcome further academic examination of the reasons behind societal violence."

"Our industries have a longstanding commitment to providing parents with the resources, education and tools they need to make appropriate family viewing and entertainment decisions," the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and the Motion Picture Association of America said.