Senator Jay Rockefeller (D – West Virginia) has introduced a bill that would have the U.S. National Academy of Sciences study how video games and other media like films and television affect children. The bill would also expand studies already conducted by the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission.
Rockefeller's bill comes on the heels of the shootings last Friday at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut where 20 children and six adults were killed by a lone gunman. Under the bill, the National Academy of Sciences would have 18 months to investigate and file a report to Congress, the FTC, and FCC.
"Major corporations, including the video game industry, make billions on marketing and selling violent content to children," Rockefeller said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg's Business Week. "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 Center for Digital Democracy is backing Rockefeller's bill:
"We need to gather the scientific evidence to better determine what impacts immersive shoot-em-up interactive games have shaping the psycho-social development of our children, including whether they become desensitized to violence," Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a Washington-based group, said in an e-mail.
Common Sense Media, a long-time opponent of video games, also backs the measure:
"While to date we’ve seen studies that touch on the correlation between video-game violence and aggression, more conclusive research from objective sources is desperately needed to fully understand these effects," said James Steyer, chief executive officer and founder of Common Sense Media.
We'll have more on this bill as more information becomes available.