Senator Jay Rockefeller Introduces Bill to Study How Violent Video Games Affect Children

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.

Source: Bloomberg's Business Week, Image via Flickr.

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  1. Kal says:

    The study, if it passes, will find no conclusive evidence. However, there will be a tiny sliver of something that looks vaguely like proof, and Congress, who has already determined the outcome they want to see, will take it as proof positive that video games cause violent behavior.

  2. greevar says:

    Jay Rockefeller, one of the dynastic families that owns the American people like so much cattle, is going to call for a study on the effects of violent games on children? That makes me shake my head. That son of a bitch, his family, and his family's business friends are the cause of all our socioeconomic problems today. People like him should be dethroned for the civil abuses they've forced on us over the past century and a half.

  3. Coffeya says:

    "They have a responsibility to protect our children. If they do not, you can count on the Congress to take a more aggressive role."


    Oh really, then why would you allow companies to have more freedom to regulate their own food that our children are eating?  I smell bullshit.  No really, I smell shit in my beef!




  4. black manta says:

    And like other similar bills before it, it is very likely that this too will go nowhere; especially since SCOTUS ruled in Brown Vs. EMA that games were in effect protected speech.  So there's very little now that can be done beyond current regulation to censor them.

    Also since it seems the the dialogue on these tragedies has since shifted its emphasis to gun control and (finally!) mental healthcare, and that the politicians will subseqeuntly be called to focus more of their attention on those issues, I don't think Rockefeller's bill is going to get much traction in the Senate.

    And even if, by some miracle, it does make it through the Senate and gets passed, what then?  Like Thomas Riordan said, there's would be very little at this point that could be done.  And there are more than enough studies now that debunk the idea that violent video games cause violence to counter the ones that say otherwise.  Even if the Academy gets to do their study and finds some kind of positive proof, I think it would have very little if any impact.

  5. Wymorence says:

    I always thought it was up to the parents to protect the children… Ah well, time to leave any future kids I have with Activision so I can go to a concert or something!

  6. bluelightrevival says:

    "They have a responsibility to protect our children. If they do not, you can count on the Congress to take a more aggressive role."


    Seems they already made up there minds about it, So whats the point in doing the study.

  7. ecco6t9 says:

    This is why we need term limits on the House and Senate. You end up with out of touch politicians who would of been in his mid 30's when Pong first came out.

  8. Neeneko says:

    They will keep beating it till some other more politically advantageous target comes up.

    While it is tempting to blame the politicians (and they are not automatons and thus do indeed deserve some)… they do stuff like this because it gets them either votes or money (which results in votes)…. so until that incentive is gone they will continue.

  9. Thomas Riordan says:

    The horse isn't dead until you dig it up, revive it, beat it some more, rape it, and then beat it to death again. In this case that has happened a few thousand times by now.

  10. Zerodash says:

    How much longer are we going to beat this dead horse?  Another bill by another nanny-state politician.  We've had these studies before, and we know how they turned out.  Are they just going to keep trying until they get one that says what they want it to say?  


  11. Thomas Riordan says:

    Lack of Common Sense Media is backing it so you know it's bullshit. It's also bullshit that the entertainment industry needs to take responsibility for something that isn't their problem. Violent games are M rated, they are not being marketed and sold to children. Consoles have parental controls to prevent them from being played by children. What more can they possibily do? Stand behind your child 24/7 and make sure they're only playing what they're supposed to be playing. That's the parent's job when they choose to actually like do it. Even if the entertainment industry was doing more to prevent violent content from being marketed to children it wouldn't have prevented Sandy Hook to begin with because he wasn't a child. How about putting the blame on the crazy asshole with the gun and the things that allowed him to have access to semi-automatic weapons because I'm pretty sure it's incredibly difficult to kill 28 people with a video game compared to a tool that has only one purpose; to kill. But we'll waste a few billion tax payer dollars to worry about a non-issue and continue be nothing more than an old man screaming at kids to get off his lawn because I'm too stupid to understand anything anymore. The study is going to say whatever the men holding you leash want it to say. Since the RIAA/MPAA mafia is holding the leash at the moment this isn't even going to be an issue either.

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