Democratic West Virginia senator Jay Rockefeller has introduced a bill to congress that would task the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to study the effects of violent video games and other programs on children.
The measure comes less than a week after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. that left 20 children and six adults dead.
“Major corporations, including the video game industry, make billions on marketing and selling violent content to children,” Rockefeller said in a statement to his website. “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 direct the NAS to conduct a “comprehensive study and investigation” of the link between violent games and other violent video programming and harmful effects on children. More specifically, the NAS would be charged with looking into whether or not video games/programming cause children to act aggressively or “otherwise hurt their wellbeing,” and if so, determine if that effect is notably distinguishable from other types of media.
This study would also 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,” the statement reads.
Separately, Rockefeller said he will call on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to further their work in this area. “Changes in technology now allow kids to access violent content online with less parental involvement. It is time for these two agencies to take a fresh look at these issues,” he said.
If the bill passes, NAS must submit a report on its study within 18 months to Congress as well as the FTC and FCC.