Since last Friday's tragic school shooting in Connecticut, increased attention
on violence in video games has begun to work its way into the US Senate. This week, Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) proposed a bill directing the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to study the effects of violent video games on children.
According to a draft proposal of the bill obtained by Politico
, Rockefeller wants the NAS to specifically look at whether exposure to violent games "causes children to act aggressively or causes other measurable cognitive harmto children; has a disproportionately harmful effect on children already prone to aggressive behavior; and has a harmful effect that is distinguishable from any negative effects produced by other types of media." The bill further aims to determine whether any potential effects are long-lasting. The study would look at "video programming" in general, presumably covering TV and movies in the same rubric, but the bill also seeks to find out whether "video games' interactive nature and the extraordinarily personal and vivid way violence might be portrayed in such video games" makes the medium "unique."
Existing studies have yielded inconclusive and polarizing results regarding the impact of violent gameplay on children's behavior. While some researchers claim
to see statistically significant increases in aggressive behavior and decreased prosocial behavior among child gamers across the literature, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that "any demonstrated effects are both small and indistinguishable from effects produced by other media" inalandmark ruling
granting video games full First Amendment protections last year.
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