Rockefeller bringing back violent content study bill


Jay RockefellerIn the wake of President Barack Obama’s sweeping effort to address gun violence, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is re-introducing a bill instructing the National Academy of Sciences to study the impact of violent content on children.

Rockefeller applauded Obama’s initiatives, and added, “I think everyone can agree that the impact of violent content on our kids’ wellbeing is an important issue, and I’m glad this new plan will take a close look at it.  I am working hard in the Senate to make sure this type of research – which I have strongly backed throughout my career – is available to inform our work on gun violence.  Next week, I plan to reintroduce my bill to have the National Academy of Sciences study the link between violent content and children’s behavior.”

From Rockefeller, here are the elements he will include in his bill:

* The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) would be directed to conduct a comprehensive study and investigation of the connection between violent video games and violent video programming and harmful effects on children.

* Specifically, NAS would examine whether violent video games/programming cause kids to act aggressively or otherwise hurt their wellbeing, and whether that effect is distinguishable from other types of media.  It also would 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.

* NAS must submit a report on its investigation to Congress as well as to the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.

RBR-TVBR observation: Study away – we’re all for it. Please, however, be mindful of the challenges of such a study. The fact is, most of us have seen the content in question all of our lives and it has not made us violent people.

Even if it is found that there is a meaningful link between violent content and violent people, there is the chicken-egg thing – does violent content create violent people, or are already-violent people drawn to the content?

Study it – but do not let it become a substitute for studying what we believe to be far more direct topics – gun issues and mental health issues.