Rockefeller Introduces Violence Research Bill

As promised, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) has re-introduced a bill, actually at this stage a discussion draft of a bill, directing the National Academy of Sciences to study the impact of violent video games and violent video programming on children and figure out if there is a causal connection between either and real-world violence.

After the Newtown shootings, Rockefeller said he would push for the bill, the Violent Content Research Act of 2013. The Senator has been one of the most consistent voice in Congress sounding an alarm about the impact of media, particularly violence, on children.

"We need comprehensive policies to fully protect our communities. This study is an important element of this approach." Rockefeller said in a statement. "I've been working closely with Senate leadership and my colleagues to make sure that research like this is a priority, and I'm glad that the President's plan includes additional research into the link between violent content and children's behavior."

The bill directs the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a comprehensive study of whether violent video games and video programming have a harmful effect on kids, including causing them to be aggressive and causing already aggressive kids even moreso and whether that harm is distinguishable from the "negative affects" of any other type of media, which suggested the study would have to extend to movies, books and other entertainment.

Rockefeller also wants to know whether the negative impact, if there is one, is long-lasting and whether video games have a unique impact due to their interactivity and "the extraordinarily personal and vivid way violence might be portrayed in such video games."

The report will be due 15 months after the FCC, Federal Trade Commission and DHS have arranged for the studies.

Rockefeller introduced the bill the same day Vice President Joe Biden said the President believed "very strongly" that such research is needed. His violence initiative includes funding violence studies by the CDC and the National Institutes of Health.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.