Connecticut lawmaker DebraLee Hovey, whose district includes Newtown, has written a new opinion piece in which she claims playing violent video games leads to "observable behavioral changes." Also in this piece, she calls for violent games to carry extra warning labels and be taxed in the state.
This isn't the first time Hovey has rallied for increased awareness of violent video games. Following the Sandy Hook massacre, Hovey (R-112nd District) put forth a bill that would have enacted a excise tax for violent video games. This bill did not pass, but Hovey isn't giving up.
"I am disheartened this bill did not pass," she wrote. "Assuming Connecticut lawmakers are truly serious about changing the culture of violence in our state, taxing violent video games is a common sense start to achieving this goal."
The Entertainment Software Rating Board already provides ratings for video games, but Hovey says if mature-rated games carried an "extra warning label," and if there was an extra tax applied to such games, "a parent might think twice before purchasing that game for their young child."
Hovey says educating parents about the potential mental health implications to their children from playing violent video games is "as common sense as warning pregnant women about the dangers of drinking alcohol."
"If the children, teens, and adults who play these games (alike) were aware of the risks of violent video game play, they could moderate their exposure to such play and seek help if needed," she said.
Hovey goes on to say that numerous studies, including recently published research from Iowa State University, point out that playing violent video games can lead to noticeable increases in the frequency and severity of aggressive behavior.
Hovey points out that the Sandy Hook shooter was "known to play these violent video games for hours a day." Indeed, a game called "School Shooting" was discovered on his computer. However, numerous other non-violent games were found in his residence, including Super Mario Bros. and Dance Dance Revolution.
Still, Hovey said, "The science is clear and overwhelming; the playing of violent video games by children and teens does lead to observable behavior changes." Citing data from the Iowa State study, Hovey adds that even children with no previous signs of violent tendencies were likely to show signs of increased aggression after periods of playing violent games.
"It should be the duty of the State of Connecticut to ensure parents and players are aware of this information. Labeling and taxing mature rated video games is an obvious way to achieve this. It is clear that violent video game play alters the psyche of our youth and induces violent behavior," Hovey said.
"Spreading the word about the effects of violent video games brings the issue of aggressive behavior to the general forefront of parent and player minds. Most importantly, recognizing and getting help for individuals who display patterns of violent behavior is a key step in preventing mass acts of violence before they occur," she added. "Therefore, I ask you as a Legislator and fellow citizen, let us work together to eradicate our culture of violence, and let us start with spreading the word about the harmful impact of violent video game play across Connecticut."