Four lawmakers in Georgia submitted a bill yesterday that would make it a criminal offense to sell or furnish violent interactive video games to minors. The bill, known as the Violent Video Game Protection Act, would make it a misdemeanor offense to sell games that contain depictions of graphic violence as determined by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) to anyone under 18. Many retailers already take measures to ensure that violent games are not sold to children, but this has been a voluntary enforcement of the electronic entertainment industry's self-regulation.
The bill states that "violent crime is a serious and persistent problem in our society, especially among our youth," and it connects this observation to video games in the following excerpt: "As confirmed by current scientific data, the repeated exposure to graphic violence and participation in violent interactive games may contribute to violent behavior by our youth and desensitizes them to acts of violence." No specific sources for the scientific data are listed in the bill.
One of the more recent studies on the relationship between media violence and violent behavior in children was released by the US surgeon general last February. That report found that "violent behavior seldom results from a single cause" and that media violence "is best viewed as one of the many potential factors that help to shape behavior."
We'll post more information on the status of the bill as it becomes available. To read the full text of the bill, visit the Georgia General Assembly Web site.