The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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January 29, 2013

Rockefeller renews effort to study impact of violent media

While he is on board with the Obama administration in seeking to disallow semi-automatic firearms, Sen. Jay Rockefeller says another ingredient in the anti-violence recipe cannot be ignored — the grisly content of movies, games and Internet sources.

Toward that goal, Rockefeller has reintroduced his bill that would compel the National Academy of Sciences to study the effects of such entertainment fare, including video games, on children.

“Fully examining how violence in the media and video games affects our children’s well-being, as this bill would do, will help make sure Congress is doing everything it can to address violence in our communities,” Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said Tuesday.

Rockefeller is no stranger to seeking such answers and launched his campaign to see how violent media fare impacts impressionable young minds long before the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that left 26 people dead — 20 of them children — in Newtown, Conn.

“Throughout my career, I have strongly supported this kind of research to better inform our work on violent acts, and I will push for this bill to be part of any comprehensive plan to improve protections against gun violence and safeguard our children,” the senator said.

“I’ve been working closely with my colleagues to see to it 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.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, also D-W.Va., likewise is on record in wanting to explore the negative impacts of media violence — from Hollywood films to Internet sources — in a proposed commission to study all aspects of mass public violence, such as the theater shooting in Colorado and the carnage at Sandy Hook.

Rockefeller wants NAS specifically to ascertain if violent videos prompt aggressive behavior.

“It also would look at the direct and long-lasting impact of violent content on a child’s well-being,” he said.

“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.”

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