Violent Video Games & Our Children

(A Time to Act)
April 20, 2007

The world is in shock and saddened by the events that occurred on the campus of Virginia Tech University last week. As a parent, I cannot imagine the sadness that families and loved ones of the victims are enduring. My prayers are with all of them as they deal with this senseless tragedy.

In the wake of this violent rampage, there are numerous theories as to what led the killer down this destructive path. Some speculate that graphic violence in our movie theatres, televisions, and video games have had some impact on those who choose to commit violent acts, such as this one or at Columbine High School.

In 2003, I first introduced legislation to increase parental awareness and keep violent video games out of the hands of our children. I have reintroduced this bill every year since, and I am now more optimistic than ever that New York State may finally be in reach of having a law on the books on this subject.

This past week, Governor Eliot Spitzer announced in Albany that this is one of his legislative priorities for 2007. I personally called Governor Spitzer and extended my willingness to work in a bi-partisan manner to accomplish this goal.

Unfortunately, there are many adults who allow children to play violent video games out of indifference, ignorance or both. That is why this legislation is so important. In the interests of the children of our great state, we must do whatever we can to educate the public about the content of games such as “Grand Theft Auto, Counter Strike, and Gang Wars,” just to name a few.

I have proposed legislation, A.2787, which prohibits the sale of explicit and violent video games to minors and requires sufficient labeling on these products. This legislation does not ban the sale, rental or use of violent and explicit video games, rather it would put into state law the practices already implemented by most game manufacturers and retailers, as an attempt to universalize efforts to protect children from adult content. By doing this we give parents and guardians a tool that will ensure children are exposed only to those things in video games that parents find suitable.

I encourage you to contact other legislators and the governor through letters, e-mail and telephone to support this measure. Our children are already exposed to too much violence, and while not all of it is from video games, they certainly contribute to the problem.