Connecticut Lawmaker Calls For Taxes, Warning Labels On M-Rated Games

Debralee Hovey

Connecticut State Representative DebraLee Hovey says “countless studies” have proven that violent video games provoke aggressive and violent behavior, particularly among children and teenagers.

Last year, in the wake of the mass murder at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, State Representative DebraLee Hovey proposed a new tax on all M-rated video games. The surcharge, a whopping ten percent, would go to the state’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, “to educate families on the warning signs of video game addiction and antisocial behavior.”

The proposed law was not passed, but Hovey isn’t giving up. In a recently-penned opinion piece posted on the Connecticut House Republicans website, she wrote that making it harder to buy guns and high-capacity magazines won’t change the “endemic culture of violence” in the U.S., and said that mandating warning labels on M-rated games and applying extra taxes to them is the “obvious” way to protect society from violence.

“Countless studies, including a recent 2014 piece out of Iowa State University, have attributed the playing of violent video games with noticeable increases – in both frequency and severity – of aggressive behavior. This is true particularly among children and teens. According to that same study, more than 90% of video games rated E10+ or higher contain violent content, which is often justified and portrayed as ‘fun’,” she wrote. “Moreover, it is now common knowledge that Adam Lanza was known to play these violent video games for hours a day. If we can educate consumers about mature video games as violent behavior triggers, and put more resources into researching contributing factors of violent behavior, why wouldn’t we?”

Hovey described her proposed measures as being similar to warning pregnant women about the dangers of alcohol, and said she was disheartened that the bill did not pass. She’s now calling upon supporters to “spread the word about the harmful impact of violent video game play across Connecticut.”

“The science is clear and overwhelming; the playing of violent video games by children and teens does lead to observable behavior changes. That same study from Iowa State University showed that ‘habitual violent video game play increases long term aggressive behavior’ and this increase occurs ‘regardless of sex, age, initial aggressiveness, and parental involvement.’ That means even children with no previous signs of violent tendencies were shown to have an increased incidence of such behavior after prolonged violent video game play,” she wrote. “An additional 2004 study concluded that adolescents who play violent video games for extended periods of time are often more aggressive, more confrontational with teachers and adults, and more likely to engage in fights with peers. Violent video game play does not only impact the behavior of children with preexisting behavioral issues, but the behavior of all children.”

It’s not clear whether Hovey intends to pursue the issue through further legislation but her assertions aside, the science is demonstrably not “clear and overwhelming.”In fact, the final report on the Sandy Hook mass murder found no connection between the shooting and violent video games. We’ve reached out to Rep. Hovey for comment and will update if we receive a response.

Source: Connecticut House Republicans

About the author