Washington's latest act on gaming

Do violent videogames make kids more violent or cause other problems?

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) thinks they may and has introduced legislation along with three other senators designed to find the answers.

On Wednesday afternoon, Clinton joined Sens. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) to introduce the Children and Media Research Advancement Act, authorizing $100 million over five years for research into the effects of viewing and using a range of media — primarily television, computer games and the Internet — on children’s cognitive, social, physical and psychological development.

In remarks Wednesday morning before the Kaiser Family Foundation, which released a report on children’s use of media, the former first lady said federally funded research is needed to determine the impact of such exposure.

“Kids are exposed to so much more media today, and so much of the content today is so overwhelmingly and astoundingly violent, its effect is different than in the past,” Clinton said. According to the Kaiser report, kids ages 8-18 are spending 6.5 hours a day consuming media, often “media-multitasking” — using more than one medium at the same time.

“The development of our nation’s children is vital, and understanding the way in which media impacts their ability to grow and develop is imperative,” said Brownback in a statement.

In her remarks before the foundation, Clinton described violent content as a “silent epidemic” that’s worsening. She singled out the game “Grand Theft Auto” as a particular cause for parental concern. “I hear a lot of complaints about it. To a lot of parents, it’s very frightening. It’s one thing to say that you need to talk to your kids about what they’re watching and what they’re playing. … But here you have a game that encourages kids to have sex with prostitutes and then murder them. It’s hard to even know what to say. Where do you start?”

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