Senators aim at vidgames with CDC study

CAMRA would look at 'impact of electronic media use'

WASHINGTON — A quartet of senators has moved one step closer to putting the videogame industry in the crosshairs of a federally funded study that is likely a prelude to governmental attempts to regulate.

Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) and Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) persuaded the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions to approve the Children & Media Research Advancement Act (CAMRA), which calls for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to conduct a detailed study of the “impact of electronic media use” on children.

Media to be studied include television, computers and Internet as well as vidgames, but the last will be a key focus given the four solons’ long record of criticizing vidgame manufacturers for exposing kids to violent and sexual content.

Clinton, for example, has been particularly hostile toward the industry, having once said it is “stealing the innocence of our children” and that kids’ ability to access “pornographic and outrageously violent material on videogames rated for adults is spiraling out of control.” Lieberman led the congressional charge to force the industry to develop and adopt a ratings system.

Over the last two years, state and local authorities have tried to enact laws restricting sales of vidgames to children, but federal judges have tossed them out as unconstitutional. Even some child advocates have acknowledged that not enough is known about the effects of certain media on children to justify such restrictions.

Both Clinton and Lieberman support restrictions on marketing vidgames to kids.

According to a joint statement issued by the senators, CAMRA “directs CDC to contract with the National Academy of Science to examine the role and the effects, both positive and negative, that electronic media have in the lives of children, and to set research priorities. The CDC will then issue grants over a period of six years to researchers to examine the impact of media on children’s and adolescents’ ability to learn and their social, emotional, physical and behavioral development.”

“As parents and policymakers, we need to better understand the effect of the constant barrage of media on our children,” Clinton said in a statement. “Our children are growing up immersed in interactive, digital and wireless media that is constantly changing. We need better, more current research to study the impact of the new media dominating our kids’ lives, and we need to make sure our research keeps up with the times as technology continues to advance.”

CAMRA is not yet skedded for a full Senate vote.