Connecticut Lawmaker Calls for Warning Labels, Sin Tax on Video Games (Again)

May 2, 2014 - GamePolitics Staff

Connecticut state lawmaker DebraLee Hovey (R) has penned a lengthy editorial calling for warning labels on video games and for a sin tax to be levied against interactive entertainment products rated "M" by the ESRB. This is the second time Hovey has called for a sin tax on video games in the state, though her last effort failed to get passed by CT lawmakers.

In her editorial she laments that her bill to tax video games in the wake of the Newtown shooting did not manage to pass, and renews her call for taxes and warning labels on games.

She also cites recent research from Ohio State University as definitive proof that video games cause "observable behavioral changes." She goes on to say, that by raising awareness on the effects that video games can have on people, parents can make more informed decisions about the games they let their children play.

Hover does not talk about the other factors that were at play in the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting that took place in Dec. of 2013 in Newtown, CT. such as improvements to mental health treatment in the state or gun control laws.

You can check out her full opinion piece below:

Slightly more than one year ago, Newtown, Connecticut faced one of the most gruesome atrocities in our nation’s history when a severely mentally ill boy named Adam Lanza killed 20 school children, 6 school staff, his mother, and himself. In response to what is now known as the Sandy Hook Tragedy, the State of Connecticut passed sweeping gun control legislation with the intent of preventing future mass killings. As one of the Connecticut State Representatives serving Sandy Hook, I humbly ask you, is this enough?

Does making it harder to purchase a gun, or buy high capacity magazines, change an endemic culture of violence in our society? I say, absolutely not. There are many other steps, both unobtrusive and less controversial, we can take to reduce violent acts in the future.

As a Legislator, mother, and member of the human race, I wish nothing more than for our society to be free of horrifying acts of life-ending violence. Unfortunately, these acts continue to occur. Therefore, it is our job to work to reduce violence by becoming aware of the psychological triggers of aggressive behavior, and to take the time to notice signs of mental illness or aggression in our loved ones. That is why this legislative session, I proposed a bill that would require a warning label on violent games, those rated with an “M” meaning mature rating, and impose an additional sales tax on these games in the State of Connecticut. The revenue from this tax would go towards marketing campaigns educating people about the affects of violent video game play and signs of behavioral issues in children and young adults.

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’. 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?

I am disheartened this bill did not pass. Assuming Connecticut lawmakers are truly serious about changing the culture of violence in our state, taxing violent video games is a common sense start to achieving this goal. If mature-rated video games carried an extra warning label, and were charged an extra tax due to their violent content -similar to the sin tax on cigarettes-, a parent might think twice before purchasing that game for their young child. At minimum, a parent would be more conscious of the content in the games their children are playing. In reality, educating parents about the potential mental health implications to their eight year old from playing violent video games is as common sense as warning pregnant women about the dangers of drinking alcohol. If the children, teens, and adults who play these games (alike) were aware of the risks of violent video game play, they could moderate their exposure to such play and seek help if needed.

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. 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 should be the duty of the State of Connecticut to ensure parents and players are aware of this information. Labeling and taxing mature rated video games is an obvious way to achieve this. It is clear that violent video game play alters the psyche of our youth and induces violent behavior. Spreading the word about the affects of violent video games brings the issue of aggressive behavior to the general forefront of parent and player minds. Most importantly, recognizing and getting help for individuals who display patterns of violent behavior is a key step in preventing mass acts of violence before they occur. Therefore, I ask you as a Legislator and fellow citizen, let us work together to eradicate our culture of violence, and let us start with spreading the word about the harmful impact of violent video game play across Connecticut.

We will have more information on this story as it becomes available.

Source: CT House GOP


Comments

Re: Connecticut Lawmaker Calls for Warning Labels, Sin Tax ...

DebraLee Hovey is an idiot.

Such a tax is unconstitutional under 1st Amendment and 14th Amendment.

Edit: This now reads as nothing more than sour grapes on her part, since she's retiring at the end of her term: http://newtownbee.com/news/news/2014/02/20/hovey-says-she-won-t-run-agai...

2nd Edit: She's pretty much done anyway. The legislative session in Connecticut ends Wednesday.

Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Pelicans. Solidarity for the Saints = No retreat, no surrender. 2013 = Saints' revenge on the NFL. Even through the darkest days, this fire burns always.

Re: Connecticut Lawmaker Calls for Warning Labels, Sin Tax ...

Makes it obvious what this is then, it's a final desperate grab at the "Think of the children" card.

Re: Connecticut Lawmaker Calls for Warning Labels, Sin Tax ...

I think we could pay off the debt in no time, but only if we enact common sense laws that fine politicians/public figures for every falsehood they utter in public. It would protect the kids too, since far less utter bullshit would be rammed through legislative branches. 

Let's start with $10k for a first offense and then logarithmically go up from there.

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"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong." -H.L.Mencken

Re: Connecticut Lawmaker Calls for Warning Labels, Sin Tax ...

As one who is familiar with the science, this editorial is nonsense and the science cherry picked, relying on groups who have been criticized by both other scholars and the courts.
 

Did this editorial actually show up in a newspaper or is it just on the CT state house website?

Re: Connecticut Lawmaker Calls for Warning Labels, Sin Tax ...

Unfortunately, her lies did get print: http://www.newstimes.com/opinion/article/State-Rep-DebraLee-Hovey-Violen...

Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Pelicans. Solidarity for the Saints = No retreat, no surrender. 2013 = Saints' revenge on the NFL. Even through the darkest days, this fire burns always.

Re: Connecticut Lawmaker Calls for Warning Labels, Sin Tax ...

If mature-rated video games carried an extra warning label, and were charged an extra tax due to their violent content -similar to the sin tax on cigarettes-, a parent might think twice before purchasing that game for their young child. At minimum, a parent would be more conscious of the content in the games their children are playing. In reality...

 

It would do absolutely dick. Parents don't read the labels that are there or use the tools availible to them as it is. Another warning and another tax under the guise of "won't someone think of the children?" won't do a damn thing.

Re: Connecticut Lawmaker Calls for Warning Labels, Sin Tax ...

Sure as long as we can do it on religion too!


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

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http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: Connecticut Lawmaker Calls for Warning Labels, Sin Tax ...

Someone should publish a study which shows that holding a political office causes asinine behavior and a general disconnect with reality and common sense.

 

Re: Connecticut Lawmaker Calls for Warning Labels, Sin Tax ...

The problem with raising this kind of awareness is it tends to be highly selective.

The science on videogames=>violence is rather sketchy, but the impact of media on society in general in terms of setting norms, reenforcing stereotypes, etc, is much better established.  Raising awareness of how we are influenced by imagery would probably be a good thing, but it would need to be pretty systemic since it would include a lot of topics and a many differnt media types.

 
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