Linking violence in video games and movies is one thing, but doing something about it is another.
That's the takeway from Wednesday morning's state Senate hearing that invited researchers, physicians, and legal experts to discuss the impact of media violence on public safety in California.
Much of the discussion centered on violent video games, which California attempted in 2005 to restrict to those over 18... a ban thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011.
"They increase aggressive cognition," UC Riverside researcher Derek Burrill told senators in his presentation on video games. "They increase aggressive feelings, behaviors, and they decrease pro-social behaviors -- like sharing or empathy."
But the academics testifying before a Senate public safety subcommittee stopped short of saying violent media is the cause of actual violence -- arguing instead that it is a powerful element in the mix for those suffering from other problems.
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Senators wondered aloud whether, with the legal rejection of regulation, the better path might be for ways to counter-program all of that media content -- namely, in schools.
"It sounds like as long as there's a softer approach," said Sen. Hannah Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, "the access and the constant interaction with violent games might be negated."
Video game manufacturers, in written testimony for the hearing, rejected the link asserted by the academics in attendance.
"Leading and well respected social scientists, researchers, and medical professionals [have] debunked the claim that video games California sought to regulate have harmful effects on minors," says the letter from the Entertainment Software Association.
But legislators, though realizing their options have been limited by the courts, seemed unconvinced.
A comprehensive look at violence in today's society," said Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, "necessarily includes movies, music, and video games."