Governor Paterson today signed into law Senate bill S.6401-A, sponsored by Senator Andrew Lanza (R-I, Staten Island) that would take steps to crack down on video game violence and combat and reduce children’s exposure to violent and inappropriate materials within these games. In 2007, Senator Lanza was named Chairman of the Senate Task Force on Youth Violence and the Entertainment Industry. Lanza today thanked Governor David Paterson and Assemblyman Joseph Lentol for joining him in creating this new law for New York State.
Senator Lanza said, “Many studies have indicated that violent behavior is learned. Technology advances have allowed video games to become increasingly more realistic and interactive, and unfortunately more violent. Some games simply aren’t appropriate for nine and ten year old children for example. Children’s behavior is far too often shaped by these violent virtual reality video games. It is important that we arm parents with the information needed to shield their children from these corrupting influences. This law I believe will do just that.”
“This landmark legislation will ensure that parents are better informed when making decisions for their children and hopefully will prevent young people from gaining access to video games intended for adults,” said Senator Lanza. “This legislation will provide information and educate consumers to help them make better choices for their children.”
The legislation would:
> Establish an Advisory Council on Interactive Media and Youth Violence -- The Advisory will review the current Entertainment Software Ratings Boards (ESRB) ratings system in keeping violent video games out of the hands of youth. The panel, which will include parents, educators, experts in child psychology, child welfare advocates, concerned citizens and industry representatives, will also develop policies relating to public education and advocacy against youth violence, examine efforts being undertaken in other states, and develop recommendations for additional ways of regulating the exposure of youth to these games.
> Require Rating System Labeling -- Under current law, there is no requirement that retailers place labels on video games sold in New York. To address this shortcoming, the legislation would establish a new requirement that every video game sold in New York by a retailer or over the Internet, whether new or for resale, must have a clearly displayed rating indication on the game cover or elsewhere (such as on a website). Individuals who violate these provisions will face fines and penalties.
> Require Parental Controls on Gaming Consoles -- The legislation would require that all game consoles be equipped so that parents can program the consoles to block video content that they feel is inappropriate for their child.