The New York State Senate today gave final legislative approval to a 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.
"This legislation will ensure that parents are better informed when making decisions for their children and 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."
"Our children are spending too much time watching television and playing video games without any adult supervision, and we cannot just sit back and allow them to be exposed to this senseless violence," said Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno. "This legislation will better inform parents, and prevent kids from gaining access to obscene and violent games."
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.
The bill will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.