US politician wants videogames to carry warning label

The debate about the potentially dangerous influence violent videogames have on kids goes on. US Democratic congressman Joe Baca is introducing the US to his latest proposition, the “Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2009.” The Labeling Act is similar to what can be seen on cigarettes and alcoholic beverages nowadays — warning labels on the harmful effects of usage. If the legislation passed, all games rated T and M will carry a label that says “Warning: Excessive exposure to violent videogames and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behaviour.”

“The video game industry has a responsibility to parents, families, and to consumers –- to inform them of the potentially damaging content that is often found in their products,” Baca said.

“They have repeatedly failed to live up to this responsibility. Meanwhile research continues to show a proven link between playing violent games and increased aggression in young people. American families deserve to know the truth about these potentially dangerous products,” he continued.

Baca refers to studies from the Pediatrics Journal, University of Indiana, University of Missouri, and Michigan State University as proof there is a link between playing violent videogames and aggressive behaviour in children and teenagers. Even if this was true there are some things that Baca doesn’t take into consideration. First of all, the games already have labels that state whether or not the games are appropriate for kids. The parents should be able to set up appropriate restrictions using this.

Secondly, research on the videogames/aggression relation is not yet unanimous. Most research only shows that playing violent videogames increases the activity in the amygdala, which is a big player in the emotional part of the brain. Last but not least, kids and teenagers don’t give a shit about warning labels. Highly graphic pictures on cigarette packs do have an effect, but there’s a big difference between text and gory pictures.