As reported on CNet, a bi-partisan bill to fund a federal study of the effects of media on children has survived a crucial committee vote and will now move forward.
The Children and Media Research Advancement Act (CAMRA) was proposed early in 2005 by U.S. Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Sam Brownback (R-NE).
GP: As a historical aside, CAMRA was one of the first stories ever covered on GamePolitics.
The "sweeping study" envisioned by CAMRA would be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The bill was passed by the Senate's Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Although the original version called for $90 million to fund the research, no amount was specified by the committee. Lieberman Press Secretary Rob Sawicki said a funding cap would be set during the congressional appropriations process.
CAMRA would mandate a review of the cognitive, physical and socio-behavioral impact of electronic media on child and adolescent development. Issues such as physical coordination, diet,sleeping habits, attention span, peer relationships and aggression levels might come under its purview. TV, movies, the Internet, mobile phones, and of course, video games would all be included.
"This is a big step toward helping parents get the information they need about the effect of media on their children," Lieberman said following the committee vote.
Marv Johnson, legislative counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), however, expressed concern that study results might be used to justify media content legislation. "Down the road when - if there is some sort of finding that there is harm in this - then we're going to see calls to regulate speech because of the potential harm. That's where there's going to be a problem."
A similar bill introduced by Rep. Edward Markey, (D-MA) has yet to be considered by the House.
GP: Don't sound the alarm bells just yet. With so many conflicting arguments about the effects of games, it's hard to argue with an actual study conducted by the CDC.