It was a meeting that lasted about an hour in the White House today as a reps from both sides the issue met to discuss whether violent video games impact the behavior of children. The issue came to the table again following the Parkland, FL high school mass shooting where 17 people were murdered. Afterwards, President Trump questioned whether violent video games had some responsibility in mass shootings.
Those who attended the meeting with Trump today described it as either the same old song and dance from the entertainment industry to “a good meeting” and that the President was “very interested in the data.”
The Entertainment Software Assn. which serves the computer and video game industry, explained (and has long maintained) that video games are played around the world but the gun violence that exists in America is unique to this country and it’s not because of video games. They also stressed that there is evidence that shows there is no connection between entertainment and violence and then also talked about the ratings that are already in place.
That drew a swift response from Parents Television Council Program Director Melissa Henson in the meeting who said that the stats that they are providing are just not true. “What I heard in today’s meeting is that the entertainment industry is still fighting to maintain the status quo and is not ready or willing to confront the impact that media violence has on our children. But time is up for the entertainment industry to put a stop to marketing graphic, explicit, and age-inappropriate content to our children,” said Henson after the meeting in a statement.
After the Parkland shooting, Trump said: “We have to do something about maybe what they’re seeing and how they’re seeing it. I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts.”
Over the years, the National Rifle Association has long pointed to violent video games as the reason for violence in children as they look to shrug responsibility of easy access to guns. Trump received millions from the NRA and even embraced NRA leader Wayne LaPierre during the presidential campaign from the NRA stage.
After the meeting, the Entertainment Software Assn. issued this statement: “We welcomed the opportunity today to meet with the President and other elected officials at the White House. We discussed the numerous scientific studies establishing that there is no connection between video games and violence, First Amendment protection of video games, and how our industry’s rating system effectively helps parents make informed entertainment choices. We appreciate the President’s receptive and comprehensive approach to this discussion.”
The PTC had a different take saying that there is just as much data to prove otherwise, that the increased violence does affect children. Henson said, “As a media analyst and advocate for more than twenty years, I’ve read nearly all the scientific papers on media’s impact on children. As the mother of a nine-year-old boy, I’ve experienced it firsthand. I’ve seen how the deck is stacked against parents in our culture. The academic community has warned us for over 60 years of the real-life impact of violent media content, yet in the five years since Newtown, TV violence has increased substantially. ”
The ESA also talked about the safeguards that are already in place with ratings on videos.
But again, the PTC also took issue with the ratings saying that those are often misleading “or outright deceptive” and that they do nothing to really keep violent video games out of children’s hands. They note that PTC’s own research “has revealed how easy it is for an unaccompanied minor to purchase an adult-rated video game.”
That all being said, the PTC said it was appreciative of President Trump’s “willingness to confront media gun violence and its impact on our children, and we hope that today’s dialogue will be the starting point towards real change.”