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A Rhode Island state representative wants to tax violent video games

Steven Petite
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As a means to fund additional counseling and mental health services in schools, Rhode Island representative Robert Nardolillo III wants an increased tax on violent video games, Glixel reports.

If Nardolillo’s proposal becomes law, every game given a Mature rating by the ESRB would be subject to an additional 10 percent tax. Money gathered from the tax would be placed into a fund and dispersed to school districts to provide more resources for those in need of counseling.

“There is evidence that children exposed to violent video games at a young age tend to act more aggressively than those who are not,” Nardolillo said in a press release. “This bill would give schools the additional resources needed to help students deal with that aggression in a positive way.”

Nardolillo’s proposed legislation comes a week after the horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida. But while most would agree that more mental health resources in schools is a good thing, the Republican representative is using a disputable line of thinking.

While some studies report that video games kids to be more aggressive, others have come to the conclusion that consumption of violent media doesn’t increase aggression. Nardolillo also left out that the studies that have linked aggression to violent games have mainly looked at relatively benign acts like making annoying noises into the headset while playing an online game.

What is definitive, however, is that no credible link has been made between violent games and fatal gun violence.

For example, in 2017 the Society for Media Psychology and Technology — a branch of the American Psychological Association — released a statement asking media and policymakers to stop connecting video game to mass shootings. The statement indicated that little evidence supports such a link and that exposure to these sorts of games, even by individuals with prone to aggression, does not increase the likelihood of real-world violence.

Additionally, the latest research conducted by the Secret Service and the Department of Education found that only roughly 20 percent of school shooters played video games compared to the 70 percent rate of their peers.

Nardolillo isn’t alone in targeting violent games in the wake of the Parkland shooting. Kentucky governor Matt Bevin posted a video message on Facebook blaming the violence depicted in our culture’s media, including video games. Florida congressman Brian Mast offered a similar opinion while downplaying the need the stricter gun laws.

“Our goal is to make every school in Rhode Island a safe and calm place for students to learn,” Nardolillo said. “By offering children resources to manage their aggression today, we can ensure a more peaceful tomorrow.”