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New Jersey SAFE Task Force recommends regulating 'violent video games'

The New Jersey SAFE Task Force on Gun Protection, Addiction, Mental Health and Families, and Education Safety recommended regulating "violent video games" in a report dated April 10, 2013 (PDF link).

Governor Chris Christie convened the Task Force in January 2013, and the group's recent report includes 50 recommendations "that are both aspirational in their reach and practical in their implementation," according to the document's introduction.

The document is organized into chapters like "Keeping Guns Out of the Wrong Hands," "Urban Violence," "Mental Health" and "Violence in the Media." The report files its video game recommendations in a section called "Keeping Our Schools Safe" in the "Violence in the Media" chapter.

"Most people agree that exposure to media violence alone does not cause a child to commit a violent act."

"Our recommendations are provided cognizant of the fact that violent media has received a great deal of blame for youth violence in the recent past, but most people agree that exposure to media violence alone does not cause a child to commit a violent act," an explanation of the section's recommendations explains.

With regard to video games, section 4.4, Regulate Violent Video Games, posits that the "interactive nature of video games, as opposed to other forms of media, may dictate particular regulation of such games. The recommendations below pertain specifically to what the State could do in regulating the sale of video games, subject to the appropriate regulatory authority‟s consideration of the practicality and feasibility of each approach."

Recommendations include requiring minors to be accompanied by an adult when purchasing a video game rated Mature or Adult Only and requiring that retailers request identification for games of those classifications. Retailers would also be required to "conspicuously display ESRB ratings at the point of sale" and "develop, maintain and conspicuously display their policy on selling video games" with those ratings.

The following section, 4.5, recommends that the state "remove violent video games made available on state property," including those on highway rest stops. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation enacted a similar program earlier this year.

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