Video Games Bill: Oklahoma Politician Links Media Violence To Teen Bullying

Is there a link between violent video games and bullying? According to one Oklahoma State Representative, the answer to this question is "yes," and in an effort to address the issue he has introduced a new bill to the state legislator that, if passed, would introduce a 1 percent tax on all violent video games.

The state tax would be added to all video games that have a rating of Teen, Mature, or Adult Only by the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Games that would be labeled "violent" under this umbrella would include Skyrim, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Zumba Fitness 2, Rock Band 3, and Dance Central 2. The money collected would be donated to the state's Childhood Outdoor Education Revolving Fund to fight obesity and the Bullying Prevention Revolving Fund.

“Violent video games contribute to some of our societal problems like obesity and bullying, but because they raise a lot of revenue, they can also provide part of the solution,” William Fourkiller, the State Representative who introduced the bill, told Oklahoma City’s KFOR. Fourkiller also cited an incident where a car thief admitted to having played Grand Theft Auto before committing the crime.

The debate about whether there is a direct correlation between violent video games and youth violence is nothing new, and a columnist at points out that this particular bill "singles out video games and ignores other forms of entertainment, from television to movies and books to music."

But could there be statistical evidence to support Fourkiller's bill? In a video interview covered on The Huffington Post in November 2011, researcher Dr. Lawrence Kutner discussed a study he conducted which surveyed approximately 1250 seventh and eighth grade students in multiple states to find out what video games they play, why they play, where they play, and with whom they play. He used these as markers for which kids were more likely to have common behavioral problems, like being a bully or being bullied.

According to Kutner's findings, teens who were attracted to these violent video games did tend to have more problems in school. However, he suggested the reason could be simply that if you are attracted to violence in real life, you will also be attracted to violent video games. He noted that violence in schools has gone down dramatically in the U.S. over the past 20 years.

MIT Professor Henry Jenkins in his essay "Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked" also states that that the population that serves time for violent crimes typically consumes less media -- which includes playing video games -- before being arrested than the average person in the general population.