(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrat Annette Quijano sponsored to educate parents on how to limit their children’s exposure to media violence cleared the full Assembly on Monday (74-0-4).
“Parents may not be able to control the amount and the severity of violence shown on TV, websites or in video games,” said Quijano (D-Union). “However, a parent does have control over how often children are exposed to these mediums.
“Our children are most vulnerable when constantly barraged with violence in the television shows watched, web pages visited and games played. With consistent exposure, a child will begin to view aggression as a way to handle life situations and as having a normal place in everyday society.”
According to the bill, the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that by the age of 18, the average American child will have viewed 200,000 acts of violence on television. Moreover, exposure to, or involvement in, violence can disrupt normal childhood development and, profoundly, effect a child’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Psychological Association, and the Media Awareness network, extensive viewing of violence on television and other electronic devices leads to greater aggressiveness in children. As adults, children exposed to such violence are more likely to commit serious crimes, use violence to discipline their own children, and treat spouses in an aggressive manner.
“Recent school shootings have raised serious concerns about guns in the media, prolonged exposure of violence and their connection to a person’s behavior,” added Quijano (D-Union). “In light of the findings, parents should be concerned and aware. This bill would help to raise that awareness in household across the state.”
The bill (A-4904) requires the Department of Education (DOE) to prepare and make available on the department’s Internet website information on how a parent can limit a child’s exposure to violence on television, cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices. DOE would update this information whenever new information about a child’s exposure to violence on television and other electronic devices becomes available.
“Television and media has changed tremendously in the last decade. A PG-13 rating of today is not the same as it was years ago. There is less of a filter on what is shown nowadays and Parents must be concerned and careful of what they allow a child to watch and play,” said Quijano. “Using the state Department of Education as a vehicle, we can help to educate parents on the risks of over-exposure to shows, games and online sites which contain violent behavior.”
The bill would direct the DOE to an informational pamphlet that contains the information posted on its website within the context of the provisions of the bill and update the pamphlet as necessary. Under the bill’s provisions, the department would also distribute the pamphlet to all the school districts in the State, and make additional copies available to nonpublic schools upon request. In the 2013-2014 school year and in each school year to follow, each school district would distribute the pamphlet to the parents or guardians of students attending the schools of the districts.
The measure was approved by the Senate in May. The bill now heads to the Governor for further consideration.