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Group asks court to reinstate law barring sale of violent video games to children

Videos can lead to antisocial behavior, poor school performance, legislator says

Two psychology and psychiatry associations and a Bay Area state senator urged the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday to reinstate a California law barring the sale and rental of violent video games to children.

The law was introduced by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005, but never went into effect because of a challenge filed by two industry groups.

In February, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law on free speech grounds, upholding a similar ruling by a federal trial judge in San Jose in 2007.

The state is now appealing that ruling to the Supreme Court.

In Wednesday's action, the California Psychiatric Association, the California Psychological Association and Yee filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the appeal.

Yee, a child psychologist, said, "Passing this law was not easy and thus we should not expect the court proceedings to be any different. The multibillion dollar video game industry relies on the revenue generated by the sales of these extremely violent games to children."

The brief argues that psychological research "consistently demonstrate(s) the harmful effects these violent interactive games have on children."

It says that more than 3,000 studies published in professional journals in the past three decades strongly suggest that violent video games desensitize children and youth to violence and increase aggression, antisocial behavior and poor school performance.

The lawsuit was filed by the Entertainment Merchants Association, formerly known as the Video Software Dealers Association, and the Entertainment Software Association.

The two groups have said they believe parents should control what their children watch with the help of a rating system and educational campaigns by retailers.

The high court is expected to decide this fall whether to grant a hearing on the appeal.

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