Cocooned from Crime: The Relationship Between Video Games and Crime
The majority of research on the relationship between video game playing behavior and crime has been conducted by psychologists, has focused only on violent videogames, and suffers from two major shortcomings. First, psychologists have adopted correlational or experimental methodologies that do not in fact assess the empirical relationship between video game playing behavior and crime. Instead, they examine the relationship between video game playing behavior and aggression, and then infer research findings have social implications related to crime. Second, when making such inferences, these studies presume that meso and macro level phenomena are nothing more than the aggregated consequences of micro level events. Recent studies, however, have raised questions surrounding these two components of psychological research, as they have identified negative relationships between video game playing behavior and crime at county and national levels. In this study, we propose that these seemingly contradictory results can be explained using routine activities theory (Cohen and Felson 1979). We contend that video game playing behavior, particularly insofar as it occurs within the home, alters the routine activities of individuals in such a way as to decrease the number of criminal opportunities present within a society. We provide an initial test of this hypothesis using UCR, CPS, and Census data. As predicted by routine activities theory, we find that rates of video game playing behavior in the home are negatively associated with both violent and property crime.
KeywordsRoutine activities theory Crime Video games Media Community Public Health
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