clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The theory: people aren’t committing crimes because they’re inside playing video games

The case for: With the advent of new technologies like the internet, cellphones, and video games, children and teens are able to better entertain themselves indoors.

”What I think video games, the internet, and what-have-you did is take juveniles off the streets and put them into homes,” George Tita of the University of California Irvine says. “What happens when you don’t have kids hanging out in the corner? You remove the potential for victims and offenders on the street.”

John Roman of the Urban Institute argues that violent video games in particular may let people get the “rush” of acting out without actually getting into violent situations. “If you talk to the person on the street, they’ll say of course [violent video games] make people more violent,” Roman said. “If you talk to a sociologist, they’ll say [people] will substitute the game from acting it out in reality.”

Technological advancements like the cellphone and online messaging have also made some illegal activities safer, avoiding encounters that could have easily turned violent in the past. Instead of going to dangerous open-air drug markets, drug users can now call their dealers and meet them somewhere safe, maybe even in their own home.

The case against: While researchers, particularly Tita, claim to have seen this kind of effect in the field, they acknowledge there’s just not good research in this area.

The bottom line: Still unclear. Experts say the theory is plausible, but they can’t be too sure without the proper research.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.