Are Video Games to Blame for Criminal Sexual Conduct?

Parents, schools, and public health organizations have protested the graphic content of video games since the industry’s birth. Games like Grand Theft Auto appear to encourage lawlessness, physical and sexual violence, and criminal activity, and many of today’s most popular games employ the use of incredibly realistic graphics to depict vivid blood and gore. Anxiety about the effects of video games on teen and young adult behavior seems to be at an all-time high, especially considering the public’s general concern over children’s relationships with screens.

With today’s unlimited access to media coverage of real-world violence, many believe violent crime and criminal sexual conduct are on the rise in the 21st century. The issues are even taking precedence in national politics, as President Trump has focused much of his campaign on combating violent crime in American communities and increasing sentences for criminal suspects. The culprit of worsening crime, Trump and many Americans say, must be graphic video game content.

A Close Look at National Statistics and Studies

One of the central problems with blaming video games for violence and sex crimes is the fact that correlation does not imply causation. In other words, two facts or ideas that appear to be related are not necessarily causing each other. Some research, such as this international study by Jay Hull, suggests a connection between playing violent video games and behaving aggressively in school. However, most researchers agree that studies have yet to prove a causation between the two behaviors. As the Entertainment Software Association points out, “other societies, where video games are played as avidly, do not contend with the tragic levels of violence that occur in the U.S.”

Patrick Markey, Villanova University’s psychology professor, conducted research in an attempt to end this controversy. In his 2017 book, Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games Is Wrong, he demonstrates that only 20% of men who commit severe violent crimes play videogames, compared to 70% of the rest of the population. “The general story,” he explains, “is people who play video games right after might be a little hopped up and jerky, but it doesn’t fundamentally alter who they are.”

Furthermore, data from the Pew Research Center demonstrates that crime is not even on the rise. Crime rates have actually seen a significant decline since the 1990s. While videogames are more popular than ever before, violent crime has fallen by more than 50% since 1993. Even nonviolent crimes (e.g. burglary, theft, and other property crimes) have decreased by a similar rate.

Why Do People Believe Video Games Contribute to Assault and Sexual Violence?

According to the Pew Research Center, public perception of crime does not reflect the actual data. In most opinion surveys of Americans between 1993 and 2018, more than half believe crime rates are higher than the year before. Additionally, a similar percentage claims crime has worsened in general since 2008, despite the actual downward trend observed by the FBI and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Americans’ perception of worsening crime is limited to the national level—far fewer believe crime has increased in their local areas.

So, where does this perception come from? Social media may be one answer. The scrolling features of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter result in repeated exposure to single incidents, and videos may have more significant and memorable impacts on the viewers. Additionally, the #MeToo movement has allowed thousands to come forward with allegations of sexual violence. While rates may not be increasing, reports definitely are.

In a society with ever-increasing exposure to violent crime and sexual misconduct, the public may be more ready to believe any and all allegations. The hope is that this attention does not impede justice for the wrongly accused.

Are You Facing Charges for Criminal Sexual Conduct? Contact Our Firm Immediately.

With misconceptions abound, false accusations may be on the rise. As our society grapples with definitions of consent and sexual crimes, those facing allegations of criminal sexual conduct will need a legal team with years of experience and aggressive litigation strategies at their disposal. At Prain Law, PLLC, our founding attorney devotes his time, skills, and resources to protecting the rights of Michigan defendants.

We look forward to taking on your case as soon as possible. Call (248) 731-4543 for your free initial consultation today.

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