The Dark Side of Digital Media: How the Internet, Movies, and Video Games Influence Copycat Crimes
The internet, movies, and video games have become an integral part of our daily lives. They provide us with entertainment, information, and social connections. However, the widespread use of these digital media has raised concerns about their potential negative impact on our behavior. In particular, there is a growing concern that these media may influence copycat crimes, leading people to imitate violent acts they have seen in movies or video games or read about on the internet. This article examines the role of the internet, movies, and video games in augmenting copycat crimes.

The Internet and Copycat Crimes

The internet is a vast source of information and ideas that can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection. While the internet has many positive aspects, it can also provide a platform for individuals to share extremist ideologies and glorify violence. The ease of access to information on the internet has been linked to an increase in copycat crimes. For example, the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand were live-streamed on Facebook and shared widely on social media. This led to several copycat attacks, including one in Halle, Germany, where a gunman live-streamed his attack on a synagogue on the internet.

Moreover, the anonymity of the internet allows people to communicate and share information without fear of being caught. This has led to the creation of online communities that promote extremist ideologies and encourage violent behavior. These communities can provide a sense of belonging and validation for individuals who feel marginalized or disconnected from society. The online incitement to violence has been seen in several mass shootings, including the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and the 2019 El Paso shooting. The shooters in both of these attacks posted their extremist views on the internet before carrying out their attacks.

Movies and Copycat Crimes

Movies have been a source of entertainment for over a century. They provide us with a window into other worlds and allow us to experience emotions that we may not encounter in our daily lives. However, movies can also have a negative impact on our behavior. Research has shown that exposure to violent media, including movies, can increase aggressive behavior in individuals. This effect is particularly pronounced in children, who are more susceptible to the influence of media.

Moreover, movies can provide individuals with a blueprint for how to commit violent acts. This was seen in the case of the 2012 Aurora theater shooting in Colorado, where the shooter was said to have been inspired by the movie “The Dark Knight Rises.” The shooter had dyed his hair orange and called himself the “Joker,” a character from the movie. The movie’s violent scenes were said to have provided the shooter with a blueprint for his attack.

Video Games and Copycat Crimes

Video games have become an increasingly popular form of entertainment in recent years. They provide players with a simulated environment where they can engage in a variety of activities, including violence. While most video games are harmless, there is a growing concern that some video games may be linked to an increase in aggressive behavior and copycat crimes.

Research has shown that exposure to violent video games can increase aggressive behavior in individuals. This effect is particularly pronounced in children, who are more susceptible to the influence of media. Moreover, some video games provide players with a realistic simulation of violent acts, making it easier for individuals to imitate those acts in real life. This was seen in the case of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, where the shooters were said to have been inspired by the video game “Doom.” The game provided the shooters with a blueprint for how to carry out their attack.
Works Cited:
Ferguson, Christopher J. “The Dark Side of Video Games: Is there a connection between violent video games and violent behavior?” Psychology Today, 2013, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/201312/the-dark-side-video-games.
Greene, Liz. “How Social Media Influences Copycat Crimes.” The Atlantic, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/08/copycat-crimes-and-social-media/596154/.
Jenny, Seth E., et al. “Media Violence and Social Neuroscience: New Questions and New Opportunities.” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, vol. 7, 2013, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00539/full.
Klein, Adam. “Christchurch Shooter’s Manifesto Echoes Mass Killers’ Words and Ideas.” The New York Times, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/15/world/asia/new-zealand-shooting.html.
Kutner, Lawrence, and Cheryl K. Olson. Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games and What Parents Can Do. Simon and Schuster, 2008.
Wilson, David B. “Copycat Crimes: How Social Media and the News Can Inspire Violence.” The Guardian, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/07/copycat-crimes-how-social-media-and-the-news-can-inspire-violence.

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