In the past, the C3 bloggers have bean quite outspoken about their opinions on media effects, as you can see here and here, but, as far as I can tell, this is a new one for us; for once, media effects are not about the content or in its usage, but about the device itself.
A recent study by the Urban Institute states that the reason behind the recent spike in violent crime is none other than the iPod. "The gadgets are not just entertaining and convenient; their high value, visibility, and versatility make them "criminogenic"--or "crime-creating," in the vocabulary of criminologists.
And their power to distract users can give thieves an advantage. Researchers John Roman and Aaron Chalfin suggest in the report "Is There an iCrime Wave?" that the iPod's popularity with consumers and appeal to criminals may have translated into rising violent crime rates, as the institute explains in their press release . You can read the full report here.
According to the report, if you take out the "criminogenic" devices, crime would've actually gone down 3%. Now, of course, there is no way for us to know this for sure, but my sense is that the reasons for a crime wave could be more related to poor living conditions, violent environments, lack of opportunities, or, as the U.S. Department of Justice points out, the rising crime rates might be due to "violence by local gangs or street crews, more guns in the hands of criminals and younger, more violent offenders as key reasons for the rising crime rates." I must say that these explanations don't satisfy me either, but at least they seem to respond in more reasonable ways to the facts.
I stumbled upon this study thanks to a piece posted at The Institute for the Future's blog , and then discovered that is has been reported on by several mainstream media sources, yet I couldn't find anybody that was truly questioning its conclusions.
This is a clear case of what Mizuko Ito describes as the tendencies "to fetishize technology as a force with its own internal logic standing outside of history, society and culture", an idea that C3s director Henry Jenkins has referred to extensively as well.
Although I consider the idea of these "criminogenic" devices almost laughable, the consequences of believing that iPods are the driving force behind crime could be disastrous, as it would impede (or excuse) policymakers from addressing real issues affecting society, or in a way, blocking the sun with an iPod.