There’s so much true crime content out there. You can stream shows, there’s masses of content on YouTube, you can listen to millions of podcasts… but is this criminal content making us a bit paranoid?

A study carried out in the US by ADT showed that the true crime content we watch and listen to contributes to our worries and stress. Women in particular are affected by this phenomenon, which makes sense since women are often perceived as victims of crime and are more likely to think of themselves as being vulnerable.

Why do we consume so much true crime content?

Even as little as ten years ago, most crime content was in book format. You could read a book about Ted Bundy or Jack The Ripper, but that was about it. But people are intrigued by evil and people that have a wildly different view on life to us. We want to figure out why these people do the things they do.

Some psychologists say that women watch more true crime content than men so they can prepare themselves for threats and increase their chance of survival. A study from 2010 showed that women read books that had tips how to defend themselves against an attacker, that delved into the motives for murder, and that they chose books that had female victims. This was reflected in the results of the survey ADT carried out, which showed women were twice as likely to consume true crime.

Humans also like to be scared, but in a controlled setting. The threat is exciting, but not real. 55.3% of people said they enjoyed being scared in a setting they could control.

What kind of true crime content do we consume?

TV/ streaming shows are the most popular content, with 87.1% of people watching shows like ‘Making a Murderer’. Movies like ‘Zodiac’’ came in second at 75.4%. Books such as ‘In Cold Blood’ were read by 43.1% of respondents, while only 27.8% of people listened to podcasts like ‘The Thing About Pam’. However, boomers were far less likely to listen to podcasts, with the younger Millennials overwhelmingly dominating that category.

More than 70% of people also followed up their shows with further research.

What does consuming true crime content do to us?

The ADT survey highlighted that women experienced more negative emotions than men after consuming true crime content. The survey measured a percentage change before watching true crime, and after. It found that 31.3% of women were more worried about their family’s safety compared to 27.2% of men. Women were also 27.7% more worried for their own safety, compared to men at 22.1%.

Both men and women felt more anxious, scared and paranoid afterwards, but women (24.4%, 23%, 22.2%) also experienced these feelings more than men (21.7%, 19.1%, 18.1%).

69.1% of people, just over two thirds, thought that the events they saw in a true crime show could potentially happen to their own families. 44.3% of people said they needed to take a break from the crime shows, to avoid becoming overwhelmed and stressed further.

As well as the emotional outcomes, there are also direct, physical steps people take to counteract these feelings.

How do people counteract these negative feelings?

The first step people take is amping up their security at home. Since consuming true crime content, 44.1% of people check their locks at night, but the single biggest step people take is installing security cameras, followed by doorbell cameras and security systems. Men were 10% more likely to install security cameras than women, despite the fact that fewer of them felt threatened than women.

People who had installed home security features after watching true crime felt safer. 44.5% of people who watched true crime content felt scared to be alone at night, compared to 23.2% who installed security systems.  17.9% of people who had installed security functions heard noises in the night, compared to 39.1% of people who didn’t install security.

Love scary movies and true crime but don’t like feeling unsafe?

An easy step to take to combat those negative feelings— but still allowing you to watch your favourite shows – is to install a security system. In particular, a security camera can go a long way to make you feeling safe, secure and protected in your house.

There are a huge range of security camera options available, from one-off DIY install kits that are battery operated, to fully wired integrated security systems that have alarms, door and window sensors and more. What you choose is up to your home and budget.

But, if you want to continue watching, reading and listening to true crime content… install a camera now for a peaceful night’s sleep with less noises, less bad dreams, and less stress.