What are the five most dangerous words said within earshot of a teenager? “Don’t try this at home.” New research shows that high-schoolers are highly likely to try stupid stunts that they see in ads, movies, TV shows, and videogames, especially when they’re warned not to! Researchers at the Case Western University School of Medicine examined the reckless act of car- surfing, an incredibly dangerous stunt where a passenger stands on the hood or the roof of a moving vehicle, without training or safety equipment. The scientist chose that particular behavior for three reasons:
- First, it’s unusual and dangerous.
- Second, it regularly turns up in movies and videogames.
- Third, incidents of car-surfing are easy to track because EVERYONE who tries it ends up in the emergency room - or the morgue.
The researchers looked closely at the states with the most car-surfing injuries: California, Florida, and Texas. They found that the number of incidents increased dramatically during the years when movies and videogames depicting car-surfing were popular. They also found that in years when there were no new car-surfing movies or videogames, the number of serious injuries and fatalities from real-life mimics dropped.
So, why do so many kids try something so dangerous? Neurosurgeon Dr. Ann-Christine Duhaime says that the teenage brain isn’t wired to fully understand risk, and most of them feel invincible. So they’re more likely to take incredible risks. In fact, you need to consider the idea that a teen will actually miss the word “don’t” in the “Don’t try this at home” warning – and think, “Oooh, try this at home!” So, we’ll leave you with this: In normal car accidents, the rate of head and spinal column injuries is about 25%. In car-surfing accidents, it’s 100%.