Comedy·ONE GIANT LEAP

STUDY: Video games found to warp kids' sense of how high they can jump

Parents for Responsible New Media are now warning that this trend could effect an entire generation of maladjusted adults.

TORONTO, ON—A study commissioned by a digital media watchdog group has found an unnerving correlation among the nation's youth: an almost lock-step connection between regular exposure to video games and a highly distorted sense of one's own vertical leap.

Parents for Responsible New Media are now warning that this trend, if unchecked, could lead to an entire generation of maladjusted adults with completely inappropriate concepts of how high they can jump, how far they can jump, and which areas are accessible via jumping.

"You only need to play any of today's popular games for a minute to see what they're showing our kids," said PRNM spokesperson Katherine Strand. "Characters jumping impossibly high, characters jumping OVER other characters. Jumping and then changing direction while they're up there. And kids see that and they think that's fine, they think that's normal."

"And they take that to the cliffs and spikes at their school."

"The average male has a vertical leap of 16 to 20 inches, and for the average woman it's between 12 to 16," explained David Hyun, head of Kinesiology at McMaster University and a source cited in the study.

"There are minor variables at work such as age, of course, but these games are showing people jumping five, six times their height in the air. They're showing people jumping fifteen feet forward from a flat-footed position. And that's simply not what jumping is like."

"Watch," Hyun added, jumping approximately one-and-a-half feet in the air. "That's nothing. And I'm pretty good."

Following the release of the study, PRNM's next step is a public awareness campaign.

"Ultimately, what we're trying to do now is raise parents' awareness of the effect video games can have on jump-perception, so they'll sit down and talk to their kids before one of them encounters a long gap in the pavement and tries to get over it by jumping—or god forbid, double jumping," Strand warned, referring to the scientifically discredited act of jumping and then jumping again in mid-air.

Like many members of the group, Strand says that for her, the mission to combat harmful messaging in games is a personal one.

"I know firsthand how dangerous stuff like this can be. As a child in the late '80s, video games led me to believe that eating chicken I found on the ground or in a garbage can would increase my health."

"It didn't," added Strand. "If anything, my health became much worse."

The developers of a game featured prominently in the study, Bus Jumper 2: The Leapening – Extra Jump Edition," declined to comment.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jon Blair is a writer and sketch comedian best known for his work on This Hour Has 22 Minutes and his 5 year tenure with Toronto sketch comedy mainstay The Sketchersons. He recently won the Stand Up and Pitch pilot competition at Just For Laughs, and the prestigious Bag of Beer award for best newcomer at Montreal Sketchfest.

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