A recent study conducted by the National Institute of Health found that moonwalking has been virtually eliminated as a form of transportation for children aged 7-12 in the United States. Using virtual reality 3D headsets connected to hidden cameras, researchers remotely monitored how children across the country cross the street. They were surprised to find that less than 1% of children are moonwalking across the street daily, down 66% from the last study conducted in 2000.
A young girl faces a concerned school crossing guard head on as she opted to walk to school face first instead of smoothly moonwalking her way across the street.
The 2015 study, which cost just shy of $10 million dollars and was completely funded by taxpayers, was inconclusive as far as why children are no longer moonwalking to and from their destinations. Researchers conclude that moonwalking is a very cool way to move, but for some reason, kids today are eschewing the fluid movements for skipping, running, or just plain walking. “None of the children seemed to care that skipping and running are very clunky movements that make them look kind of dumb, not to mention very difficult on the joints,” said researcher Bob Dobberson, who was involved in portions of the study. “And they didn’t seem to care that you could moonwalk instead of walk and look a lot cooler.”
There were no significant differences apparent in the study that would indicate children in certain cities are moonwalking more than children in other cities. “This is not an isolated phenomenon, it is something that our researchers witnessed from coast-to-coast while monitoring children on the streets through our virtual reality 3D headsets,” Dobberson said. “It’s happening all over the country. We think it’s a little odd, but we’ve been unable to determine a reason why.”
The “why” is what the researchers at NIH are poised to figure out next. A few possible theories for this phenomenon have been offered, and researchers are anxious to obtain additional funding to see if any of their theories hold water. One of the more popular theories is that children have been trained to eliminate moonwalking as a form of transportation through a series of training videos on pedestrian safety. “The videos did not include moonwalking as a safe option, which was an egregious error, and could be a factor in this,” Dobberson said.
Hunter Parker, an 8-year-old moonwalker from Lincoln, Nebraska, says he doesn’t see kids moonwalking to school anymore. “I haven’t seen anyone at my school moonwalking,” said Parker. “I think I’m the only one who still does it.” Parker said he’s never seen any training videos on pedestrian safety, and that he has been moonwalking across the street as long as he can remember. “I asked my friend to moonwalk to the park with me and he didn’t know what that meant.” When asked why he thought kids didn’t moonwalk anymore, Parker said, “Ummm I don’t know, I guess maybe they don’t know about it or something.”
Another theory, presented by Dr. Luther Van Ross, a pediatrician from Alberta, Canada who was not involved in the study, is that the children in the study were actually never taught to moonwalk in the first place. “It’s hard to understand how it happens, but it happens all the time,” Van Ross said. “I cannot tell you how many children I see in my practice that never learned to moonwalk. The single moms who bring their kids in don’t have the time or energy to teach in the evenings, and no one can depend on schools or babysitters to teach their kids what they need to know.” Van Ross admits that he only has anecdotal evidence to back his theory up, but he says “I still think the NIH should look into it.”
One of the least popular theories presented by a former researcher who is no longer employed with the NIH has something to do with Michael Jackson. The theory was so unpopular, however, that it was scrapped because no one believed it. “It sounded ridiculous,” Dobberson said. “What does Michael Jackson have to do with any of it? Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, and I think that’s important to remember.”
“Children learn by watching,” Dr. Cindy Rogers, scientist says. “If the parents aren’t moonwalking, the children aren’t moonwalking either. This could be why we have seen such a dramatic decrease in the number of children moonwalking in the last 25 years. It would be interesting to conduct a study to see if adults are also no longer moonwalking, or if it’s just children. But we’ll need more funding, at least $10 million, to be certain.”