They say kids are like sponges, soaking up tons of information every day. And we’re sorry to tell you that some of that information you learned when you were young is definitely wrong.
Whether it was from the chorus of warnings from adults or life hacks you learned yourself, there are a few myths out there that hold no merit, but are believed by many.
Here are seven things you learned as a kid that are pretty much bogus.
If your video game cartridge doesn’t work, you should blow into the bottom of it.
If you’re familiar with the chunky video game cartridges of the past, you’ve probably heard about an easy fix for one that won’t work: blow into the bottom of it. This was popular with Nintendo games ― so much so that Nintendo, according to The A.V. Club and Circuit Breaker, eventually issued warnings on games to tell people not to blow into their game cartridges. While gamers thought blowing air got rid of dust in the cartridges, the moisture from their breath actually made the games more vulnerable to damage through contamination and rust.
Joe Hanson, host of PBS’ “It’s Okay to Be Smart,” explained in a 2014 video that the blowing trend took off because gamers saw other gamers do it, and well, it seemed to work. Christopher Grant, editor-in-chief of Polygon and retro video game expert, told Circuit Breaker in 2017 that the simple process of reinserting the game a few times was likely the answer to many of the problems gamers had.
If you did blow into your video games back in the day, you had a lot of company. In 2012, Mental Floss’ Chris Higgins chatted with gaming experts who admitted they used to blow into their video game cartridges, but would advise against it because of the damage it (and your spit) can cause.
Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis.
Knuckle cracking can be so satisfying, and if you’re one of the many people who do it often, you’ll be glad to know the habit isn’t directly linked to eventually getting arthritis. According to Harvard Medical School, your risk for arthritis likely won’t increase because of the habit. Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center and Cleveland Clinic echoed that, but both noted that cracking your knuckles has been linked to lessened grip strength over time. And as researchers from Harvard pointed out, there have been injuries due to knuckle cracking.
Drinking coffee will stunt your growth.
If you ever asked for a sip of your parents’ coffee only to hear them say that the drink will stunt your growth, you’ll be happy to learn this isn’t true. A 2015 article from Harvard Medical School explains that this myth may have been tied to the rumor that coffee causes osteoporosis (fractures in people who have osteoporosis of the spine can lead to height loss), but the school is adamant that the research surrounding this was not sound.
“In fact, when the studies suggesting a link were analyzed, it turned out that people who drank more coffee drank less milk and other calcium-containing beverages,” the article reads. “So it was probably the dietary intake of calcium and vitamin D among coffee drinkers, not the coffee, that increased the risk of osteoporosis.”
Dr. Cindy Gellner of University of Utah Health explained in a 2014 episode of her “Healthy Kids Zone” podcast that caffeine won’t stunt your growth, but excessive amounts can be harmful to kids and adults. It can make you jittery and cause sleeplessness and an increased heart rate.
You should wait 30 minutes after eating to go for a swim.
If you’ve ever heard about that waiting period after eating to go swimming, we’re sorry to tell you that you lost some valuable time in the water. The idea behind the suggestion is that because your body is digesting food, other body parts ― like your arms and legs ― aren’t receiving enough blood or energy to stay afloat. But Dr. Mark Messick from Duke Primary Care Timberlyne says not to worry, according to the Duke Health Blog, because there’s no evidence to suggest this is true.
The Mayo Clinic gives the OK for kids in particular to swim immediately after a light meal or snack. But if a child feels tired after a heavy meal, he or she may want to take a short break before venturing out into the water. Dr. Michael Boniface from the Mayo Clinic noted that minor muscle cramping can occur, of course, but that swimming is still “not a dangerous activity to routinely enjoy” after eating.
If you swallow gum, it’ll stay in your body for seven years.
It’s true that gum is indigestible for humans because of its ingredients, according to Duke Health gastroenterologist Dr. Nancy McGreal. Still, unless you’re swallowing large amounts of it, you should feel no side effects. McGreal also noted that it’s highly unlikely that a piece of gum would remain in your system for seven years before moving through the digestive system and being excreted.
“In all the upper endoscopies I have done in both children and adults, I have yet to see a wad of gum lying around in the stomach,” she told the Duke Health Blog.
Hair that’s been shaved grows back thicker and faster.
People who choose to shave certain parts of their body may think their hair comes back thicker or faster, but that’s not the case. Cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Michele Green told Refinery29 last year that shaving doesn’t affect the hair follicle, which is responsible for the growth of your hair. Biologist and hair expert Kurt Stenn told Business Insider the same thing regarding the thickness of hair, and joked that if this idea turned out to be true about a simple shave, then “balding should go away. It doesn’t.”
Going outside in low temperatures with your hair wet will give you a cold.
HuffPost’s Wellness section tackled this rumor in 2015. It’s important to remember that the common cold and the flu are both viral infections, which means you can only get them by coming in contact with their respective viruses.
The myth that wet hair and low temperatures can cause these illnesses has gained merit because it’s common for the flu and the common cold to be associated with cold weather. Dr. Pritish Tosh, a Mayo Clinic researcher specializing in infections, told HuffPost that he wouldn’t necessarily recommend hanging out in the cold with wet hair, but you can’t get an infection because your hair is wet.