Nintendo Issues Warning on Effects of 3D on Kids

The company says children 6 and under shouldn’t play 3D video games, including its own hand-held device Nintendo 3DS.

Children around the world just opened heaps of gifts over the holiday season, but the toy-crazed kids are undoubtedly drafting their wish list for next year.

However, parents should beware of a warning issued by leading gaming company Nintendo. In advance of the March release of the hand-held device Nintendo 3DS, the company suggests that children ages six and under refrain from using the device, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The way 3D images are processed by the visual system may impede on the development of children’s eyes. There is not yet much definitive scientific evidence of the dangers, but Nintendo is not the only brand issuing warnings. While feature films in movie theaters require the use of special, tinted lenses to enjoy the eye-popping effects, the new Nintendo system won’t require the use of 3D glasses.

It is also not conclusive whether there is a difference in risk factor between the use of glasses versus not using glasses. However, Steven E. Rosenberg, a pediatric ophthalmologist at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, told the WSJ he believes the brain processes 3D images the same whether they are received with or without the use of glasses.

Kristina Tarczy-Hornoch, director of the Vision Development Institute at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, raised a concern that looking at 3D images for extended periods of time could negatively affect the development of binocular vision in children. She does not know why Nintendo cites the age of 6 as the cut-off. Some viewers of all ages have complained of side effects such as headaches and nausea since 3D technology made its debut in the 1950s.

A spokesman for Nintendo’s U.S. division declined to elaborate on the disclaimer to the WSJ. The handheld gaming device does offer a parental-control feature to dis-enable the 3D mode, so young children can play safely in 2D instead.