I love my Nintendo 3DS. It doesn’t get constant use, but whenever I get a cool game for it and dust it off, I’m reminded of how much I enjoy it. However, I almost never play with the 3D on, and if I do I keep it quite minimal. It just doesn’t add to my enjoyment factor too much, and if used for too long can give me a bit of a migraine. Apparently, it’s even worse for kids.
France’s health and safety executive, ANSES, has done extensive research into the effect of stereoscopic 3D images and determined that it actually effects children in much more profound ways than it does adults. While adults feel the effects as tired eyes or headaches, those whose brains are still rapidly developing could actually have developmental issues as a result of 3D images.
An analysis of the available scientific literature identified different potential symptoms related to exposure to 3D audiovisual interfaces, resulting from the visual fatigue caused by “vergence-accommodation conflict”. In the real world, to perceive depth and relief, the eyes converge (i.e. they are directed at the same object) and accommodate (the lens of each eye changes shape to obtain clear vision) at the same distance, i.e. the distance to the object being observed. The creation of artificial stereoscopic effects by technical means (3D) makes it impossible for the eye to respect this physiological principle. The eyes’ accommodation (to a screen, for example) and convergence (on an object located in the foreground or background of the screen) do not therefore occur at the same distance.
As a result, ANSES recommends that kids under the age of six shouldn’t be exposed to 3D technology while those under the age of 13 should only use it in moderation. However, New Scientist disagrees, saying that after so many years of 3D entertainment there haven’t been any reports of long-term adverse effects at any age. They see the bans as rash and unnecessary.
I think this is more about the impact of technology and screens on children in general. Nintendo already warned that 3D might not be good for kids, causing eye fatigue. Parents are worrying about how many hours kids spend using tablets and other devices. Is it time to panic? Or is this all just part of the times and we’re those grumping old people who talk about playing outside as children when all we want to do now is play in our caves all day.
Last Updated: November 28, 2014