If there's a hotter entertainment trend than 3D right now, I haven't seen it in any dimension. There are 3D movies, 3D televisions, and 3D Blu-ray players all over the place. Now they're being joined by 3D electronic games, and at least one game maker's product will come with a warning that young kids should avert their eyes. The new Nintendo 3DS hand-held game system, which debuts in March, will render 3D images without the special glasses usually needed to view them. And it will come with another feature other 3D systems don't currently offer: a warning that kids six and under not play it in 3D mode. That's according to a notice on Nintendo's Japanese web site, and no one's exactly sure why the company has issued the advisory. Some think it's simply to head off any potential litigation that might occur if waves of little kids start getting dizzy and "see-sick" from staring too long at 3D graphics. But experts say there's at least a theoretical possibility that spending too much time immersed in 3D imagery could potentially adversely affect the development of so-called "binocular" vision in which the eyes learn to work together to coordinate vision and create proper depth perception. Nobody knows for sure. 3D technologies are too new to gather any meaningful evidence, and no scientific studies have been done. Until some are completed and we find out for sure whether or not developing eyes should avoid extended bouts of 3D immersion, precaution is the right play, and parents would probably be wise to heed Nintendo's advice. As for me, I'll give the company the benefit of the doubt and commend them for what appears to be some welcome corporate beneficence where public health is concerned. Anyway, it's doubtful our kids should spend a whole lot of time glued to video games no matter what kind they are. While there's no harm in playing an occasional age-appropriate game or even having game night once in awhile, studies suggest that chronic electronic game-playing is detrimental to academic achievement, and social and emotional development. A study published recently in the journal Pediatrics, for example, finds that "depression, anxiety, social phobias, and lower school performance seemed to act as outcomes of pathological gaming." It's all about moderation -- no matter what dimension you're playing in. photo: Patrick Hoesly
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