When many people think of 3D movies, they conjure up images of 1950s-era audiences in funny glasses, enjoying second-rate horror films. But 3D technology has come a long way since then, and more and more children and adults are enjoying 3D films. While this type of entertainment used to be a luxury that was experienced less than once a year, now many children’s movies are coming out in a 3D format, so kids can experience them more often.
2010 saw a huge rise in 3D films, with about ten being marketed to children. And with new innovations in 3D technology, products in 2011 will allow kids to play 3D video games and watch 3D television as well. While all of this may seem like the latest wave in entertainment and nothing more than taking fun to the next level, it may be more dangerous than we realize. What used to be an event kids might experience once every few years could now be a daily occurrence, which begs the question: “Are 3D movies and other 3D entertainment harmful to children?”
Many experts are starting to weigh in on this very question, and the results are mixed. Much more research needs to be done in this field, since this is a newer phenomenon, but several warnings have come out that parents need to be aware of.
According to Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, children under seven should practice caution when viewing 3D images. Nintendo has been working with experts in the optical field in conjunction with the release of their new 3D gaming console, the Nintendo 3DS. And according to these experts, “very young children [should] not look at 3D images… [because] the muscles for the eyes are not fully formed.” Regularly viewing these images could damage optical development, causing the eyes to not form properly. While Fils-Aime limits this to children under seven, other experts are being even more cautious.
In a lengthy warning accompanying the new Samsung 3D LED TV, viewers are warned to watch out for a myriad of symptoms, including “altered vision,” “nausea,” and “convulsions.” The warning goes on to say that ” parents should monitor and ask their children about the above symptoms as children and teenagers may be more likely to experience these symptoms than adults.”
And if this list isn’t enough to make parents cautious, some are citing the death of a man in Taiwan who died after watching “Avatar” in 3D at a movie theatre as proof that 3D technology is more harmful than most people realize. According to experts cited on Tutuz.com, overloading children with unnatural stimuli such as 3D could “interfere in the normal physiological process of natural development of the organ of vision.” So children who are regularly exposed to 3D images may not have normally functioning visual processes as adults, which could interfere with daily life.
While much more research needs to be done on this subject, the preliminary evidence suggests that 3D is probably not the best form of entertainment for children. And when you read discussions amongst the “field experts” otherwise known as parents, many come to the same conclusions: their children can’t make it through a full-length 3D film without feeling sick, getting nauseous, or experiencing headaches or dizziness.
So while an occasional trip to a 3D movie may be a safe indulgence for older children, young children should stick to old-fashioned 2D films. And regular exposure to 3D effects doesn’t seem to be safe for any child or teen, since the temporal enjoyment may produce lasting negative effects on sensory development. The upside? Parents could save a small fortune by avoiding this technology all together and investing in more low-tech options instead.
3D LED TV Warning, Samsung.com
“Movies in hi-tech 3D format can be harmful to young children,” tutuz.com
Stephen Totilo, “Nintendo Testing Healthiness of 3DS, Advising Young Children to Avoid 3D,” kotaku.com