Nintendo Warns: 3DS Unsafe for Young Kids
Let me get this straight - a portable game system with colorful, kid-friendly characters like Mario and Donkey Kong has been deemed unsafe for children under 7? And the FTC isn't jumping on this like a mustachioed Italian on a mushroom! It seems the safety of 3D video is a controversy that won't go away, even if it has only been relegated to the fine print. Nintendo has followed suit with 3D HDTV manufacturers and issued a health warning for its upcoming 3DS gaming system. You can read Nintendo's 3DS optical health warning right here in plain Japanese.
The system that is marketed specifically to kids carries a health warning from the manufacturer for children 6 years of age and younger. It cites the same trouble we warned you about last year with viewing 3D TV video, the risk to young, developing optical muscles.
At a promotional event this month in Tokyo, Nintendo has declined to make its new portable game system's 3D capability available to children less than 7 years. In a statement Nintendo said:
"We will offer 2Ds alone to children aged six and younger as continuing to watch 3D images for a long time could negatively affect the development of their eyes."
The next gen DS will be released February 26 in Japan and March in North America, Europe and Australia. An upcoming three-day event held outside Tokyo will allow Nintendo enthusiasts an advanced look at its new portable gamer with the 3D capability disabled for kids less than 7 years.
The Kyoto-based company that has already issued the warning on its website, President of Nintendo America Reggie Fils Aime says it’s a standard warning for all 3D products today.
"We will recommend that very young children not look at 3D images," [Reggie] said. "That's because, [in] young children, the muscles for the eyes are not fully formed... This is the same messaging that the industry is putting out with 3D movies, so it is a standard protocol. We have the same type of messaging for the [1990s Nintendo virtual reality machine] Virtual Boy, as an example."
It might be ironic that Nintendo was the company that began the 3D scare, in the first place. Audioholics was able to chat with Virtual Reality Pioneer, Mark Pesce who told us that his team that was working on the original VR Headset for Nintendo back in the 1990s, when the project was suddenly scrapped. Pesce even says Nintendo made an effort to bury the results of their safety testing, fearing legal action and a desire to sit on the technology for legal, future use.
Well, that future is now! Similar technologies to the VR Headset are employed in new HDTVs to fool the eyes into thinking they’re seeing three dimensional objects leap from the screen. What’s troubling about 3DS is it’s aimed at kids, the demographic that is at risk from these dangers. What’s next - a Dora the Explorer line of Cigarettes and Vodka?
Perhaps it’s not a surprise in today’s environment of no-holds barred capitalism that no regulatory body is prepared to step in.
Fear of Invisible Technology
Before we can be accused of tech-fear mongering, let’s remind you - this is Audioholics! We put milk on our ICs and have ‘em for breakfast.
But fear of new technology is as old and primal as the first homo-sapien burned by fire. We generally have good reason to be cautious about new technology that could put us at risk. It can be frightening to see seemingly magical energy cook food without a heat source or send our voice to a faraway device. Fear can be a natural reaction. When we don’t know much about a technology, superstition prevails.
Just go to the local health-food store and you can see new-age superstition hard at work creating a new dark age for science.
But is the 3D video issue just another fear-obsessed, tech-health controversy comparable to the cell phone radiation scare?
It’s easy to dismiss another 'tech-scare' when you hear about blatantly false fears from the new-age, anti-technologists. The latest was a hysteria that affected public schools in Ontario, Canada recently where parents suddenly pulled kids from schools fearing exposure to something called - Wi-Fi radiation.
If these parents get their way all they'll accomplish is producing kids unprepared to operate in a tech savvy environment.
Cell phones don't carry cancer warning labels (at least not yet). The danger of cell phone radiation has been well examined with no documented evidence that it causes brain tumors. There is no effort on the part of companies like Samsung to warn you of the dangers of using its cell phones, yet the same company does have a warning about the dangers of prolonged use of its 3D HDTVs by children.
The connection between 3D video and children's optical development, while not yet completely understood, has a connection compelling enough for Nintendo to scrap a groundbreaking new product in the 90s. One has to wonder why the same technology is suddenly okay, even though every manufacturer including Nintendo still warns of its danger.
Is it possible that deregulation has created a climate where consumer electronics manufacturers are confident enough not to be sued?
Has the closing of the HDTV product cycle created enough desperation that manufacturers are willing to risk health and lawsuits to maintain a growth industry?
While more research is required and the 3D TV industry has voluntarily added the warnings of potential dangers of 3D video on young kids. It’s clear that the average adult has no reason to fear 3D video. Until more we get more information we have to question Nintendo's common sense in releasing a 3D Video product so clearly aimed at kids.