What is Nintendo 3DS?
The 3DS is Nintendo’s portable gaming device released in North America in March 2011. 1 2 Structurally it is similar to the previous Nintendo DS handheld series. However, the 3DS introduces numerous new features—including a glasses-free 3D screen, three cameras, Augmented Reality (AR) games, Streetpass communication, and Wi-Fi. Additionally, on June 6, 2011 Nintendo released an update that allows the 3DS unrestricted Internet browsing capabilities. 3
Criticism of the 3DS mainly arises from mixed reviews regarding the 3D playing option, which is lost when the screen is viewed from any angle other than directly in front and less than two feet away. 4 Other reviewers target the poor battery life (just over 3 hours), the difficulty of connecting to Wi-Fi, and the cheap, plastic feel to the device. 5 6 7 The more recent 3DS XL addressed several of the hardware concerns.
Concerns for Parents
3D is a new development for video games. While the potential effects on a viewer’s vision have not been scientifically established, Nintendo warns that the “viewing of 3D images by children 6 and under may cause vision damage.” 8 9. Anecdotal reports from users generally indicate that the 3D effect causes soreness in the eyes when played for longer than half an hour, depending on each game's use of 3D. The handheld has a slider next to the screen that can be used to adjust the strength of the 3D, and 3D can be disabled through parental controls.
While the majority of the games have the ESRB rating of E for Everyone, some are only recommended for an older audience. Virtually all of the games that come bundled with the device are rated E. Check game ratings before you make any purchases, and use parental controls to disable the ability to make credit card purchases from the online eShop. Also, many games allow players to share unrated content they create through StreetPass.
The internet browser does not have any built in filters, but there are parental controls provided in the system. There is no ability to restrict the browser to certain sites, only to disable the browser entirely.
The 3DS has cameras on both the front and back. These can be used with certain applications to take pictures, record video, and share these pictures online and through Streetpass.
Enabling Parental Controls
- Start the 3DS by pushing the power button.
- Press the B button until you are on the main screen.
- On the touchscreen, tap on System Settings (the wrench icon) and then press the A button. If System Settings is not there, it may be inside a folder.
- Click on the Parental Controls button. Here you can add a PIN number which must be entered to enable certain features.
- Click the Change button, then click Set Restrictions. Here you can set a Software Rating to restrict use of Teen and Mature games, disable use of the Internet browser, disable use of the eShop to make credit card purchases, disable the 3D effect, and disable the ability to share data like pictures and videos taken with the built-in camera.
How Can I Keep My Child Safe?
- As Nintendo says, this system is “hard to ever put … down.” 10 Consider establishing time-limits for game play. The majority of games published by Nintendo have in-game messages encouraging players to take breaks frequently (these usually appear when the player saves their game after having played for more than an hour).
- Streetpass allows players to share uncensored short messages, images, and videos, which are wirelessly relayed to any nearby Nintendo 3DS consoles. Teach your child never to share any identifying information or pictures with strangers.
- To prevent the possibility of eyesight damage or tired eyes, consider disabling the 3D feature and taking the recommended 10-15 minute break every hour. Parental controls can be used to completely disable the 3D effect.
- Use the provided parental controls restrict internet use, other wireless functionality, and the game content according to their rating. 11 (Be aware that the rating restriction can only be enforced for the newer (usually white) 3DS game cartridges, and not for older (usually gray) DS cartridges.)
- Know what type of games your child is playing.
Where Can I Learn More?
3DS Focus has several tips for 3D viewing.