February 13, 2021

3D Movies: Are They For Your Family?



Information on the effects of 3D movies on your child’s brain.
And, how 3D movies can cause nausea.

As 3D movies hit theaters at a faster clip than ever, the question arises: are 3D movies worth the added expense? Well, maybe; but certainly not for every movie and not every child.

“Sadly, both my kids get sick and can only watch for about 15 minutes before a headache starts,” said Caryl, Dix Hills, N.Y.

According to Michael Rich, MD, MPH, director of Children’s Center on Media and Child Health (www.cmch.tv), there’s a reason for the headaches and nausea some children and adults feel when watching a 3D movie. The glasses and visual effects directly impact our senses and our brains.

“Many people experience nausea during a 3D movie. That’s because the signals that your brain is receiving from your eyes say that you are moving in relation to your immediate surroundings, but your inner ear (in charge of balance) is saying that you’re not moving. If the nausea is not so bad that you’d avoid 3D movies all together, one way to reduce these feelings during a 3D movie is to close your eyes or look away from the screen. This will remove the competing stimuli and help reorient you in actual space,” wrote Dr. Rich in his blog at www.childrenshospitalblog.org.

“So what does your brain do when you’re sitting in a theatre, looking at a giant screen, wearing 3D glasses, swimming in surround sound, and processing the 24 images that flip by per second? Your brain dutifully processes those stimuli—and does little else. In fact, your pre-frontal cortex, which is involved in impulse control, future thinking, and moral choices, is basically inactivated in this process. That’s part of why you ‘get lost’ in the movie,” Dr. Rich wrote.

Another item to consider when going 3D, is the cost of the tickets. Tickets to 3D movies cost at least $3 more per ticket than traditional 2D productions, which could quickly impact a family’s entertainment budget.

“It depends upon the movie whether or not it is worth the additional money,” said Marita, Westerville, Ohio. “For anything with special effects, I would spend it for the 3D.”

Michelle, mother of two in Detroit, Mich., agreed. “I think it would be a waste on a cartoon, but movies with great scenery or action look pretty good in 3D. Too bad I only pay to see movies at the dollar show unless it’s something huge coming out.”

Justine, mother of three in Washington DC, is also particular about indulging in 3D movies. “Princess and the Frog I would not have paid, but Joey (my husband) said Avatar was totally worth it. So I guess for something with good special effects I would do it.”

Two other things to consider when going 3D are whether or not your child will be able to keep the glasses on for the movie (this can be a challenge with little ones who don’t like to wear the glasses) and also, the fear factor. The appearance of images popping out can increase a flick’s dramatic images, potentially being more scarey.

“For children, the extra processing that their brains have to do may make them more vulnerable to the content. In other words, if something in the movie would have scared them in 2D, it will likely be even scarier in 3D. But children’s fear is an issue to consider with any movie, so read up on the movie’s content before you go, whether it’s 2D or 3D,” suggested Dr. Rich.

So before you head to the theatre, do some research and make sure 3D is what is right for your family.

Information cited from: http://childrenshospitalblog.org/what-goes-on-in-the-brain-during-a-3d-movie/; Michael Rich, MD, MPH is Children’s media expert. He is the director of Children’s Center on Media and Child Health.


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