That there is a lot of buzz about the upcoming Nintendo 3DS is undoubted. That there is a similar buzz about the potential health issues and effects of the 3DS is also quite clear. What is less well documented is that a great deal of that buzz seems to be created by a merry-go-round of re-reporting that is going on, allowing a single article or opinion piece to bounce around the internet onto any number of web sites before eventually landing at a few of the "big ones" where they eventually spawn hits (and, presumably, advertiser revenue).
I had stumbled, for example, on an 'article' from N4G, which is a gaming portal website with varying degrees of respectability, in which the health effects of the 3DS were apparently to be discussed. Only, when I actually arrived at the page I was met with what was effectively a single paragraph of rehashed content from another article. Ah... so N4G is one of those web sites that collates stories and allows you to vote on them... I see. So, I clicked on the 'Read more' only to be taken to Product-Reviews.net... where I was met with a few paragraphs this time. Excellent, let's read on!
PSP2 and Nintendo 3DS: 3D Health Risks and Children
This article is only a few paragraphs long too, which is a bit disappointing. Actually, this isn't really a news article at all, nor even a story. It is, instead, ostensibly a few thrown together sentences that eventually get round to asking me questions - would I buy the 3DS, and do I knew what the harm will be to children?
I'm sorry but I really don't think it should work this way. If you have an opinion, then please express that opinion. If you have fact, then please give me the facts so that I can make a judgement either way. If, on the other hand, you have nothing... then please... just don't report it!
According to the article, a gaming analyst called Michael Pachter (yeah, OK, I'll do the leg-work to find out who this guy is... but shouldn't you be telling me in order to give credence to your story?) has given his opinion (professional or personal?) that Sony should attach 3D technology to the next version their handheld console... and I think that he says this because kids will want them to... sorry if that sounds vague, but there is nothing to help me form this opinion other than a vague reference and the question "... but what are the health risks?"
"A question?" thinks I. Oh good, because surely they wouldn't ask a question in the first paragraph without then diving into the answer to that question. It goes on:
Apparently Sony (recently, I assume) changed their terms and conditions for the PlayStation in order to incorporate health warnings about children playing 3D content. Reportedly:
The risks included nausea and eye fatigue or strain. It was also advised to take regular breaks in between 3D sessions, and viewing for the under six's is not suitable.
The piece then goes on to give us examples of Samsung doing the same in terms of issuing warnings (they have a 3D phone using the same parallax barrier tech that Nintendo use for their 3Ds) and, while a link is given to that, it is then accompanied by the following sentence:
Doctors even backed up the warnings given by the company.
Yes, that's right - that's it. No links, no citations, no further information. Just "Doctors". And to make matters worse... that is the end of the article about 3DS health damage. No, really, that's it. No more - just hypothetical questions about whether we should be encouraging the further manufacture of 3D devices.
Look - let's get something straight here - I'm not a doctor and I'm not a journalist. I don't work for a company, I blog on my own time for my own amusement. I don't work for a product review company, I don't write for a web site that claims to be "... a top source for news in technology, gadgets, reviews and all things web". But if I was any of those things, or associated with a company that made any of those claims, I would make damn sure that I did a better job than to publish such vacuous garbage. Even if my remit was to come up with four provocative articles a day to earn my 50p per thousands impressions, I would *still* put in a bit more research and make sure that the things I said were at least grounded in some form of fact.
Look, I'm not angry at either the writer or the web site - I get that sometimes things happen and you sometimes shovel content out for any number of good reasons. I'm just finding it increasingly frustrating that the same ill-researched and uncited claims are being bandied around from site to site without any real effort. I suspect that the author of this article was under some pressure to release the article, and I think he would probably admit it's far from the best work he's capable of. By reading his other work I can see that he generally does a very good job. Oh well, I guess this is just the way it is now.
You know what website I'm increasingly liking? Wikipedia. You have to cite - or the content will be pulled. I wish it were true for the rest of the internet.