Nintendo Corp. has warned that its 3DS handheld video game system may be potentially harmful to the health of children younger than 6.

In a statement on the Kyoto-based company's Japanese-language web site, Nintendo said extended exposure to three-dimensional images may "negatively affect the growth of the eye" in young children.

"The vision of children under the age of 6 is in the developmental stage," the warning stated. "Nintendo 3DS, 3-D, including 3-D movies and television, delivers 3-D images with different left and right eye images." This "has a potential impact on the growth of children's eyes," it added.

Officials of the company were not available to comment as Japan prepares to celebrate New Year.
The warnings were not available on the company's foreign-language web sites.

Japanese electronics firms have invested huge amounts of time and effort into the introduction of 3D technology in everything from television sets to mobile phone handsets and games and the 3DS is Nintendo's latest version of its hugely popular DS line of consoles.

The console, which is scheduled to be released on February 26 with a retail price of around US$300 (€227), is able to give the affect of adding depth to the screen without requiring users to wear the unpopular 3-D glasses.

Nintendo is recommending that children under the age of 6 do not use the 3-D function, but also that older children and adults take a break from playing every 30 minutes or so, of if they feel unwell.

"If you feel sick or tired, please do not use the 3D function," the company stated. "Also, if you have a bad experience when using the system, please stop immediately. We recommend that you take a break every 30 minutes, as a guideline."

The player also comes with a parental control feature that will limit the action to two-dimensional images, which are safe for children of all ages, the company said.

Sony and Samsung have both previously issued health warnings linked to their own products this year.