3 Surprising Things That Make Car Sickness Worse

Kids using tablet and gaming device in car
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Scientists may not fully understand what causes motion sickness, but they do know who in the family is most likely to be affected. Kids between the ages of 2 and 12 are among the most susceptible to nauseousness and dizziness, while babies and toddlers are generally immune.

Thanks to recent research at colleges, universities and car manufacturers, we know more than we did a year ago about what can trigger motion sickness. 

Does your child turn green every time you go on a family road trip? Here are three surprising things that might be worsening her car sickness.

Your Car's DVD Screen Is in the "Puke Zone" 

When it comes to backseat entertainment systems, it turns out that location can make all the difference. While designing the 2014 Buick Enclave, the General Motors' Human Factors group looked at whether the placement of the DVD screen impacted the likelihood of motion sickness for backseat passengers. Engineers quickly identified a "puke zone" that prohibits kids from seeing outside the vehicle while watching the screen. It's believed that kids are more likely to get nauseous when they have limited exterior views.

To determine the best position for the DVD screen, GM engineers put the entertainment system on a track that could slide forward and backward along the roof of an Enclave and then kid-tested it until they found the optimal placement.

After considering the problem of motion sickness, Chrysler has also made some changes. In the 2015 Dodge Durango, for example, the rear seat entertainment system was moved from the center ceiling to the backs of the front seats.

Your Kid Is Playing a Touch-Control Video Game

Does your kid love playing video games in the back seat? According to a study at the University of Minnesota, some games are more likely than others to cause motion sickness. Researchers found that the risk of motion sickness was “greatly influenced” by the kind of game played on iPads. Gamers playing in touch mode—using fingertip contact on the screen—were nearly five times as likely to get motion sickness than gamers playing tilt-control games, such as iPad racing games, that require the gamer to manually control the device.

Your Kid Isn't Listening to His Favorite Music

The CDC recommends music distraction as one of many non-pharmacologic prevention techniques for motion sickness, and research shows that music therapy can indeed be beneficial during episodes of motion sickness. Researchers at Sienna College used a rotating device known as an optokinetic drum to induce motion sickness in participants while they listened to favorite music and found that music lessened symptoms like nausea.