With the myriad of devices on the market it can be easy to get confused when trying to decide which is best for your child’s age group.
But first, don’t give your child a console as a personal present.
Buy it as a family or for the family. If your child receives the console as a present then it will be much harder to limit their playing, “It’s my console so why can’t I play it?!”.
This also goes for games. When you buy a game you can look into whether it is good for the whole family to play. Read more here about buying games.
The gaming devices
PlayStation, current version is the PS4. Now superseded by the PS5.
Xbox version One, the X series is now out and is made by Microsoft.
Nintendo Switch is a handheld device that can be docked to use a monitor or TV screen.
The controllers can be attached to the sides of the device to make one controller or 2 mini controllers for multiplayer.
Nintendo Wii is a console that changed the playing field back in 2006. It’s use of motion sensors in the controllers meant that hand gestures and movement were utilised to control games. This meant that very young and older people could play may of the games with ease.
PC and MAC You’ll probably have one already. Just be aware that some games will require high spec machines to play them.
A note on static and Mobile Devices
One major difference in all the above gaming devices is that between static and mobile devices. It’s worth knowing the difference when you’re thinking about you children gaming.
Wii, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch (when docked), PC/ Mac,
You have to set aside time to play as they are located in the home. The decision to play is a conscious one as there is the set up where you switch on the device and wait for it to startup. Also, in general, the games are more involved so you have to plan ahead to get the best out of your time playing.
Phones and tablets
As opposed to the above, you can dip into mobile devices whenever you have a spare 5mins, especially with the phone in your pocket. Therefore they are easier to binge/ overuse due to their availability.
Best device for early years gaming (6 to 8)
Simple to play, great value, family friendly.
Nintendo are the kings of family friendly gaming so there are lots of games that will suit your child. It’s very easy to play many of the games so you can play too. Even my mum could play it and enjoy it.
The controller has some clever motion detection that allows the player to shake or move the controller to play certain games. There’s also a pointer for the player to point and aim at the screen.
Some games are more thumbs only where the player presses buttons to move their character and make them interact with their surroundings but many of those games try and integrate the extra functionality of the Wii controller.
Finally, the console and games are very cheap to buy second-hand so you’re not making a large investment for something your child may have little interest in.
If you already have an XBox or Playstation you’ll find they are making a lot more games for young children. There are also some good peripherals available to help young children play more gesture based games.
Best device for young gamers (9-12)
Versatile gaming machine with great family friendly games
The Switch is a great machine for this age group and is a really good upgrade from the Wii. It’s very versatile with the controllers able to detach so you can play with one or more friends.
As with the Wii it has Nintendo’s repertoire of games that suit many ages and are accessible to people that don’t regularly play. It also has more mature games that you can play if you ever get the time…
The Switch can be un-docked to be a mobile device and should be treated as such. Although it is better than any other mobile device as it allows for the controllers to be removed to allow multiplayer gaming on the move.
Best devices for older children (12 and up)
PC or MAC*
Great value and choice of games
- The primary reason is the availability of games and their price.
- There is no backwards compatibility issues – where you can’t use your old games on your new games machine when you upgrade.
- There are no monthly fees to play online (some games may do this but this is very rare). PlayStation and Xbox require a subscription to be on their network.
- Chances are you’ll already have one.
- Buying the machine in the first place is going to be expensive but in the long run this equals out.
- You are able to play Xbox and PlayStation games on PC. This service is in its infancy. Xbox games are free to play on Windows 10 PCs. PlayStation is subscription based with an expanding repertoire of games.
Xbox or PlayStation
Great for playing together
I’ve included these as they are a great accompaniment to the pc or mac.
They allow for some great group play options when your child has some friends over for some couch gaming. Also, chances are, their friends will have one of these. They are so common now and a default for parents that just want to get their child a device to play on.
This might raise a few issues when someone wants to watch tv at the same time. But if you view games in a similar way to television shows or films then you will then end up balancing the amount of each.