So your son or daughter has expressed some interest in video games and their birthday is coming up?
Perhaps they enjoyed watching someone play a game on the internet, or a friend has influenced their interest in the hobby.
Unless you are an experienced adult gamer, knowing which kind of gaming console will be most appropriate for your kids (under 10 years old) can be a bit of a challenge.
You might wonder, which console will provide the best value? Which console will support the kinds of games that your kid wants to play? And which games are age-appropriate, without too much violence or adult content?
Fear not, because in this article, we’ll help you navigate this difficult and sometimes confusing technical space. Read on for our roundup of the best game consoles for kids under 10 years old.
- For family-friendly fun that supports more than one player out of the box, the Nintendo Switch is going to be the optimal choice. It is also the top choice in terms of portability.
- If customizable parental controls are a higher priority, the Play Station 4 might be a better choice. The console has a higher number of selections for you to choose from.
- Xbox One has a wide variety of games and like the PlayStation 4, also has a more expensive version. Your choice between the two models will rely on which exclusive games you’d like to buy for your kid.
Does Your Kid Really Need A Game Console?
In a world where we essentially carry game consoles in our pockets and tablet computers tend to be a common staple in our homes, it may make some wonder why purchasing a game console is necessary. Well, there are good reasons why you, as a parent, might prefer your kid to be engaged in console gaming rather than mobile gaming. It doesn’t matter if he/she is just 3-year-old toddler, 5 years old, or 9-year-old already.
Mobile games tend to be built to promote the addictive, compulsive play. You probably don’t want your little kid to be addictive at this age. After spending a small sum of money to buy a booster pack of digital items in a mobile game, this could promote the desire to spend even more. While microtransactions are also available in console games, consumer advocacy groups have spoken out causing big publishers to gravitate away from this kind of business model.
There is definitely a crossover these days in terms of tablet and console gaming, as sometimes the same games are available. The main differences are that console games tend to have a higher level of complexity and quality, with 3D graphics, challenging problem solving, and programs designed for shorter, more robust play sessions.
What to Consider with a Game Console for Kids in 2020?
If you’re a parent concerned about what kind of content your kid will see, you’ll want to check if the console you’re purchasing has some kind of parental control. Not only will this prevent your child from playing games when you’re not around, but it also will prevent the console from running games above a certain age rating. These kinds of parental control can also disable in-game purchases and restrict access to the internet.
Portable or Stationary
You might consider whether you’re going to buy a portable console or a console that remains stationary at home for use with the TV. Where do you imagine your kid getting the best use of the machine? If you decide to buy a console with portability, you’re going to want to make sure that it is durable and will be able to withstand the damage a kid might accidentally induce. Most portable game systems have custom hard cases or screen protectors you can purchase to prevent breakage.
Another consideration that you might take time to ponder is whether the game console will be able to provide some entertainment value to your kids when games are not being played on it. Does it support Netflix or Hulu? Can they watch videos from YouTube on the platform or use it to access social media?
It can be intimidating at times for a parent to decide which kinds of games to buy. In this article, we will highlight some titles that we feel are most appropriate for younger gamers and promote local cooperation (2-player) for enjoyable family play.
Best Game Consoles for Kids under 10: Our Picks for 2020
This is our top recommendation. Nintendo has a history of creating great family-friendly games, and their latest console, the Nintendo Switch is no exception. The most interesting aspect of this console is that you can choose to either play it on your big-screen TV, or you can remove it from the plastic dock (or “switch”) and play the tablet on the go. The controllers (also called Joycons) can be removed from the unit and used for 2-player games (perfect for when the kid has a younger/elder brother or sister). This system is ideal if you want something for your kid that can be played anywhere, be sure to get a travel case for protection just in case.
At a glance:
- Two wrist straps, two controllers, dock, grip, HDMI cable, AC Adapter.
- Parental control: Yes, with numeric pins.
- Online age restrictions: Below 13 years old.
Some recommended games include: Pokemon, Let’s Go Pikachu, Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Party.
- Portability: You can either play this console at home or on the go.
- A wide variety of games: Nintendo opened their console for indie developers, so there is an endless amount of interesting and fun titles being released for digital download on the e-shop.
- The Nintendo App does have parental controls to monitor system usage.
- This game system isn’t always capable of running the latest, big-budget game releases, as it has limited power. As such, you kid might be disappointed he can’t play some of the other big releases his friends enjoy on other platforms.
There are currently two different models of this console, the slim PlayStation 4, and the enhanced PS4 Pro. The more expensive model contains features such as HDR TV and 4K support, and these kinds of offers are a little excessive for a kid that just wants to play the latest and greatest games. This console includes great options to help a parent manage their kid’s playtime such as age rating levels, customized spending limits, and the ability to disable the console’s web browser.
At a glance:
- A controller, a power cable, HDMI cable, and a USB cable.
- Parental control: Yes, with passcodes.
- Online age restrictions: Below 7 years old.
Some recommended games include: Lego Dimensions, Minecraft, Rocket League, FIFA 19, and LittleBigPlanet 3.
- High Processing Power: Your kid will notice the quality of the graphics that come from this machine.
- Affordable Pricing: Most games for the system are a $60 price point, so it won’t break the bank to expand your kids’ collection.
- Blu-Ray Compatibility: You and your kids can watch your favorite films in Blu-Ray format.
- No Backwards Compatibility: The PS4 cannot play games from the previous generation.
- Online Fee: If your kid wants to play games online with his friends, he will need to pay a subscription fee.
Just like the PS4, Xbox One also comes in two different models. While the Xbox One S has all of the necessary features your kid might require, the more expensive model is more powerful. This gaming console has a broad library of games with no shortage of parental controls. You can toggle which kinds of content is accessible between “young child” and “teen.” You can restrict platform usage to only free apps. You can also remotely configure playtime limits through your computer, tablet, or phone.
At a glance:
- A power cable, a controller, a power brick, HDMI cable, and a headset.
- Parental control: Yes, with a pin number.
- Online Age Restriction: Below 8 years old.
Some recommended games include: Lego Marvel Super Heroes, Spyro Trilogy, Kingdom Hearts 3, Super Lucky’s Tale.
- Controller Batteries Life: The controllers can be used for longer than you might have expected.
- Voice Commands: Many features on this console can be accessed through voice commands.
- No backwards compatibility: You can play games from the last version of the console.
- Cost: the prices for games and online services for this system might be steeper than you expected.
Additional Tips and Resources
Now that you have purchased your favorite game console for your child, that’s great! Before allowing your kid to start playing their game console, make sure you’ve spent at least one evening setting up accounts, time limits, and parental controls. It’s important to make sure that you know your way around the system if you really want to be able to pass it off to your kid with confidence. Every game system mentioned in this article has a way to track how your kid is using their game console.
Always check PEGI ratings before deciding to purchase a game for your kid. You can usually find it on the box of whatever game you’re about to buy. A good site is: https://pegi.info/ where you simply type the game name and it will show you detailed info.
Remember that the console and a game might not be all you need to spend money on to get your game system running to your kid’s satisfaction. You might also need to buy second controllers for (siblings or friends) and online subscriptions tend to be a must with most game systems these days.
Also, remember that every game system these days has an electronic shop through which you can buy new games. You’re going to want to find a way to restrict accidental purchases on the online store or you could be in for quite a surprise when you get your bank statement. That said, most systems have some kind of preventative measure when you enable parental controls.
Last but not least, here are some video tutorials you might find helpful:
- This one shows you how to set up the parental controls on your Nintendo Switch so you can set timers on your children’s consoles.
- This one shows you how to set parental controls on PS4.
- And this one is for Xbox One.
Just because you’re buying a game console for your kid doesn’t mean that they’ll be the only ones getting any kind of enjoyment out of it. Remember that gaming can be best enjoyed as a group activity and there’s no reason why games couldn’t prove a good foundation for bonding. Hopefully, this article gave you all the insights you’ll need to make a strategic decision on your future purchases.
Have you already bought a game console for your kids or know someone who has? Please leave some of your impressions below.
Jessica is the co-founder and content manager. She has been fascinated by the startup culture in Silicon Valley and she loves building things from zero to one. When she is not writing, she loves getting close to nature and shoot photos with her iPhone and Canon EOS 80D.