So your 5-year-old son or 7-year-old 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. Check out our roundup of the best game consoles for kids under 10 years old.
- Does Your Kid Really Need a Game Console?
- Best Game Consoles for Kids: Our Picks
- Game Console for Kids: What to Consider
- Additional Tips and Resources
- Final Words
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 a 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.
Best Game Consoles for Kids: Our Picks
The following systems are perfect for young kids who enjoy all types of video games.
1. Nintendo Switch
- Best For: Overall
- Key Features: Fun, splashy titles. Unique joycon system. Portable. Easy to play while on the go. Family friendly.
- Internal Storage: 32GB
- Screen Size: 4 inches
- Dimensions: 1.4″ x 1.1″ x 4″
There are many great kid-friendly consoles out there, but the Switch stands above them all. That’s because the item, as with most Nintendo creations, gears itself towards a younger audience. The games tend to be sillier, the colors brighter, and the design much more fun.
The console gets high marks because it has some of the biggest kid-centric titles in the world (like Zelda and Mario) and is incredibly functional. It can be used as a standard system, or it can be detached and used as a handheld gaming device.
While you do lose some of the larger big-budget releases you’ll find on other systems, the Switch is one of the best and most exciting gaming experiences you can give
2. Playstation 4 Slim
- Best For: Big Titles
- Key Features: Extremely high processing power. Excellent graphics. Blu-Ray compatibility. Wide game variety.
- Internal Storage: 1TB
- Dimensions: 17.2 x 4.8 x 14.5 inches
- Resolution: 1080p
The PS4 is one of the best selling systems ever made, and for good reason. It has incredibly high graphics, a range of fun, exciting games, and some of the cleanest UI on the market. The Slim version is much easier to manage and takes up less space, without losing any high specs.
Though it’s smaller, the system still comes with plenty of space and power. Your kid will be able to get and play any game they want. On top of that, most titles, even the more popular ones, are quite affordable a couple months after they come out.
The only large downside the PS4 has compared to the other top consoles is that there’s no backwards compatibility. However, it has so many good games that won’t be much of an issue.
3. Xbox One S
- Best For: Versatility
- Key Features: Responsive voice control. Powerful internal engine. Long controller battery life. Wide game selection.
- Internal Storage: 1TB
- Dimensions: 17 x 4.5 x 11.5 inches
- Resolution: 4k
The PS4’s direct counterpart, the Xbox One S is a gaming system that delivers all of the speed and power your kids need when getting a fun, flashy console. It comes with an extremely wide variety of games, as well as a slick UI, and has incredibly useful voice control.
The biggest draw of this machine, besides the gigantic game library, is the usability. Not only does it run all of your kid’s favorite titles, but they can also watch Blu-Ray movies and enjoy their favorite streaming services from the home screen.
Though some parents may worry about more mature games, the Xbox also comes with some of the best parental controls on the market.
4. Nintendo Switch Lite
- Best For: Portability
- Key Features: Extremely portable and lightweight. Sleek body and responsive controls. Fun look. Multiple storage options.
- Internal Storage: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
- Dimensions: 1 x 2 x 2 inches
- Weight: 1.54 pounds
The Switch, as covered above, is a great console for kids. The Lite follows in its big brother’s footsteps by providing the same big, colorful gaming experience in a more mobile way. This is the same console as the Switch, running the same games, but it’s only handheld.
Some people may not like losing the console functionality. However, a sleek, attractive device that can be taken anywhere is incredibly fun for kids of all ages. It’s much more affordable than the traditional console as well.
The integrated controls are responsive, the graphics absolutely pop off the screen, and the functionality is top notch. Your kid will get the full Ninentdo experience, and they can bring it just about anywhere.
5. PS4 Pro
- Best For: Processing Power
- Key Features: Extremely fast. PS4 exclusive titles. Splashy display and vivid graphics. Stable performance.
- Internal Storage: 1TB
- Dimensions: 18.5 x 4.92 x 14.96 inches
- Resolution: 3840 x 2160
Though the PS4 Slim is an excellent gaming console, the PS4 Pro is the best choice for those who want to give their kids a truly epic gaming experience. It delivers everything that the Slim does, while ramping up the graphics, speed, display, and processing power.
You get all of the goodies with this device. That includes the fun PS4 exclusive games, amazing 4k resolution, stunning coloration and smooth frame rate, as well as the ability to watch some of your favorite movies and shows.
Of course, this is much more expensive than the Slim. However, if you want to give your kid to be truly immersed, nothing will come close to what the Pro has to offer.
6. iPad Air
- Best For: Mobile Gaming
- Key Features: 10.9-inch screen with Liquid Retina display. True Tone. A14 Bionic Chip. App store. Excellent audio.
- Internal Storage: 64GB
- Screen Size: 10.9 inches
- Resolution: 2360 x 1640
While not technically a gaming console, the iPad Air still gets a mention on this list because it’s a great way for kids to game. They won’t be able to play any traditional console games on the device, but the app store is filled with fun mobile games they can get lost in for hours.
That variety is one of the best things about the Air. There are quick games, medium weight options, as well as extremely immersive titles that go on and on. No matter how your kid likes to play, they will surely find something that catches (and keeps) their attention.
On top of that, the iPad is one of the most functional electronic devices on the market. It’s definitely expensive, but you’re buying a lot more than a console.
7. Sega Genesis Mini
- Best For: Streamlined
- Key Features: 42 included games. Plug and play leads to easy setup. Small shell. 2 included controllers. USB adapter.
- Internal Storage: 512 GB
- Dimensions: 9.84 x 3.94 x 11.81 inches
- Resolution: 720p
When looking at gaming consoles for younger kids, you don’t always need the latest and greatest. In fact, sometimes simpler is better. That’s the case of the Sega Genesis Mini, which harkens back to an older time by delivering some of the best retro games ever made.
Outfitted with 42 extremely popular titles, the small console allows your kid to play many of the fun games you had growing up. Even if you didn’t play the Sega, they still get access to a wide variety of titles that will surely keep them interested for a long time.
The biggest downside with the Mini is that it’s not as strong or as flashy as a newer console. However, for younger kids looking to get into video games, it’s a perfect (and affordable) choice.
Game Console for Kids: What to Consider
Here is a list of factors that we recommend you take into account.
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.
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 Xbox One:
And this one is for PS4:
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.