As the holiday gift-buying season approaches, parents will be cornered by their enterprising kids about their gift wish lists. And as technology and devices get better and more interesting each year, kids are sure to have one thing at the top of their list: an awesome video gaming console.
To help you with your gift-giving, we’ve put together a guide to help parents choose their kid’s first gaming system. And today’s platforms are simply loaded with features that make gaming much more sophisticated and fun.
Utilizing high-speed internet, such as the fiber network provided by NHTC, gaming consoles, and similar devices can enable phenomenal gaming experiences and activities you couldn’t have dreamed of when you were a child.
Below we discuss features every parent should consider when choosing a gaming system for their kids. We also highlight some of the best gaming systems on the market today.
Gaming System Features Parents Should Consider
Before we discuss our top gaming system recommendations, we want to highlight certain features that are most important to parents before they shop for gaming systems.
Specifically, our top factors are:
- Ease-of-Use (especially the gaming interface)
- Parental Controls and Settings
- Game Variety and Availability
Let’s face it: in a house with children, whatever gaming system you choose will get bumped around.
A well-designed and constructed console has durable parts that resist the occasional rattles and the less-than-tender touch of kids. All of our recommendations below are durable, though one is probably more kid-friendly than the others.
Many grown-ups are even intimidated by new technology. The console’s interface is crucial, so you don’t have to constantly help your child sign in and out and find their favorite games.
Other factors like the size, weight, and ergonomic design of the controllers are also important when choosing a console for kids. If you are primarily concerned about this, take your child to a store to handle the controller first before you buy.
Parental Controls and Settings
Most gaming consoles have parental controls letting you set content limitations to appropriate age-rated games. Parental settings also allow limitations on playing against others online (such as limiting other online players to preapproved contacts only), another feature that may give parents peace of mind.
Breadth and Variety of Available Games
Choosing a system with the games they most want to play may be the essential feature for your kids. This can get tricky, as some gaming consoles cannot access games on other systems and vice versa. It’s wise to learn what games your child is most interested in playing before you choose a system.
Top Three Recommended Gaming Consoles for Kids
We next turn to our top three choices and highlight their key features
Widely considered one of the most powerful and best-performing gaming consoles ever created, Sony’s PlayStation 5 (PS5) stands out from the crowd.
Its graphics capabilities are simply stunning, and its hardware delivers seamless performance for today’s advanced games. Like previous models, it has a Blu-ray player, which may provide extra value for movie nights.
The PS5 carries many exclusive gaming titles on demand and is “backward-compatible” with the previous model, the PlayStation 4 (PS4). It is also quite durable and can withstand regular usage for years.
However, the PS5 only comes with just a single controller. If you have more than one child who wants to play, you’ll have to purchase a second controller separately.
And the PS5 is very pricey and sells out quickly. In fact, the PS5 goes out of stock so frequently that shoppers wait months to get one—and just as often give up and choose another console instead. So before setting your heart on the PS5, allow yourself enough time to find one.
Xbox Series X
Another top gaming system is Microsoft’s Xbox Series X.
You will discover dedicated Xbox fans defending their console of choice over others, and not without good reason. Like PlayStation, the Xbox has outstanding graphics, power, and a huge library of games to play.
However, what distinguishes Xbox from its competitors is Game Pass, a subscription-based service that makes playing games cheaper in the long run for many players. Game Pass and its vast library are usually the top reason gamers of all ages choose the Xbox over a PlayStation.
One drawback is many players don’t like Xbox controllers because they feel heavier. Some younger kids may find its controller a bit on the heftier side for their hands to properly manage for longer gaming sessions.
Also, measure the space you intend to place the console in carefully, as the Xbox Series X console is bulky. The Xbox also tends to go out of stock often, so be mindful of this when you look to shop.
Nintendo Switch OLED
We’ve saved the best for last. We believe the Nintendo Switch OLED is the top choice for a first gaming system.
The Switch’s compact design includes two controllers, making it instantly playable for multiple people. Its vast library of games has many titles geared toward younger players and titles that teens and grown-ups can enjoy. It’s also cheaper than the PS5 and Xbox, making it a better choice for parents watching their budgets.
But what truly sets the Switch OLED apart is that it also doubles as a portable handheld device, complete with a 7-inch display.
That means your kids don’t have to be planted in front of the TV to play—they can even play it outside or on long car rides! This portability factor makes the Nintendo Switch OLED a great option for kids.
But that portability comes with a couple of cons. While still quite admirable, the Switch’s graphics and power cannot compete with that of the PlayStation 5 or Xbox. And while Nintendo’s library of games is quite good—and still growing—it is missing some games that only a PS5 offers.
As you can see, there are solid gaming system options available.
A parent may decide to hold off on the PS5 or Xbox until their children are older and can enjoy the advantage of some of those systems’ exclusive titles and outstanding power and graphics.
That’s another reason the Nintendo Switch OLED may be the best for a first gaming system.
But if you can find a PS5 or Xbox in stock, value their exceptional graphics and performance, and know that your children really want some of the PS5 or Xbox’s exclusive titles, then either of those may be the right choice this holiday season.
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