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Introducing children to gaming from an early age is important. It’ll help to stimulate their brains, amplify their creativity, and give them something to do on bored and rainy afternoons. While moderation is, of course, important, gaming can be a beneficial hobby for young kids, and it can also help them to interact with their peers as well, thus advancing their social development.
With that in mind, you want to make sure that you’re buying the best game consoles out there for small kids. Our headline for this article might refer to 5-year-olds, and that’s really the sweet spot when you should start introducing gaming to your little one, but the best game consoles for 5-year-olds are also the best game consoles for other small kids. Without further ado, let’s take a look at your options as a parent when it comes to gaming!
The first and most obvious option when it comes to a great gaming console for a 5-year-old would be the Nintendo Switch Lite. The Switch, in general, has an excellent library of games; from Super Mario Odyssey through to Splatoon and even games for super-young kids, the Switch has a great range of software that your kid can enjoy as they grow up.
The Switch Lite is the better choice than the standard Switch, in our opinion. The plastic housing means that your kid is going to have a harder time damaging the Switch accidentally; dropping it may still be a no-go, but if they bash it against something or drop it from a small height, it should survive. With great games, sturdy build quality, and a simple user experience, the Switch Lite is the best games console for kids out there right now.
Although the 3DS has been continued, don’t count it out just yet; it should still be easy to find a 3DS pre-owned at a variety of stores wherever you live, and it’s still an excellent console with plenty to offer. If your child hasn’t experienced the joys of playing Mario Kart handheld, or guiding Mario through a series of levels in Super Mario 3D Land, then a 3DS should be your first purchase.
The 3DS also has the benefit of being incredibly sturdy and resilient, so there’s almost no way your child will be able to damage it. Nintendo consoles have a reputation for being extremely well-built; remember the Game Boy that somehow survived a Gulf War bombing? The 3DS might not quite be as strong as that, but it will survive pretty much anything you can throw at it.
Alright, so the Amazon Fire 7 Kids isn’t technically a games console. Still, we think it’s one of the best choices out there when it comes to giving younger kids a great gaming experience; it’s surrounded by padded foam, so dropping it won’t be an issue at all, and it offers access to a huge range of apps, as well as allowing you to control and customise your kid’s experience as a parent.
Your child won’t want for things to do if you pick up a Fire 7 Kids tablet, either; it comes with a year of Amazon Kids+, which is a subscription service offered by Amazon. Said service comes complete with thousands of different apps, which include games your kid can play. It’s not just games, though; you’ll also find video services like CBeebies and Disney on here as well.
Again, while the Wii has technically been discontinued, we’d still call it an excellent choice for a gaming console if you’re buying for a very, very young child. While older kids might not be very patient with the Wii’s outdated graphics, a younger child will find plenty to love in games like Wii Sports, which use motion controls to provide an immersive and entertaining experience.
The Wii also has the benefit of having a massive software library; it was one of the most popular consoles of its era, so you’ll find everything from hardcore shooters all the way through to games perfect for young kids. This means your child’s Wii will be their constant companion as they age. Like the 3DS, finding a Wii at a pre-owned shop somewhere in your country shouldn’t be too hard.
Thanks to the might of Xbox Game Pass, an Xbox Series S is a no-brainer purchase for a 5-year-old. You will probably need to help them operate the console, because the user interface is a little tricky, but hey; if your child is gaming at that age, you’ll probably be supervising them anyway. The Xbox Series S is tiny, so it doesn’t have a big footprint in your home, and it comes with a huge library.
Xbox Game Pass is where you’re going to get your money’s worth here. For a relatively small price, you’ll get access to a massive trove of games through your Series S, any of which you can download and play whenever you like. These include kids’ games from franchises like Paw Patrol, as well as games you yourself can play if you’re a gamer. The Series X is the beefier prospect, but the Series S is perfect for younger gamers.
If you want to “invest” in your child’s future when it comes to gaming, then a PlayStation 5 is probably the soundest prospect right now. Sony’s console is brimming with great exclusives, including games like Ratchet and Clank, and although it doesn’t necessarily cater to a younger audience, kids will still find plenty to love among the ranks of games available on the PlayStation Store.
PlayStation Plus recently got a revamp, too, and now it works somewhat similarly to Xbox Game Pass, granting you access to a range of games if you subscribe to the second tier. These include plenty of titles that should be great for younger kids, so make sure to take a look through the PlayStation Plus catalogue if you are lucky enough to get your hands on a PS5.