What's the Best Game Console for Kids?

Whether you want portability, virtual reality, or family-friendly games, new game consoles offer a range of options to suit your needs. By Caroline Knorr
What's the Best Game Console for Kids?

If your kids are at the age where you're considering buying a game console, now might be the right time. Whether you want the immersive virtual reality of the Sony PlayStation or the portability of the Nintendo Switch, today's consoles offer more realism, interactivity, and flexibility than ever before. The question still remains: Which console is best for your family's needs?

Best for Families with Young Kids: Nintendo Switch

With games such as Super Mario Party, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, Octopath Traveler, or Mario Tennis Aces, as well as cool activity packs such as the Labo Toy-Con Variety Kit, Nintendo maintains its position as the best option for families to use together. The Switch works both as a stationary console that plugs into your TV and a portable gaming device with two built-in controllers and a touchscreen. While the Switch does offer its share of mature games, the console includes parental controls so you can help your kids regulate their use. Check out the Best Nintendo Switch Games for Kids.

Best for Tweens and Families: Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PS3

Both of these are older platforms, but there are plenty of games for them (although not necessarily the latest and greatest). Plus, you can find used and discounted models your kids can practice on before you invest in pricier, newer consoles.

For families with a mixed age range of kids, the 360 or PS3 may be better choices than newer, more advanced machines such as the Xbox One or PS4, as it'll give your younger kids some good options while keeping your older ones entertained. Of course, violent games such as Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty Black Ops 3, and Resident Evil, are available for each, but so are family-friendly titles such as Lego Dimensions and FIFA 17.

Here are some of our favorite games for families

Best for Tweens, Teens, and Serious Gamers: Microsoft Xbox One S, Xbox One X, Sony PlayStation 4, Sony PlayStation Pro

If your kids are really passionate about games, then these machines are the best -- if not the only -- choices. Keep in mind that, though there are plenty of games for each console designed for tweens and younger, the vast majority of Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 games are intense and mature.

Sony has the edge for serious gamer families with its PlayStation VR headset designed to work with the PS4 and PS4 Pro. PSVR provides a totally immersive, virtual reality game experience.

Xbox One S is a better choice for families who already own a lot of Xbox games, as it will play some Xbox 360 titles.

For more game suggestions, take a look at our list of Thought-Provoking and Nonviolent Games for Tweens and Teens, Nonviolent Games for PS4, Nonviolent Games for Xbox One, and the best video games for teens

About Caroline Knorr

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As Common Sense Media's parenting editor, Caroline helps parents make sense of what’s going on in their kids' media lives. From games to cell phones to movies and more, if you're wondering "what’s the right age for…?"... Read more

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Comments (34)

Kid, 11 years old

i'm a tween, so when i think gaming i think ps4. BUT, nintendo and xbox are good to. 3-7: nintendo. 8-45: playstaion. 9-45: xbox.
Teen, 13 years old written by Moviegirl700

I would say the retro Nintendo, which has the games built in, one built in game controller, and another that is battery operated. This has Marios, Pac-Man, and other games like Bubble Bobble, Kerbie, and others. For teens (even though this Nintendo will satisfy) Playstation 2 or 3s.
Kid, 10 years old

Nintendo Switch has the best games. It has original games (like Super Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild) and it has other ones that are on other consoles (like Skyrim and Doom). It's also good for a whole family, with family friendly games and mature games balanced, unlike Xbox and PlayStation which mostly has mature games. That's why the Nintendo Switch is the best!
Kid, 10 years old

Nintendo switch is getting less family-friendly with games such as Doom or Skyrim. although I want that game (skyrim VR)
Adult written by JustinParker

I mostly prefer for Xbox all the time. Though I had PS but use to play with my cousins Xbox. And it is quiet good in gaming experience for all the kids, depending upon choices. My brother had set all the gaming consoles from Mario to Pokemon. Which he had bought from the a popular site on Internet named Press-start, we have got a collection of all the favorite gaming consoles.
Adult written by Zack S.

Below is my opinion on the matter. First off, it's worth mentioning that PC gaming is the best for Graphical power and gaming library. However PC is far more expensive and complicated to deal with. Consoles are usually better for their ease of access and simplicity. All games are made to work for the specific console. Nintendo Handhelds - like the 3DS are probably the best for younger children. It's a cheaper and portable platform with very child friendly content. It's worth noting that Nintendo as a company are very contientious about the safety and well being of children. Nintendo Home Consoles - Like the Nintendo Switch, which is a home console and portable Hybrid. Nintendo is a good platform for local play, due to their large list party and multiplayer games Nintendo has a focus on family games, that are child friendly. It has titles that suit Teens, like Zelda and Metroid. However their list of games, (at least currently), are limited for the older teens/adults. But it is worth noting that just because the games are child friendly, doesn't mean they are unsuitable for adults. Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox are considered more adult focused. They have a large library of games that are considered unsuitable for children. There is a limited library of games that have an age rating below 12 years. When it comes to the differences, in my opinion they are far and few between. They both have a large list of excellent games. They are both more technically powerful with their specs, that closer resemble PC machines. They both have a large focus on online gaming, unlike Nintendo which promotes local multiplay. PlayStation has a larger library of Japanese games. Microsoft has recently announced that they will be supporting cross platform gaming (as with Minecraft), although this does exclude Sony. Just as a last note, I primarily play on the Nintendo Switch, as I dislike the gore and foul language in most of the current games. I disagree that Nintendo has no games for adults. Looking back at Pacman or Space Invaders, they were by no means solely for kids, but yet did not include mature adult content. Well... that's debatable I suppose, Pacman is literally eating up the ghosts, and in Space Invaders you are fighting in an all out interplanetary war!
Kid, 10 years old

I think the Nintendo Switch because Nintendo does make some adult games, but other than that most of their games are kid friendly. like , Just Dance, Snipperclips,and Mario to name a few. When most of the xbox ones/360s and PS4/PS3 games are shooting and fightning games like call of duty, when Nintendo is getting physical w/ wii sports, wii fit and 1 2 Switch. So thats why I think the Nintendo Switch is the best game console for kids!
Teen, 15 years old written by csm back at it agian

Oh please pc is the best though expensive there are the newest and variaty of all games including classics like the original doom and wolfenstine and they have tf2 portal csgo blackwake the new call of dutys and the classic ones its not how appropreat the game is its the quality. The best for young kids is the 3ds,switch and ps4 with ratchet and clank and little big planet for kids then the last of us and uncharted and horizon zero dawn for young teens and for older teens they have god of war bloodbourne and the upcoming dayz gone. How ever as an owner of a pc and xbox one if you dont want your kids to play games like gears of war or state of decay or dead rising 3 and 4 i wouldent reccomend it for famlies shure they have halo and forza and the new upcoming cupheads ans sea of theifs(which look super cool) and possibly crackdown 3 the xbox one dosent have much variaty as the ps4 the only games i play on it are non exclusive titles that dont run on my pc like battlefield 1 and forhonor and i love overwatch although id reccomend for pc and darksouls but it dosent offer the variaty of unique games a pc or ps4 does
Kid, 10 years old

I think that PS4 is the best console. Why? Because the graphics on the games are wayy better. Yes, I agree that the Xbox has more games BUT: It is quality, NOT quantity. I hope that I have helped you pick your child/ren the best console. A wii U and Nintendo are interesting for about a year and then become very boring!
Kid, 12 years old

You should honestly get a PC. The PC inspires more creativity by letting kids modify or create games to their own liking, something that can't be achieved on a console. Also, the PC community is much friendlier on PC than other platforms. Believe me, I've been on COD on both Xbox Live and on Steam (one of the PC's games distribution services) and everyone seemed much more mature on the PC than on Xbox Live.
Adult written by GoruchDiogenes

This. As a gamer of 30 years, PC is still the best. PC gamers have a reputation of being elitist and wealthy, and while it's true a decent video card can cost as much as an entire game console, it's not unjustified, since a decent PC is a universal device, while consoles are at best mid-range PCs that are locked down with outrageous restrictions and proprietary software. And PCs are invaluable teaching tools. Even when focusing on gaming, showing a kid how to set up MAME on an HTPC form factor or how to edit and load a Skyrim mod is worthwhile learning.
Adult written by Jack h.

Interesting! I found some better comparisons one of my favourite PS4 game .I spent my leasure time with playing the ps4 games and recently bought new Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from E4deal. Hope it will help you
Teen, 13 years old written by The sense

I own an Xbox 360 right now and I think its for serious gamers or for gamers who just want to have fun but the p.c is good for thinking because strategy games are on p.c but don't let your kids get steam access because on there is a bunch of jerks like this one guy just said to me on YouTube as me and some other people where talking about call of duty iw,s death and the good cods a random steam gamer just commented: cs:go little f--king f--got,on my comment.
Kid, 10 years old

Xbox 360 is ok I suggest pre owned it's cheaper also I suggest GameStop is where to get the best games
Parent of a 6 and 15 year old written by direlan

If you want to play with your family in the same room, the Wii U is the best optiob for any age. Mario Kart or Smash Bros. parties can be found with a bunch of 6 year olds, or in a collage dorm. If you want to interact with your family, go with Nintendo.
Parent of a 7, 7, and 11 year old written by tammrudy

This review and most of the reviews of games could be greatly improved by listing how many players each game can handle. It is not important unless you have more than 2 kids or host a few kids over on a playdate who all want to play. We try to buy games that are really multi-player (more than 2) so all of the kids can play together or we can play as a family...Many of the Mario World games and the Dance ones on WII U work well for that.
Adult written by GoruchDiogenes

Except for Resident Evil, Conker's Bad Furday, No More Heroes, Eternal Darkness. Even Majora's Mask and Metroid Prime were a bit more intense than most parents would be comfortable letting younger than 8-year-olds play.
Adult written by TroyG 1

I extremely disagree with these choices. Any kids I have will be brought up playing much better games on the PlayStation 1, PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Nintendo 64.
Teen, 13 years old written by Myboyee

Well, I see where you are coming from however those games are seriously outdated (1994 consoles!?) If you want your child to be able to play good games and more then get them a Windows 10 PC when they are old enough, otherwise try the newest Nintendo console. Just my recommendation as they will be ridiculed by the online community for growing up with those games if they decide to become a gamer.
Adult written by Phuz

Outdated? The whole world of tech is outdated. I used to play VR games in my local arcade 24 years ago. To me VR is totally outdated. Same with 3D TV's when they came out. I was watching 3D films at the cinema 20 years before (proper 3D, not the blue eye , red eye stuff). Old tech rehashed again two decades on albeit a more fluid experience and more compact hardware. Gameboy is almost 30 years old and where are we now? A gameboy equivalent with a colour screen and better graphics and probably a worse speaker. When I was a kid playing on my SNES and the VR and watching 3D films I remember thinking when I'm older it will be awesome, there won't be a TV it will be a room filled with 4D effects and complete 3D room projections that you can walk around and see from any angle, get cold when it was cold , feel wind in the windy scenes and total 360° sound. My expectations couldn't have been any further from the truth. All you are playing these days is prettier versions of consoles of the past. The Nintendo Wii brought something to the table with the motion controls. I believe if the Wii had top end hardware and was better thought out to cater for families and hard-core gamers it could have been a historical advance. The reality is the modern games aren't any better, just better graphics and different styles of play, however they are worse in a major way, as I will take reading text anyday over the cringy voice acting on virtually every modern high spec game. It is like sitting through a Hollywood flop. If you are being ridiculed for growing up playing on solid gaming systems you need to reassess what you are playing today. History repeating with virtually no innovation. Modern games are no more of a thrilling experience to me than it was playing A Link to the Past and Street Fighter 2 on the SNES I'm 38 now and feel like technology has gone nowhere. I think 1080p has been about the most exciting advance in the last 30 years.
Adult written by toukolou

Lol! You're right, the games you played as a youth were great, that's why they rehash them. But to suggest that the current versions aren't better than the originals is absurd. Just as it's absurd to equate the VR you experienced 24 yrs ago with the current VR technology. And I'm speaking as an almost 50yr old, who spent lots of time in arcades and played on tons of consoles (starting with the original Atari 2600). The Model T was a cutting edge innovation back in its day, and it got you from A to B just like modern day cars, but to suggest there's been no improvement because they still use the same gas pedal/brake pedal technology is ridiculous.