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What’s the best game console for your kids?

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters via Unsplash.

The holidays are in full swing, and kids are making their wish lists as we speak. Toys, devices, and video game consoles make the list every year. Not sure where to start? Check out this list of recommended game consoles for you and your family. – Jennifer Ehehalt, Pittsburgh Regional Manager at Common Sense Media. You can find her on Twitter @Jehehalt.Common Sense Media.

By Caroline Knorr

Common Sense Media

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 AutoCall 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.

Click here for 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.

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How to Set Parental Controls on the Nintendo Switch

In a field including the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, the Nintendo Switch comes out as the best game console for families with younger kids. Its ultra-user-friendly design, wide selection of kid-appropriate games (including the cardboard-building and programming Labo kits), and ability to bring it along wherever you go make it a smart "starter" system the whole family can play together. Nintendo also pioneered the idea of parental controls for gaming (the Wii had them, and so does the 3DS).

While you can set parental controls on the console itself, the Switch Parental Controls app offers more settings. Learn more about using parental controls. To use the app, download and launch the Switch app from the app store. Create a Nintendo account, if you haven't already, and link the app to your device. 

Here's a quick guide to key settings to enable parental controls on the Nintendo Switch:

Time Limits

How to set time limits on the Nintendo Switch system using the Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app
With the Switch's Play-Time Limits, you can either trust your kids to stop playing when they've hit their limit or enable Suspend Software which shuts down the device automatically.

  1. Open the parental controls app.
  2. Tap Console Settings in the upper-right corner.Create a PIN that only you know and your kids can't guess.
  3. In Console Settings, tap Play-Time Limit. Set a daily limit (up to six hours) on the amount of time your kids can play.
  4. You have the option of shutting down the device when your kids reach their daily limit by enabling Suspend Software. Otherwise, kids just get a notification that they've reached the limit but can still play.
  5. You can also enable a Bedtime Alarm to shut down the device at a certain time each day. (If you have both a Play-Time Limit and a Bedtime Alarm set, the system uses whichever comes first.)
  6. Confirm and save your settings.


How to turn off voice chat on the Nintendo Switch system using the Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app
You can also turn off other social features.

  1. Open the Switch Parental Controls app and tap Console Settings.
  2. Tap Restriction Level. You can either select one of the age presets, which automatically disables social features for kids 12 and under, or select Custom to manually adjust the settings.
  3. Under Restriction Level you can turn off Communicating with Others and Posting to Social Media.
  4. Confirm and save your settings.

Mature Content

How to limit mature content on the Nintendo Switch system using the Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app
This will prevent kids from being able to play Mature-rated games.

  1. Open the Switch Parental Controls app and tap Console Settings.
  2. Tap Restriction Level. Select one of the age presets (Child, Pre-Teen, or Teen), which automatically restricts certain features, such as chatting and posting to social media, and limits games based on their ESRB ratings. If you want to manually select an age instead of using the presets, select Custom Settings, tap Restricted Software, and choose the age for which you want to restrict content.
  3. You can add games to the "Whitelist" to make them playable for all ages, regardless of their rating.
  4. Confirm and save your settings.


How to restrict Nintendo eShop purchases on the Nintendo Switch system using the Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app
This will block spending and auto-renewals on both the Nintendo eShop and on

  1. Open the Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app.
  2. Tap on Console Settings.
  3. Toward the bottom of the screen below where it says "ATTENTION," click on the link to Parental Controls in Nintendo Account.
  4. Select your child's Nintendo account.
  5. Select Spending/Purchases on Nintendo Switch eShop and
  6. Check the box to disable purchases.
  7. Confirm and save your changes.
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Why the characters of Nintendo’s ARMS are designed to last

Mario, Pac-Man, Link, Megaman, Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and Ryu are all iconic characters. Not Ubisoft iconic, but designs that have actually withstood the test of time, and still remain in the gaming public’s collective consciousness all these years later. A large part of why these characters have become such familiar faces is their visual simplicity and brilliant use of color, which makes it easy to conjure up accurate mental images of them. For that reason, among others, you can go ahead and add the cast of Nintendo’s ARMS to that list. Continue reading Why the characters of Nintendo’s ARMS are designed to last→

ARMSFGCFighting gamesNintendoNintendo SwitchSwitchARMS will be Nintendo’s next Splatoon-like success

With fantastic character designs and an atypical take on shooters, Splatoon set the Japanese market ablaze and sold almost 5M copies around the world. That may not sound like much compared to Call of Duty’s almost guaranteed 15M for every release, but Splatoon was a brand new, kid friendly shooter IP, exclusive to the dying Wii U. People originally thought it was going to flop harder than Wonderful 101, so 4.8M (at least ) is a huge accomplishment.

Now there’s ARMS, a fighting game that follows in the footsteps of Splatoon, bringing us stylish new characters and a fresh take on the fighting game genre. Continue reading ARMS will be Nintendo’s next Splatoon-like success→

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