gaming consoles for children

The internet has changed the world of gaming. As well as being able to play against people in other locations, today’s games consoles allow you to do a multitude of other activities online.

When selecting a console to purchase, it’s important to think about who in the family will be using it, where it will be used and the type of content you’re happy for your children to have access to.

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Pornography

of gaming console traffic to pornhub.com in 2014 were through Playstation and Xbox consoles ¹

Ratings

of PEGI rated games were rated ‘violent’ in 2015 ²

Connectivity

of children regularly use a games console connected to a television ³


Five things you should consider when buying a console

Age appropriateness

Different games consoles are best suited to different ages. Some, such as the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, have a greater number of games suitable for younger children than, for example, the Xbox One and PlayStation models.

Online purchases

Almost all consoles connect to each platform’s online app or game store, which can be used to buy and download games. Each therefore has an option to prevent a child accidentally buying a game or spending money through in-game purchasing. Some have this on as a default but you can adjust this when you set parental controls.

Multiplayer networks

Many games on new consoles feature online multiplayer gameplay. This means the player is competing against or with other players over the internet and often involves interaction, either via instant messaging and/or voice communications via headsets. This can be restricted using parental controls settings to avoid children playing against people they don’t know, which could open them up to the risk of grooming or bullying.

Parental controls

Most new consoles connect to the internet so you should set up parental controls straight away to ensure your child doesn’t access inappropriate content. The Internet Matters tool gives you step-by-step guides for different types of console.

Standby mode

Consoles also require an internet connection to download updates. Some have stand-by modes that allow them to remain connected to the internet and download content even when they’re not in use. You can prevent this by turning the device off (through an on screen option or physical power button).

How do I know if a game is appropriate for my child?

Like films, all games have their own official age classification. The “PEGI” rating will appear on the box and helps you to ensure a game is suitable for your child. You might also want to check online reviews to be sure there aren’t themes or areas you feel uncomfortable with.

Click here to read more about PEGI ratings.

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Consoles to consider for your child

Here are some reviews of games consoles currently available with pointers on the age they’re appropriate for, what online activities they allow, and the types of games that can be played on them.

We’ve reviewed (in ascending age-appropriate order):

Nintendo Switch

A great family console for home and away

The Nintendo Switch is unique in that not only is it a home games console, when plugged into an included dock, it also sports its own 6-inch touchscreen and attachable controllers.

That means you can play the same games on the remote screen when out and about as on your TV. The Joy-Con controllers are also detachable, so two children can play games at the same time without additional accessories.

It costs around £280 without a game.

One thing that generally strikes Nintendo apart from other games machine manufacturers is it understands the value in family gaming. The parent controls on the Switch are second to none, therefore – even coming with a separate app for iOS and Android to adjust the options.

It is also a closed ecosystem in that there is no internet browser and playing games with others online is restricted to approved friends only.

Click here for a step-by-step guide to setting up parental controls on the Nintendo Switch

See full review on Pocket-lint site

Nintendo 2DS XL

The last swansong for handheld gaming

Nintendo has been making its 3DS series of handheld games consoles for more than six years, so it was always inevitable that it would end someday. But in the 2DS XL, it is going out with a bang. The clamshell, two screen design looks like the larger 3DS in style but ditches the three-dimensional talents of the top screen.

This makes it more suitable for younger players and presents a colourful decent graphical experience rather than a gimmick. And with many 1,000s of compatible games already available – many of which heavily discounted – the 2DS XL is the finest portable games console of its generation.

Will set you back around £130.

There are online capabilities of the 2DS XL – much like the 3DS variants before it – but as with the Switch, the parental controls are excellent. You can restrict online purchases and internet browsing to age-specific guidelines and PIN protect content you don’t wish your child to access.

For full  review visit Pocket-lint site

Xbox One S

Great home entertainment machine for all

Although there is now a more advanced version in the 4K-enabled Xbox One X, the One S is a great option for the budget conscious family who want an all-round entertainment machine. It plays games in up to Full HD (1080p) but can also be used as a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

And with many entertainment apps, including Netflix and Amazon Video, it works as a smart streaming device too. There are also 1000s of games available for Xbox One and you can also play hundreds of older Xbox 360 games on the console too, which is great for those looking to upgrade.

It is available for around £230.

As with any connected device, the Xbox One S gives access to the internet and online apps. Many of the games are also playable online, so you need to supervise when children are playing them to ensure they do so safely. Thankfully, there are also plenty of parental controls to restrict access to online activities and age-inappropriate games.

Click here for a step-by-step guide to setting up parental controls on the Xbox One.

See full review from Pocket-lint site

Playstation 4

The number one games machine in the world

There are two versions of the PlayStation 4 available today, a standard model and a PS4 Pro, with 4K graphics and more power under the hood. However, all PS4 games will run on either machine and look great no matter which version you opt for.

As with the Xbox One, you get apps for streaming videos, such as Netflix and Amazon Video, but this console is more geared for gaming than all-around entertainment. It is also the biggest selling console in the world right now, so games support is mighty.

You can get one for around £230.

There are two versions of the PlayStation 4 available today, a standard model and a PS4 Pro, with 4K graphics and more power under the hood. However, all PS4 games will run on either machine and look great no matter which version you opt for.

As with the Xbox One, you get apps for streaming videos, such as Netflix and Amazon Video, but this console is more geared for gaming than all-round entertainment. It is also the biggest selling console in the world right now, so games support is mighty.

Click here for a step-by-step guide to setting up parental controls on the PS4.

See full review on Pocket-lint site

Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Nintendo Entertainment System

A superb blast from the past

The original Super Nintendo (SNES) original came out in the UK in 1992, so many parents have fond memories of it. Nintendo understands that yearning for retro thrills and has, therefore, re-released a smaller, modern reworking of the original console.

It contains 21 classic games from the 90s, including Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, and Star Fox, and comes with two controllers modelled on the originals. If you want your kids to experience the same great games you remember, you can’t get much better than this.

It is priced from £70.

The console is an all-in-one unit with no access to the internet. The games are included and locked to the machine, so you cannot add any more. However, this also comes with the safety of knowing that a child will not encounter any untoward behaviour.

Multiplayer is still available through good, old-fashioned, same-room two-player action. Great for all the family.

See full review on Pocket-lint site