Gaming for 5 & 6 Year Olds

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • We are planning on buying a video game console for our older son's 6th birthday in a few months.  My husband loved video games as a kid and is looking forward playing his old favorite games and some new ones with our oldest boy (we currently don't have any games consoles at home).  Those of you with older kids and who tried the various consoles, what are the pros and cons of the various ones available in the market?  We are looking at the three major ones: Xbox, Wii, and playstation, but not sure which one to pick.  We hope to get one that is easy to play for a 6 year old, one that a child can play with an adult or another child together instead of having to take turns, one that has a large variety of fun games for early elementary age group and also fun games for an adult  and ones that a kid and adult can play together and both enjoy.  Any advice as to which of the three best meets what we are looking for?  (Please no advice to not get one at all as my husband already decided to get one to play together with our son, and I'm ok with it, so that decision has been made, now it is just a matter of which one). Thanks. 

    I have 2 sons ages 13 and 10 and I can only speak to x-box one and 360. All of the platforms are amazing compared to the old stuff. You need to research what games you want to play before you buy, it is a pricey investment for a 6 year old who has never played. Whatever you get will be obsolete in a matter of years most likely, anyway. Also, you will find that after your son finds a game he likes and becomes skilled at it, you will need to start limiting the time he plays because these things are like drugs for young boys, I have found. Oh yeah, and that thing about my husband sharing fun times playing the xbox with my son, it lasted about a month until my son was so much more skilled than my husband that it wasn't fun for either of them. We did not bring the xbox into our home until my older son was 9, and i wish we would have held off longer. The boys wake up early on weekends to start in playing, have found ways to play games (like GTA) shared by friends, that we don't allow, and they have already started to plead and work on us to allow them to play the heavy duty gun shooting games (like COD.)It started out innocently enough with the LEGO star wars and Harty Potter, KINECT movement games, Disney Infinity, etc. but they will finish each of those in a matter of months and become bored. The xbox is the source of most of the arguments in our house even though we limit the time they are on it, but that doesn't stop the boys from constantly pleading for more time, refusing to go with us to movies, restaurants, hikes on the weekend because it will eat into their "screen time." I honestly wish the machine would break, & then I wouldn't be the accursed villain for getting rid of it, which is what I long to do. BTW, my sons are both great students, active and healthy kids but totally addicted to the xbox. Best to you guys in your decision.

    I'd recommend a Wii U! There are lots of fun age-appropriate games for Wii U for 6-7 year olds, and of course for older kids and adults. There are variois styles of controllers available, including a touchscreen game pad, traditional controllers, the Wii style baton controllers, something for everyone little and big. My son, who just turned 7, is especially in love with Splatoon, Mario Maker, and Mario Kart 8. We all play together-- he loves it, and it's a little bit of a video game fix for me and my husband. ;) He also loves Legend of Zelda - The Wind Waker (a one player game, but we still play together and take turns and it is still tons of fun. Lots of puzzles. Our son needs a little help with some of the more difficult parts, but it's a challenge for him and I think that's a lot of the fun). We even occasionally play these games with our 3 year old (with help from the adults or his big brother). All of the older and newer Wii games are compatible with the Wii U system, including the sports games (we love Wii bowling!!), Rayman Origins, etc. There are a lot more kid-friendly titles out there, but the ones I've mentioned are just a few of our family favorites.

    I've also played both Xbox and Playstation through the years. I have nothing against these systems, and there are lots of great games available. But I'm much happier with the Wii U, and if you're specifically looking for something with a lot of family friendly games then I personally feel that it's one of the better options right now. Just my 2 cents, I hope it helps!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


5yo Fixated on his Nintendo DS

Feb 2012

I purchased a DS for 5yo son, hoping for an incentive for good behavior and loss of privileges for bad behavior. He's totally fixated. He wakes up thinking about it, it's the first thing he asks about all the time. I'm worried and want him to not be so intense about it. Any thoughts on how I can wean him? I created a monster

We have the same problem with iPods that Santa brought to our 5 and 7 year old sons. We are solving it nearly the same as with TV and other ''screen time.'' They need to ask permission before using them, they need to put them down when they are called to do something (or an appropriate amount of time has passed) or they are taken away. For us this works, but these are pretty normal rules in our house. Hope this helps

cold turkey. Like all addictions, it'll be hell for a bit, but it's the only way. He's just too young to be able to manage it. tough love

Set a schedule that allocates time that he can play with the Nintendo DS (this works for television too) and hold to it. He can check the DS in/out of storage with you. Write the schedule down on paper, and keep it in a 'rule book' binder, along with other written agreements/rules for behavior, play time, chores, clean-up etc. It just like any other 'contract' - to be enforceable, it needs to be written down, and it needs to be accessible to all parties to resolve disputes. You can use the exercise to help him work on organization, reading, time- telling/keeping skills - a nice redirect away from the DS. Dad

We bought our now-7-year-old a Wii for Christmas, and he too is fixated on it, a couple of games in particular, and wants to play all the time, talks about it when not playing, etc. We quickly had to set ground rules, particularly around playing before school and after homework. But now that it has been about six weeks, I think the obsessive part is starting to fade and balance more with other interests. I'm curious what others say. Bryan in Oakland

I would be very careful with the Nintendo DS. My rule for my son has been that he must learn to read before he can own a video game. My observation has been that the graphics are so mesmerizing and tantalizing to my son that he becomes a zombie when he is in front of a video game. Long story short. He reads. I give him books, specifically graphic novels, to look at in the car. My advice would be to take away the DS and buy some comic books or graphic novels to engage your son. Yes, he will throw a tantrum, but deal with the backlash and get him used to books. anon

Ahh, the DS... My kids have them too, and LOVE them. But they're older (10 & 12), so understand there's a time & a place. For a 5-year old, I would first decide when you want him to be able to use it (which days, times) and then make him a chart and put it up, with M-F, and which days & times he's allowed to use it. Then he'll know he can use it, for example, on Saturdays from 10-12 before soccer, and Wednesday afternoons, 3-5, after school...or whatever. If he knows when it's allowed, and knows what day it is, he won't have to constantly ask you. Berkeley mom

Good starter apps for a 6 year old?

July 2010

Does anyone have any recommendations for good starter software for kids? I'm thinking it's time to let my 6-year-old get more familiar with computers, but in a positive way. He is definitely the kind of kid who could be sucked into gaming, and I don't really want to go there at this point, but I want to him to start becoming familiar with something that will have to be a big part of his life someday. He has already had some exposure at school, but I thought I'd try something at home. I want it to be fun but still educational (no junior versions of grand theft auto). I have no idea how to choose.

My daughter was introduced to computer use through and in Kindergarten. Both web sites are educational and A LOT of fun. The pbskids pages involve characters they know from TV (Elmo, Caillou, dragon tales etc). Some games are aimed at developing reading skills, others challenge spacial thinking etc. I highly recommend them. Our then 3 year old learned to read by watching his big sister play on Heike