This question of which gaming console to choose for a family with young children has been on my mind for over a year: The Wii or the Xbox 360 with Kinect?
The first question to ask is why would I want a console with children aged 3 and 4 years old?
That’s a complex issue. There is the social aspect- friends have one and really enjoy using theirs. Then our children are growing up in a increasingly technical world and getting them used to enjoying technology might help them later on in their life.
However, the main reason: I am keen to encourage the children to be active, for exercise to be a part of their daily routine. Yet on some miserable wet or cold days I, myself, prefer to stay inside. How can I then expect them to want to go out? This is where these consoles come in- both the Wii and the Kinect were invented to get people off the couch and have some great fun bopping around.
So now the question is which one is better for young children of 3 and 4? My initial list of pros and cons for the Wii and the Xbox with Kinect consoles were the following:
Xbox 360 with Kinect
|Pros||- reputation for having better games for under 6- the balance board is great and can be used in versatile ways (I used it at physiotherapy for rehab for my severely injured knee)
– cheaper (almost half the price of the Kinect)
|- with the Kinect it represents newer technology- you cannot cheat with the Kinect- you have to move your whole body!
– there are no accidentally flying remotes (unless you purposely throw the controller out of frustration of loosing)
– No plethora of controllers to get
|Cons||- old technology – 5 years old technology, (new version planned for spring, but not much detail is available about this)- remote is known to fly out of kids hands, straight into TV screen
– you can learn the cheats and then don’t have to do the full body movements (my 4 year old already figured this out on a running game, when we played at friends’)
|- more expensive- not many games aimed at the very young gamer market.*|
*However, it seems the Kinect is getting more games for young children recently.
Going into the shops doesn’t help in making an informed decision. I found most of the salesmen there are the wrong demographic (mid 20s, not much insight into the needs of younger children, either big time gamers themselves or just about able to give standard blurb). So it turned online and did my research there still coming up with mixed results.
I also asked my social networks. One of my online friends, Susan Mann, who is also an Xbox Live ambassador, was very helpful. I put my list of pros and cons to her. They have all three (!) major consoles (Xbox 360 with Kinect, Playstation and the Wii) at home and her husband is an avid gamer. So here was their verdict:
“There are lots more than just gaming with the Xbox, especially with the new Live features being introduced. There is probably a lot more games coming out for the Kinect for younger ones. The graphics are good, but more importantly it will grow more with your children. There are wider ranges of games which they can get as they get older. I find the Wii games are all pretty similar. The balance board works well but not as good as the Kinect. I never thought about the controller issue and you are right you could loose them through the tv screen. The Wii is cheaper however it won’t last as long as the Xbox, in my opinion.”
Thank you Susan!
What is your opinion on consoles for young children? Totally unnecessary?
Do you have one? Which one and why did you choose it?