Which gaming console is best for a young family? Xbox 360 with Kinect or Wii


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?



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  1. Alex says:

    Kinect is great but there is a caveat. If you’ve got a couple of young kids, it’s not really for you. Fifi has just turned 3 and is constantly wandering in front of the camera and confusing the hell out of it whilst the boy is playing. He’s 5 in April and plays a mean Kinect Adventures, so I would say it is suitable for 4/5 year olds.

    On the other hand, the Wii doesn’t suffer from the same sort of problem, but the plethora of buttons to press can get confusing for very young players.

    If you want to play good games, not bargain bin rubbish, it’s not as clear cut on the price either. 1st party games from Nintendo tend to hold their price very well and don’t often get reduced. For example, Mario Kart on the wii is about 4 years old but will still cost you £30. Good games tend to get reduced sooner on the xbox.

    If you want a good idea of where Kinect is going, there’s a video review of the Sesame St game towards the end of this vlog: http://youtu.be/uiFaiHzsMFQ
    Alex recently posted…Frittering your life away, one minute at a time with Xbox Live & YouTubeMy Profile

    • Thank you Alex for the great comments. Very valid points and I liked the idea of Once Upon a Monster… especially your wing-flapping demo. 🙂
      I am very interested to hear that the stated focus of some of the kids games is around their developmental needs. I look forward to better games coming out. These have potential to help guide parents in helping their children’s development.

  2. Thanks for the mention & pleased I could help. I am interested to see what others say about them. I agree with the above person on the Nintendo games holding their price we bought my oldest Mario Kart for Christmas with the kart as he loves Mario. But he also loves the Sesame Street Once Upon a Monster game. Both my 5 and almost 3 year old do. I look forward to seeing what you choose. x
    Susan Mann recently posted…January BluesMy Profile

    • Thanks again Susan! Very interesting input both via Twitter and here. These consoles have so much potential , beyond just the gaming aspect.
      I am curious of what the new Nintendo will be and how the Playstation Move will fit in the market. For the time being the competition is definitely between Wii and Kinect for families with pre-teens.

  3. Kate says:

    Hi Monika
    DH would definitely go for XBox360, because it has good compatibility with all his grown-up games. The kids *love* Kinect because they can talk to it and it has lots of animals, fairies etc. And, from my perspective, I don’t mind them spending time doing Kinect activities because I can see how much they are jumping around and being active/creative. You should see daughter on the electric guitar, she’s awesome.
    I agree with Alex, there is an issue with little people wandering across the path, but we don’t find it too bad. And god knows both kids will need excellent XBox discipline (sharing, giving up turns, etc.) in this house. They have competition from a 35-year-old.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Kate. I know your OH is a great gamer and has good insights. His views are definitely shaping our decision (and we are hoping for some extra pointers in the spring.;-) )

      I look forward to seeing your lovely daughter on the electric guitar… YouTube maybe? (TBH I am surprised she doesn’t already have her own channel- she’s such a little star.)

  4. We went with the kinect because though the issue of Jellybean wandering in can confuse things we always involve him and know that though he doesn’t fully get it now, at 2, it will help to teach him co-ordination long term and he loves bouncin around – often we just set it up as a camera, put some music on and let him watch himself dancing on the telly as he loves to see himself on the screen!

    You can get bargain bucket games, the downloadable demos are brilliant meaning often you don’t even need to buy the full game, it’ll be more suitable long term than the other options and it has some great games for the grown up children in the home!
    Elizabeth recently posted…Potty training updateMy Profile

    • Excellent tips Elizabeth! Thank you. How do you set it up in camera mode? That sounds like a great and simple way to keep the Littl’uns active.

  5. babyblueeyes04 says:

    Wow this has been very usefu,I will be showing this to my husband and wiLl go a long way in helping us to make the desision!! Just a quick piont,near us we have a store called GAME…there’s 2 actually one in both our local towns,they sell loads of pre-owned games,they all came with instructions in proper cases,they are of a much reduced price so if you don’t NEED to newest game right now popping into their store or checking online for pre-owned sometimes only a few wks after the game is realeased is a much more cost saving way of buying. 🙂

    • Great tip about the games! I am happy I could help your decision process. It’s not easy, especially with younger children.
      Let me know how you get on?

  6. Julia Robyn says:

    I would definitely go with Wii. It lets you play like a live person.

  7. We have both and find that the Wii is sometimes too confusing for the smaller ones. Kinect encourages interaction and lively give-and-take. No cheating allowed on this one, folks! Graphics are great and it appears that as our kids get older, it will easily scale up along with them.
    Noel Evans recently posted…Chairs For Gaming|Cheap Gaming Chairs|Bluetooth|Xbox One|REVIEWS!My Profile

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