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Tough Choice for Parents: Which Gaming Console is Right for You?

How to pick the right video game system for my family?
This article is over 11 years old and may contain outdated information

Parenting is tough these days. In addition to all the steps you take to insure your kids’ wellbeing and safety, you now have to deal as well with dizzying number of technology choices.

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Nothing is clear-cut.

Some technologies are useful and educational, others are mindless and distracting and many can be both. Parents have a tough time deciding the right time to purchase these for their kids, between smart phones, tablets, laptops, desktops and gaming systems and budgets tight, you need some help insuring these major investment last as long as possible.

While video games have been widely discussed by parenting experts on every side of the issue, one thing is clear: parental involvement is essential to choosing the right games thus insuring our kids consume rated material that is appropriate for them. These choices by parents and caregivers have major implications in the future healthy decisions that our kids will make by themselves – the ultimate parent objective.

It is important to note that playing video games as a family truly strengthen the bonds that exist between its members and creates wonderful, long-lasting memories.

Following the recent announcements of new gaming consoles starting with the Nintendo Wii U, the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 – parents are now asked to choose between completely different ecosystems. This is not an individual gadget decision anymore, it’s about the initial investment and the future games and accessories you will be asked to purchase along the way because games from one console will not work on the other.

Here are 4 tips to help you decide which system is right for you:
  1. Age appropriate – the ESRB does a great job at providing parents with the tools they need to decide on the right games for their kids. However on the basis of the range of game options, if your kids are young, your choices should focus on the Nintendo Wii or the Xbox One since the Playstation 4 is considered more of a gamers device.
  2. Lifestyle –  Ask yourself whether you’d want to consider a more complete entertainment hub or you want this to be strictly used for playing games. If you want to Skype grandpa on Sundays, stream movies on your TV and perhaps even browse the Internet – you may need to consider the additional choices offered by Xbox and Playstation that will allow you to enjoy these options.
  3. Games – From puzzle, to racing, to dancing to shooting games – decide as a family which types of games you’d like to enjoy or you’d prefer for your kids to play. Since your decision on console will limit you – this is an important consideration to make before any purchase. Listen actively to your kids as they will have a lot of input on the games they want to have based on their friends’ recommendations. NEVER purchase an ‘M’ rated game for a child who does not meet the age requirement. Don’t be that parent.
  4. Budget – There are many ways to purchase a video game system – Our friends over at IGN created this simple comparison guide to help you decide whether you’re purchasing a stand-alone system or a bundled one (loaded with additional games usually at discounted prices). Decide what your budget will be and stick to it over the holidays. Create incentives for your kids to earn new games based on good grades, chores and other behaviors that you want to reward.

Parenting is a wonderful journey full of choices, remember that you need to be the person you want your child to become – play games on family night, switch them up between low tech card games and Need for Speed, Star Wars or Dance Central on the gaming console. Just get into it – you will be rewarded with a stronger bond and fun, long-lasting memories.

Do you have additional advice to share with other parents based on your experience? We’d love to hear from you here!

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