Gaming, in just about every form, is bigger than ever, and there are no signs that the rate of growth is going to slow down any time soon.
And unsurprisingly, young children seem to be much more open to the prospect of playing video games. These children are digital natives, after all, and video games are simply part of the world they were born into.
Even kids under the age of 10 probably have friends from school who play games already, which can lead to some natural curiosity.
When a young child asks their parents for a gaming console, it can make for a big discussion.
But if you’ve decided that you do want to gift a console, you might be wondering which console is the best choice for your child.
This article, in particular, will focus on finding the best video game console for a 7 year old, but in our opinion, these arguments and factors apply just as well to consoles for kids between the ages of 5 and 10.
Twenty years ago, the easy answer to this question probably would have been a Nintendo handheld console, specifically the Game Boy Color or the subsequent Nintendo DS.
But there are a lot of options out there today, and those options include non-handheld consoles meant for connection with televisions or monitors.
But before we reveal our pick for the best console for 7 year olds, we’d like to explain the major factors we took into account when making our selection.
Factors We Considered
Screen Time Concerns
Here in the 2020s, screen time concerns have become quite serious, especially for children.
There are a number of problems that can arise from prolonged exposure to blue light and the content being consumed via various screen-based devices.
And when it comes to kids playing video games, many parents are rightfully hesitant to expose their children to a hobby that can very easily become an unhealthy obsession.
As such, we considered how each relevant gaming console allows parents to limit the screen time and usage of these devices. We also considered how the devices themselves can be limited or removed, if need be.
Of course, there are no hard and fast rules for how much screen time a child should be allowed per day.
There are certainly guidelines, but no one knows your child better than you do, so it’s worth experimenting to find what works best for everyone.
Let’s face it: kids can be hard on their toys and games. Any parent who’s ever had their smartphone thrown to the floor by a small child can attest to that.
And where video game consoles are concerned, durability is a major factor to keep in mind.
These are complicated devices, with each one essentially serving as its own game-dedicated computer. Not to mention, the cost of repairing or replacing these consoles can be an expensive affair.
We tried to look for consoles that are durable themselves and that also offer durable controllers.
Probably one of the most important things to keep in mind when purchasing a gaming console for your child is which games they wanted to play in the first place.
It’s actually a pretty complicated topic, but not every console can play every game. If you end up buying a console that doesn’t support your child’s favorite games, it could lead to some disappointment or even the hassle of working out a return, especially if the box has already been opened.
Certain larger games, such as Fortnite, are supported by every major console currently on the market, but it’s worth asking your child about the games they most want to play before purchasing a console.
Lastly, we paid a great deal of attention to the affordability of various consoles, not just in terms of suggested retail price but also their average prices on resale websites like eBay.
All consoles are relatively expensive, but certain brands are definitely more affordable than others.
Our Choice: Nintendo Switch Lite
With all of these factors taken into consideration, we choose the Nintendo Switch Lite as the best video console for 7 year olds.
Right up front, we need to make it clear that the Switch Lite isn’t technically it’s own console and platform, but simply a specific hardware model of an existing console: the Nintendo Switch.
The standard Nintendo Switch, which sells full price for $300, is built around its hybrid nature. It can work as a handheld gaming console, usable anywhere on Earth as long as it has enough battery, and it can also work as a standard living room console that connects to a TV.
The standard Switch also has two detachable mini-controllers that can be used as one standard controller or as two separate controllers with limited capabilities.
The Switch Lite is more limited than the standard Switch, and its price reflects that.
The Switch Lite sells at full price for $200, and you can easily find one used for significantly less.
So the Lite can’t display games on the TV, and its controllers can’t be disconnected from the device.
Yes, this limits functionality, but it also makes the device, as a whole, more durable, since it eliminates certain points of failure.
One of the most glaring exceptions to the device’s overall durability and build quality is that its analog control sticks seem to be suffering a drift malfunction; a similar malfunction has affected the included standard Switch controllers as well.
This means that, after about a year of hard use, the control sticks may stop working as intended, requiring repair from an official Nintendo repair center.
Outside of that, we would recommend purchasing a case for the console so that it can travel safely.
As for games, the Switch ecosystem is incredibly healthy at the moment. The system has sold more than 80 million units worldwide since 2017, and this has generated a huge amount of support from game developers and publishers.
In other words, there are just a ton of games that can be played on the various hardware versions of the Switch.
Nintendo also offers fairly robust parental controls for the Switch. It’s possible to easily monitor total play time on the device through your smartphone, and you can also set alarms when time is up, or even have the device suspend games when the limit has been reached.
Also, you should keep in mind that the Switch and the Switch Lite are not the most powerful gaming consoles on the market, so the image quality and overall performance on some more complex games won’t be very impressive.
But we haven’t found that many kids are sticklers for image quality or framerates, unless they’ve learned it from some of their peers.
All things considered, the Nintendo Switch Lite is an affordable and high-quality video game console that works incredibly well for children under 10.
There’s also the added benefit of Nintendo’s reputation for family-friendly games and storefronts.
The Switch online shop (the eShop) does indeed offer some games for more mature players, but with parental controls in place, young players won’t be able to access these games or purchase games at all if you don’t allow them to.
The Switch Lite is one of the best gaming options for kids currently on offer.