What Is An Appropriate Age For Kids To Start Gaming?

This is something that has been on my mind for quite some time now. I have often wondered what is a suitable age for kids to start gaming of any sort.

Here I am concerntrating very hard playing XBOX

The main reason I wonder about this is because having been an avid gamer for many years, going way back to the GameBoy days, and eventually leading to Xbox, which was my preferred platform for gaming, I was without a doubt at a certain point obsessed with playing my Xbox. In fact I was so obsessed to the point where I even had the logo tattooed on my upper arm! There was definitely a particular period in my life where everything revolved around the latest game. I play on my Xbox every day, and would often play well into the night, and then of course I’d have little sleep and have to be up early the next dat to go to work.

The biggest issue with gaming for me was that I found, as an adult, it was often frustrating, annoying and just plain irritating, especially if things didn’t go to plan it, and this would often put me in a bad mood, especially if the game hadn’t saved properly or there was an issue with getting past a particular point in the game. This could make me very bad tempered.

So about three or so weeks ago my six year old twin girls started playing Animal Crossing on the Nintendo DS. This got me thinking a lot more about what an appropriate age is for kids to start gaming.

Initially the girls were absolutely fine about playing the game, but then all of sudden as soon as they woke up they were looking for the Nintendo to start playing Animal Crossing before they’d even had breakfast. This has really bothered me and it reminded of myself and how obsessive gaming can be.

The other morning the girls were taking it in turns to play and I was sitting in the middle of them when M did something on the game, and the screen just went blank. It instantly wound her up, and I could see her slowly going into meltdown. Thankfully the game came back on and a meltdown was averted, but then about 10 minutes later R was playing her game and she did something wrong, and unfortunately a meltdown came with tears and anger.

This really actually upset me and I thought to myself yes, at six years old, they are too young for gaming of any sort, and the reason being is that it can be frustrating and very annoying for an adult, but children at six years old are not simply not capable emotionally of dealing with that kind of frustration. It’s time for the Nintendo DS to go away for a few years I think.

Of course that doesn’t mean that we will stop them using some form of technology because of course we will, but in a controlled environment by us. The world of technology is their world and they must embrace it because it will be very important in their lives. It’s all about how much they use it and I think a gradual introduction is vital in my humble opinion.

After I wrote this article I was chatting in general to my 19 year old son and he mentioned to me that he gets a lot of back and neck pain. Which he is convinced is down to playing Xbox since he was about 11 years old, sometimes for hours on end. I’m not sure myself, but you are bent over playing and the neck and upper back certainly take a pounding, when you are gaming. So it’s totally feasible that it could cause long term pain in that area of the body. It’s definitely food for thought.

I would love to know your thoughts.

23 thoughts on “What Is An Appropriate Age For Kids To Start Gaming?

  1. This is a hard one. I think I started gaming around 7 and I still game on my PS4 now. I get times where I don’t have time and I go months not playing.

    Anyway my son is 4 and he has no chance haha. Plenty of time to game when he’s older. Only game he plays is board games and his toys. But as for an age that’s appropriate I really don’t know. 10?

  2. I’d say it’s the same as everything, moderation. Screen time, gaming, chocolate and everything else when you’re a child is all about moderation. You could take the view of using gaming as part of the process of teaching/learning about emotions, frustration etc.

    I definitely think gaming can cause physical issues, the same as me sat here at my desk blogging all day, it kills my back! However, your lad could just be putting the seeds into play ready to ask for a pro gaming chair… HA!

    #ThatFridayLinky

  3. I am so unbelievably unqualified to answer this question! My gaming experience is limited to a Saga Game Gear and an original PS1. Sonic, Crash Bandicoot and FIFA is about all I ever played. I was never seriously into it at all. Therefore, our girls haven’t grown up with Daddy gaming or Mummy for that matter. It’s, therefore, something that hasn’t entered their lives, save for the time-passing games on their phones (teenagers). I would say, at whatever age they start gaming, that it’s important to impose some time restirctions, and build that habit within them to not play excessively.
    #ThatLinkyFriday

  4. I hear about the kids friends who have gaming consoles and tablets and I think they’re too young for them but there is pressure to keep up with their friends and to have the same as them
    my kids go on games on my phone now and again, not very often but I downloaded youtube kids and it was the first thing I could’ve done they would sit there face on screen practically watching it and they would have watched it for hours if i’d allowed it I now limit them and set an alarm on my phone usually tens minutes and they have to give it back then which are they are pretty good at.
    I am going to hold off as long as possible on getting any consoles/tablets for them as I really do feel it can badly affect their wellbeing and mental health
    #ThatFridayLinky

  5. It’s funny our daughter was never a gamer … but she is obsessed with the social stuff on her phone, like any teen. Our fan is a big Fortnite player, but also plays a lot of football. We never let them play in their rooms, so we know what our boy is at at least! #ThatFridayLinky

  6. Urgh I was a huge fail in this area. It all started well and my son in particular loved the racing games and we saw no harm in them. As a teenager though the games got pretty dark. I do remember however, that it brought up opportunities to discuss violence, prostitution, road rage and more. It was my sons worse nightmare, having his mum sitting at the edge of his bed wanting a deep discussion about the rights and wrongs when all he wanted to do was shoot up the bad guy. I have no advise – it’s not my strong parenting area – although he has turned out to be the most thoughtful young man (and has huge respect for women) so no harm done in the long run!

  7. It’s tricky. They feel the pressure at such a young age. Little Man has been asking about Fortnite because he’s heard them talking about it at school. I’ve told him no chance – he’s not yet 6! #thatfridaylinky

  8. As a child, I never had a games console. As an adult, I bought a Wii. That Wii probably gets used about twice a year now but in the height of it’s popularity in my house, it was probably used once every few weeks. I just don’t “get” the whole gaming concept as to me it’s a distraction from doing something more useful or more sociable. So for this reason, my kids don’t have a games console either and I’ve no intention of buying them one. And when I log into social media, I see parents complaining nearly every day about the effect of gaming on their children and it just reaffirms that it’s not something I need in my home.

    #ThatFridayLinky

  9. Its a tricky one because at that age there is a lot of peer pressure at school, so taking it away altogether could make your girls feel hard done by or single them out. I think the way you are already handling it, under supervision in small doses is the way to go. Follow your intuition =)

    Take care,
    Hayley #ThatFridayLinky

  10. It’s such a hard one, because you know that technology is going to be firmly a part of their lives. Yet it is such an addiction. If they can cope with just going on once in a while then that is surely the time to let them get into gaming. But if they show signs of frustration or aggression or reluctance to stop, then they aren’t quite ready to be on there in the first place! #ThatFridayLinky

  11. Great post! Great to see what others are thinking. This is a big question for the parent of today!

    I started playing computer games on the Atari in 1985, and then a desktop PC in 1987. I didn’t own a console till 2000 or thereabouts. I was however playing games on the PC and also at the Arcades (think OutRun, Daytonna, even Double Dragon..!).

    I think it’s important for kids to play games, but there must be some control. My oldest is almost 7. He currently only plays games on his granny’s iPhone. However, I’m thinking I’m going to install a game or two on the tablet for him to play. I think games, especially strategy, role playing games are good for kids. Action games I think do something for hand to eye coordination, but I’m not convinced they’re that special.

    However, it’s absolutely critical that there’s a limit. I used to play a game called Civilisation. I could play for 12 hours straight, only stopping so I don’t wet myself…! No food or drink necessary. I could 70 hours in a week easy (think summer months as a teenager). That stuff’s ok once in a while (e.g. one week in August), but there must be a balance.

    I would suggest a limit, at around 2 hours a day, which are controlled (e.g. not allowed at 7am). Maybe special allowances now and then (e.g. if some mates come over). Must be kept in check though!

  12. I didn’t play video games as a kid bc it just wasn’t my thing. My sons are 12 and 13- they love them. We let them play but balance it out with other activities. They were at least 10 before those games showed up. Before that, it was sports games on the Wii.

  13. My concern about gaming is that the kids are glued to a screen (instead of running and playing) and their heads are being completely filled with sounds and images (instead of leaving their brains available for pretend and the fertile ground of boredom). With my kids, I’ve put them off and limited them for as long as I was able — without resorting to draconian measures. Even so, I”m finding that #4 is getting waaaaay more screen time than #1 ever got. Sigh.

  14. My sons have been playing video games since the ages of five and three respectively when LEGO Dimensions came out and I was lucky enough to be given the chance to review it.

    The now own quite a few titles but we only allow age-appropriate ones – there’s no way they’re ever playing Fortnite or any of my games – other than maybe FIFA.

    We only allow them to play at weekends and they’re generally well behaved. We did have a few tantrums to deal with when it was time to stop playing at first, but they accept it now.

  15. My main worry is just my memory of being a child/teen and how much of my time gaming took up, I would get so addicted and spend hours and hours gaming, I suspect it might be why I need glasses now!

  16. Now this is a very good question. My eldest got his first console PS2 when he was 4. Hes now nearly 16 and is still gaming mad. But I think as long as you put boundaries in place and include other interests it’s fine. Technology is advancing and is in the EYFS. They need to have skills in place. #ThatFridayLinky

  17. In the media age we are in kids need to learn how to use devices. Our little one has apps on an ipad that she uses. Some educational some not. She is 7 now and has a bit more time but we are not a big gammer as in the full one systems. Tablet is fine for us for now! #thatfridaylinky

  18. Hmmm. That’s a tricky one to be honest! I agree that they should be allowed to use technology, because, as you say, it’s going to be a big part of their lives. I’m not exactly the best person to ask about this, as I’m not a parent (yet!), but I think I would tend to agree with one of the other comments, insomuch as it’s all about moderation. Personally, I’m not that much of a gamer. I did have a Mega Drive and a PS1 and PS2 as a kid, and when GTA Vice City was released myself and my brother spent countless hours working towards 100% completion. However, we were aware enough to know when to take a break. However, when it came to playing The Simpsons Road Rage against my brother, I lost count as to the amount of controllers I broke in frustration at losing yet again! Like I said though, I think it’s just a case of moderation. So, when you say enough is enough, that’s it. No ifs, ands or buts. It may lead to a tantrum or two, but I feel that’s better than sitting in front of a screen for countless hours instead of getting out there and playing outdoors like I used to do a lot as a kid. However, that’s just my opinion.

  19. I don’t have the time for it that I would like, guess I watch too much TV on my downtime, but some of my biggest tantrums have come while stuck on a particular boss or gaming level. I started playing some games with my daughter when she was almost five, Scooby Doo on the Wii and stuff like that. I think that finding age appropriate games matters more than the actual age of the child. #thatfridaylinky

  20. My dad had an Amstrad in the 80s so I grew up with games. My children have been on the Wii since they were 2 and now are more than capable on the PS4 and their Kindles. It’s all about balance and making sure it doesn’t get in the way of their social or acadmic development

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