A question a lot of parents ask themselves when they’re raising children is when it is okay to get their children certain devices. From tablets to their own phones, you often see children begin playing with these devices as early as they can grip them.
There are many who believe that these screens are beneficial to a child because they have better cognitive stimulation, gives them a higher number recognition, and helps them learn how to read. It also helps to give them something to do during mundane activities such as sitting in the backseat during road trips or waiting in the dentist’s office. It’s the same concept parents used back in the day with older Game Boys and toys.
It’s just something for them to do when there is no other option for stimulation. Can you imagine how boring it would be on a road trip with just a doll? It was probably fun for kids who had no other options, but they’re not really learning anything along the way. You could teach them about the mountains you’re passing, but there’s only so much you can say.
However, while there is an argument to be had over whether or not you should give a tablet or smartphone to a child that young, what about the Nintendo Switch?
Is the Nintendo Switch good for, say, a 5-year-old? It depends on each child, and your own personal parenting, but some five year olds could benefit and enjoy playing a Nintendo Switch.
Keep reading to understand what a Nintendo Switch is, and the benefits and potential negatives of giving a 5 year old a Nintendo Switch.
What Is A Nintendo Switch?
Chances are, if you’re looking up whether or not a Nintendo Switch (view on Amazon) is good for a 5-year-old then you’re probably in your late twenties, thirties, or early forties. This is the generation known as millennials, and unless we’ve been living under rocks our entire lives, we have a basic understanding of what video games are. However, we’re a little more understanding of those who may not be well-versed in the newest video game systems.
Think of the Nintendo Switch like a mixture of an old-school Nintendo you used to plug into your television and a handheld Game Boy. It’s a hybrid of the two ideas except with a little more features sprinkled in. Imagine a tablet with two controllers, known as Joy-Con controllers, that can attach to each side making it a handheld device. You can take the Joy-Con controllers off the Nintendo Switch and use it as its own separate controller for you or a family member or friend. The motion-sensing ability of the Joy-Con controllers allows you to swing it around during certain games if they involve action gameplay like the Legend of Zelda.
This allows the player to play however they want. If they want to play on a television by themselves or with a friend, then that’s fine. If they want to take it on the road with them during road trips, then that’s okay. They can even take it with them on an airplane or other means of travel to pass the time. While that’s all well and good, is the Nintendo Switch beneficial or detrimental to a 5-year-old? With everything in life, there are pros and there are cons, let’s take a look at both so you can make an informed decision on whether or not this would be a smart purchase.
Would A Nintendo Switch Be Detrimental To A 5-Year-Old?
When someone comes up to you and tells you they have both good and bad news, chances are, you’re going to want to hear the bad news first. If you’re reading this article as someone who was raised during an age when video games were already available, then you might have had one growing up. Do you remember the first time you held a video game in your hand? How did that turn out for you in the long run?
The major concern coming out of introducing video games at any impressionable age is one word and one word alone: addiction. In fact, just recently in 2018, the World Health Organization recognized video game addiction as an actual disorder. However, the symptoms of video game disorder sound like any other form of addiction and can easily be quelled at a young age with the right regulation. If you give anything rewarding to a 5-year-old such as video games, and it’s the only place they are rewarded in life, then chances are, they’re going to develop an addiction.
Video game developers have figured out a way to keep us playing and engaged by giving us a rush of happiness when we win. This “rush of happiness” is also known as dopamine. This dopamine is a neurotransmitter that makes your brain seek out more rewards to make you happy. It’s basically your brain’s pleasure pathway, and if video games are the only pleasure pathway your 5-year-old has, then they’re most likely going to develop an addiction.
This is especially true at such an impressionable age. However, the same can be said about almost anything you do to reward your child. Do you rewards your 5-year-old with ice cream if they finish their vegetables? Do you reward your child with pizza every time they do good in school? It’s basically the same concept as ice cream, pizza, and other goodies that will trigger your 5-year-old’s reward-seeking behavior.
However, is video game addiction as prevalent as some parents want you to believe? Other parents have done such a good job of taking a small sample of anything and blowing it up to epic proportions that will have you believe it’s a bigger problem than it is. It’s good to take precautions for everything, but some parents believe that just because one kid contracted a deadly brain-eating virus from some obscure lake in Idaho that every parent should never let their child swim in any lake ever.
The same can be said for video game addiction at a young age, research has shown only a small number of young gamers have developed an addiction, and that’s all alarmist parents needed to act like it’s a problem everywhere. However, as stated before, as long as they have other avenues of positivity in their lives, then it shouldn’t be a problem. If the child feels the need to dive into their video game system when their parents fight or because they feel neglected, then chances are, they’re going to develop an unhealthy psychological addiction at a young age, especially 5-years-old.
Would A Nintendo Switch Be Beneficial To A 5-Year-Old?
At a young age (if you choose to purchase a Nintendo Switch for a 5-year-old), there’s clearly going to be a limit as to what type of video game they should be playing. Obviously, you don’t want to purchase any teen or mature-rated video game that may depict drugs, sex, or real violence (that isn’t two cute cartoon characters bopping each other upside the head). You want to look for video games that not only promote your child’s cognitive, social, and creative development but one that is educational as well. Let’s take a look at some of the video game titles that would be beneficial to a 5-year old.
If you remember playing with Legos as a kid and being able to create whatever you wanted, then you had a good childhood. Nowadays, there aren’t a lot of options when it comes to buckets of Legos since most Legos just come in pre-made boxes with the pieces to build one specific thing. However, imagine the creativity and happiness you felt playing with Legos as a parent, except in a form you didn’t have to clean or risk stepping on. Minecraft allows your child with endless opportunities for creativity. Minecraft also has other benefits on top of creative development from problem-solving to resource management to simply increasing their spatial awareness. As long as you regulate how long your child can play, you can watch them build everything from houses to space ships and reap the benefits of the cognitive benefits of playing Minecraft. You can purchase Minecraft at Amazon here.
Overcooked is a cute little game that allows your 5-year-old child to learn how to work as a team to accomplish unusual kitchen tasks. The best part about the game is the ability to play with your 5-year-old cooperatively to accomplish tasks in the kitchen as you work through different challenges with your child. There’s no denying the bonding aspect this brings to the table with your kid. If you’re busy working all the time or haven’t found a lot of bonding opportunities with your child, then Overcooked may be the game for you and your kid. You can get Overcooked at Amazon here.
As with anything in life, it all boils down to moderation. Every child is different as far as their emotional and mental stage of development is concerned. At the end of the day, you know your child and home situation better than anyone else. Just because it might be the right time for one 5-year-old to have a Nintendo Switch, doesn’t mean it’s the right time for another. Make sure you’re offering them other healthier avenues for reward-seeking behavior so they don’t need to feel to “escape” into video games, as that could lead to poor psychological development in the future. Video games can be fun and engaging for both you and your child, so make sure when making the final decision to purchase a Nintendo Switch, that it’s a smart one.