If your kids are like mine, they love to play video games. However, they often lose interest in the individual games fairly quickly. Even the good ones only hold my children’s attention for so long.
This is a problem because I’m a dad that likes to be money-wise, but I also like to give my kids good entertainment.
The most popular video game systems like the Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation all offer a wide variety of games for kids and families, but they can also cost you a fortune. The games typically sell for $30 to $50 each. The total cost can really add up quickly given how fast kids want more.
I’ve stumbled onto a solution to this problem. By accident really, I’ve found a game system that my daughters really enjoy and that doesn’t break the bank. I thought I’d share it here today just in case you were also interested in a cheap alternative.
I want to tell you right up front that no one paid me or even encouraged me in any way to write this article. I’m doing it completely on my own. There are a lot of sponsored articles out there these days, but this is not one of them. I just wanted to pass along something that has worked for my family and might also work for yours. My hope is that you will find it helpful.
The Video Games My Family Tried First
Before I spill the beans on this, I’d like to offer up what we tried first that didn’t really work out so well. First, we bought a Nintendo Wii. Of all the home game consoles, the Wii is the most family friendly. We’ve had ours for several years now and we’ve really enjoyed it, but I have struggled with the cost of the games. As I said, they generally cost around $30 to $40 each. This has certainly limited how many I’ve been willing to buy.
We’ve had some success buying used games at some local retail stores that specialize in pre-owned merchandise, but we still only typically save 10% to 15% off the original price. This just isn’t enough of a difference to really matter to my budget.
Then after we had the Wii for awhile, my oldest daughter decided she wanted a Nintendo DS Lite which is a handheld game system that she could take with her in the car, to friends’ houses and to grandma’s. She saved her own money and bought one used at a local GameStop.
The DS is a fine little portable system again with a wide variety of suitable games for young girls and boys. Heck, even my five-year old loves to play the DS. The only problem is that the average cost of the games is still up there in the $20 to $30 range and they only entertain the kids for awhile before they want a new one.
Sony also offers a handheld game system called the PSP, but the games for it are generally even a little higher than those offered for the DS.
None of these popular systems really worked out all that well for us, but we did find something that is making us all happy.
The Cheap Video Game Alternative for Kids
Here’s what we’ve found that satisfies our children and my wallet. It offers the best of everything including:
- It is portable so the kids can take it anywhere.
- There are an enormous number of games available for all ages.
- The games typically range in cost from $0 to at most a $1.99.
- It is widely available to everyone.
Okay, so what is this great solution? I’ve held you in suspense long enough.
It is the Apple iPod Touch.
Previously, I had thought the iPod Touch was mainly a portable music player and it is awesome for this purpose, but it is also a fantastic little video game system too.
You can pick up a refurbished iPod Touch directly from Apple with a one-year warranty for only $149. This initial cost is very competitive with the cost of a Nintendo DS or Sony PSP. You might even be able to find a good used one cheaper than this on eBay or elsewhere. I just liked the idea of getting a warranty with the ones I purchased.
Obviously, the cost of the system itself isn’t that much better than the standard alternatives. The real savings start stacking up when you start buying games.
You can check out this list of the best game apps for kids to see that there are literally tons of great games, many with an educational slant, that sell for less than $1.99. Also, what I really love is that you can download a number of awesome little games for the iPod that are absolutely free. These will get you started and you can find hundreds more to install in minutes right in the Apple App Store.
If you go this route, then I’d highly encourage you to check out and adjust the built-in parental controls on your iPod to protect your kids. Remember, the iPod Touch does a whole lot more than just play games. It also has a fully-functional web browser built right in. I’m a pretty cautious parent when it comes to the online world and I’ve found the controls available on the iPod are very adequate.
This Cheap Alternative Has Saved Me a Bundle
I can buy my kids 15, 20 or 30 games on the iPod for what it would cost me to buy just one for their standard game systems. This makes us all happy. I’m not as reluctant to buy new games and my kids get something different to stimulate their little minds regularly. Plus, you can download and install a new game in a matter of a couple of minutes from anywhere there is Wi-Fi access. It is truly a win-win all the way around for us. I hope it works as well for you.
Have you found other ways to solve this problem? If so, please leave a comment and let me know. I’d love to have more ideas on how to deal with this. Thanks!
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