The 8 Best Video Games for Kids of 2021

Digital fun the whole family can enjoy

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Best Video Games for Kids

Verywell / Chloe Jeong

Today’s video games are impressive by any standards. While they are another source of screentime, video games can also provide a fun activity for friends and family to play together, whether physically or virtually.

Some games require cartridges while others can simply be downloaded. Check reviews and the required ESRB (Entertainment Software Ratings Board) ratings to make informed choices about what games are right for your family. Use this guide to find the best game for your families demographics and desires.

Good to Know

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s important to achieve a “balance between digital consumption and healthier activities” and there are some key factors to look out for which may indicate problems with video gaming, including:

Each video game includes a rating system that ranges from EC (Early Childhood) which means it’s suitable for ages 3 and up all the way up to Adults Only. Check the ratings prior to purchasing any games. Some video games are compatible with a wide variety of video game systems while others will only work with one specific system. 

Our Top Picks
Fans of the Switch will love this game, the only drawback is it can’t be played on other systems.
A game of deduction, teamwork, and betrayal, it’s easy to play with a group of grownups and kids
Amazing visuals make the games look like a real soccer match and lots of playing options make it easy to play alone or with others
Best for Multiplayer:
Epic Games Fortnite at Amazon
Pits up to 100 players against each other as players team up in single, pairs, or four-person squads to battle it out.
More appropriate for teens, this is a shooting game and does have some more mature story lines.
Best for Elementary Aged:
Nintendo Switch Pokémon Snap at Amazon
As you journey through new locales like jungles and beaches, players search for Pokemon and are challenged to snap photos.
Best Interactive:
Just Dance 2021 at Amazon
Perfect for a crowd, up to six players will be challenged to keep the beat and move to the music with this fun, interactive game.
A versatile game, it can be played alone, with friends, or online with players (or friends and family) around the world.

Best Overall: Nintendo Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Pros
  • Fun for a group

  • Beginner mode makes it easier for kids

  • Four players can play with one Switch

Cons
  • Limited system compatibility

  • Expensive

Parents will appreciate the joy of playing with all their Mario Kart fan-favorite characters while kids will love the excitement of the game. With the ability to support up to four players split-screen on the TV or Switch, it’s a fun option for a group.

The “E” rating ensures there’s nothing violent or inappropriate for younger players. Fans of the Switch will love this game, the only drawback is it can’t be played on other systems.

Game System Compatibility: Nintendo Switch | ESRB Rating: E | Multiplayer vs. Single Player: Multiplayer up to 4 players

Best for Online Play: Innersloth Among Us

Among Us
Pros
  • Can play on wifi on nearly any device

  • Up to 15 players

  • Quick game play

Cons
  • Ability to interact with players

Among Us is a popular online game, meaning it can be played from nearly any device with wifi, including a phone or tablet. Taking place on a space station, in order to win the round, each player must complete tasks, with the twist that there’s an imposter on the ship that can sabotage or kill players.

A game of deduction, teamwork, and betrayal, it’s easy to play with a group and simple to generate a private code so you only play with those you know. Each round is pretty quick and while there is the opportunity to play with strangers, there is very limited play to player interaction.

Game System Compatibility: Google Play, Apple App Store, Nintendo, PS 4, PS 5, XBox, Online | ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ | Multiplayer vs. Single Player: Multiplayer up to 15 players online

Best Sports: EA Sports FIFA 21

EA Sports FIFA 21
Pros
  • Amazing visuals

  • Single or multiplayer modes

Cons
  • Limited differences from previous versions

  • Soccer only game

Soccer fans will love this year’s iteration of the popular sports game that gets better and better each year. Amazing visuals make the games look like a real soccer match and lots of playing options make it easy to play alone or with others.

The game is available on almost all systems, so all soccer fans can get in on the action. This year’s version features a new Career Mode simulation which allows you to skip a whole match and have more control over the players on your team.

Game System Compatibility: Nintendo Switch, XBox, Playstation | ESRB Rating: Everyone | Multiplayer vs. Single Player: Both single or multiplayer

Best for Multiplayer: Epic Games Fortnite

Fortnite
Pros
  • Compatible with multiple devices

  • Single or multiplayer

  • Popular merch ties ins

Cons
  • Cartoonish violence

  • Game play can take a long time

Super popular, Fortnite can be played online or on all common game systems. The game pits up to 100 players against each other as they team up in single, pairs, or four-person squads to battle it out to see who can survive the longest.

While there is some violence, it’s very cartoonish and not gory. There are in-game purchases available to celebrate or enhance your gameplay. The duration of each battle does take a while, so parents may find it’s hard to pull their kids away from a game while they’re “in the middle of a round.”

Game System Compatibility: Online, XBox, Nintendo Switch, Playstation, iOS, Android | ESRB Rating: T for Teen | Multiplayer vs. Single Player: Both single or multiplayer

Best for Teens: Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart Launch Edition

Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart Launch Edition
Pros
  • Amazing graphics

  • Mature storyline

Cons
  • Only available for Playstation 5

  • Single player

  • Shooting game

A game based in exploration and combat, older players will be impressed with the Pixar-level graphics, speedy loading time, and engaging gameplay. While there are previous versions of this game, it’s not necessary to have played before to enjoy this version.

More appropriate for teens, this is a shooting game and does have some more mature storylines. A single-player game, Ratchet & Clank is best for a tween or teen who will enjoy playing alone and is mature enough to handle the story and game requirements.

Game System Compatibility: Playstation 5 | ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ | Multiplayer vs. Single Player: Single player

Best for Elementary Aged: Nintendo Switch Pokémon Snap

Nintendo Switch Pokémon Snap
Pros
  • Easy to play

  • Laid back game play

Cons
  • Single player

  • Only available on Nintendo Switch

Younger fans will enjoy this addition to the Pokemon gaming family. A single-player game, players will meet a new teacher, Professor Mirror, to help lead the way. As you journey through new locales like jungles and beaches, players search for Pokemon and are challenged to snap photos of what they find.

The unique game can only be played on the Nintendo Switch. Fun and laid back, it’s especially good for those already familiar with Pokemon. 

Game System Compatibility: Nintendo Switch | ESRB Rating: E | Multiplayer vs. Single Player: Single player

Best Interactive: Just Dance 2021

Just Dance 2021
Pros
  • Up to six players

  • Family friendly

  • Smartphone can double as controller

Cons
  • Yearly version isn’t much different

  • Subscription required for access to additional songs

Get ready to move and groove with the latest version of the popular Just Dance game. Perfect for a crowd, up to six players will be challenged to keep the beat and move to the music with this fun, interactive game. It’s easy to play with a large group, simply use your smartphone as the controller.

For families with younger kids, there are six family-friendly songs and choreographies that are perfect for the whole crew. Master the moves and you’ll look like TikTok stars!

Game System Compatibility: Playstation, XBox, Nintendo Switch | ESRB Rating: E for Everyone | Multiplayer vs. Single Player: Multiplayer

Best for the Family: SEGA Tokyo Olympic Games 2020

SEGA Tokyo Olympic Games 2020
Pros
  • Both single or multiplayer

  • 18 events

  • Customizable avatar

Cons
  • Everyone 10+ rating

  • Some games require taking turns instead of dual playing

Fun for the whole family, celebrate the spirit of the Olympics as players choose from 18 different competitive events. A versatile game, it can be played alone, with friends, or online with players (or friends and family) around the world.

While it is technically rated Everyone 10+, the game is not violent and not complicated for younger kids. Families will also enjoy dressing their Olympian avatar and can choose from over 50 costume options.

Game System Compatibility: Nintendo Switch, Playstation, XBox | ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ | Multiplayer vs. Single Player: Both single or multiplayer

Final Verdict

It’s hard to beat the appeal of Among Us. The online game is super easy to pick up, great alone or with a group, and the game play is quick. For active kids or families, Just Dance (view at Amazon) is a fun, interactive option while true gamers do love Fortnite.

What to Look for When Buying Video Games for Kids 

Age-Appropriate 

One of the most important factors to consider when buying video games for your child is the age-appropriateness of the game. Video games are rated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) which gives parents and caregivers an idea of a game’s appropriate age level usage. The ESRB has 6 main categories when it comes to ratings.

  • E: This level rating means “Everyone,” so the content is typically suitable for all ages. There may be mild language or mild violence depending on the game. 
  • E 10+: Meant for “Everyone 10+,” children from 10 years old and up can play the content in video games with this rating. It’s once again possible there will be fantasy, cartoon, mild language or violence, or suggestive themes. 
  • T: Standing for “Teen,” this content is usually OK for children ages 13 years old and up. However, language is typically stronger, and there may be more crude humor, gambling, or violence depending on the video game. 
  • M: “Mature 17+” is for those who are 17 years old and older due to content possibly containing blood/gore, sexual content, strong language, and intense violence. 
  • A: This rating is for “Adults 18+” because content is not suitable for children at all. Video games with this rating may contain gambling with real money, graphic sexual content, or long moments with intense violence. 
  • RP: RP stands for “Rating Pending,” meaning video games with this rating have not yet been assigned a final ESRB rating. 

Cost

Many parents and caregivers may be shocked to see some of the most popular video games will cost more than $50, but this will depend on what type of system your child has. Consider the cost of the video game your child has had their eye on or what you think they may like. 

Some games may be on the cheaper end, but require extra costs once playing for additional features. Do your research on a video game to see exactly where your money (or your child’s!) money is exactly going. 

System Type 

Believe it or not, there are dozens of different video gaming systems to choose from. Some of the more popular ones you’ve probably heard of include PlayStation, XBOX, PC games, or mobile games. Because video games aren’t a “one-game-fits-all” when it comes to systems, you want to ensure the video games you’re looking at are compatible with your child’s system. 

Typically, you will see a description of which system the video game is compatible with. For example, XBOX is known for their green cases while PlayStation will show a “PS4” with the number being the console it matches to. 

FAQs

What are some signs that my child is playing video games too often? 

When it comes to playing video games, the AAP recommends no more than two hours per day for older children. For some children, even this may be too much screen time, and there are warning signs to look out for if your child has been playing too often.

Sleep deprivation and attention problems after playing are signs your child may need to put the controller down for a much-needed break. Also be on the lookout for a lack of time management skills and what video game violence is conveying. Finding a balance with video games will ensure your child is staying healthy not only physically, but mentally, too. 

Can video games be beneficial for my child’s health? 

While video games have a bad reputation when it comes to children playing them, there are some benefits to the screen time. However, the benefits will depend on the type of video games your child is playing. 

Depending on the game, some will help your child enhance their problem-solving skills or hand-eye coordination. If your child likes Virtual Reality games, these help them with physical activity. But, it’s important to remember, video games should not replace playing outside or engaging in sports and moderation is key.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Maya Polton is a former marketing manager and current freelance writer who covers food, home, and parenting. She’s also the mom of a 10-year-old son, 7-year-old son, and 3-year-old daughter. While she does not consider herself a gamer (does Tetris count?), her two sons are big video game fans and sometimes consider the Nintendo Switch an appendage to their body. 

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3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. McGrath M. Parents’ duty to make call on video games for kids. AAP News. 2015;36(2):28-28.

  3. Can playing video games be good for kids? (For parents)- nemours kidshealth.