From its fun and colourful roster of games to its unique design, the Nintendo Switch is often seen as the family-friendly console.
Nintendo has a reputation for producing family-oriented games – and the Switch is no different, with an extensive selection for age groups ranging from three to 18.
Here's everything you need to know about the console.
What is the Nintendo Switch?
Released worldwide in 2017, the versatility of the Switch has helped it to remain incredibly popular. Consisting of a portable tablet and two detachable controllers (also known as Joy-Cons), the console can be connected to a TV but it doesn’t have to be – making it possible to play both at home and on the go.
Switch games come on cards rather than discs. You can also buy and download games through the Nintendo eShop.
Although the Switch connects to the internet, it does not support streaming apps – such as Netflix or Amazon Prime – like it’s main competitors, nor can it play Blu-Rays or DVDs.
In September 2019, Nintendo launched the Lite version of the Switch, which is an entirely handheld device but otherwise works just like the standard version.
Why is it so popular?
Although it’s not groundbreaking in terms of technical specs or graphics, the Switch is very easy to set up and the menus are clean and simple to navigate. It’s also considered the most age-inclusive console on the market, as the majority of games are suitable for younger players (PEGI 3-7). Many of Nintendo’s own titles for the Switch have extensive multiplayer options which can appeal to both children and adults.
Games such as Super Smash Bros or Animal Crossing are great ways to get involved in the games children are playing. It's also an opportunity for parents to explain to their children how to respond to any issues that concern or upset them in-game.
What do parents need to be aware of?
Parental controls can be a useful tool for families who are looking to prevent accidental spending or stop their child from being able to access inappropriate content.
For the Switch, all you have to do is to create a parent/guardian account on the console and download Nintendo’s parental controls app from the App Store or Google Play Store.
If you don’t want your child to be able to contact or be contacted by strangers, you can toggle the communication settings included in the app. For example, you can stop your child from sending or receiving messages and pictures outside of their ‘Friends’ list. Check out our parent guide to learn more about in-game chat.
The app gives you the option to select which PEGI ratings you’re comfortable with your child playing. The Switch then won't allow you to purchase any with an older rating.
Research from the Oxford Internet Institute suggests that what children do on screens is more important than the amount of time they spend doing it – but that doesn’t mean you can’t choose to set limits.
Through the app, you can set daily quotas for your child. When their time is almost up, they will receive a notification which encourages them to finish what they’re doing. You can also enable a feature called ‘Suspend software’ which will automatically quit the game and turn the console off when the time is up.
There are many online games available on the Switch. Some of them may give players the option to buy loot boxes – virtual ‘treasure chests’ containing mystery items that may or may not be of value for the player.
Because the player doesn’t usually know what they’re going to get, they might be tempted to keep buying loot boxes until they get what they want. As a result, there are concerns that loot boxes can introduce children to gambling-like behaviours.
Nintendo now demands that all games disclose ‘drop rates’ – the probability that a loot box will yield a specific reward. The Switch also gives parents control over their child’s spending. You can either set up limits or turn off spending completely in the Nintendo eShop.
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This article was last updated on 18/11/22.