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I was skeptical about introducing video games to my 3 young kids. I found an option that keeps them moving while playing.

Conz Preti   

I was skeptical about introducing video games to my 3 young kids. I found an option that keeps them moving while playing.
  • I have three kids under the age of 7.
  • My oldest had been asking us if he could start playing video games.

I grew up in the late 80s and 90s and was an avid Nintendo player. I had the NES in my room and pretty much unlimited time with it.

When I became a parent, I realized that too much screen time was not good for my kids' developing brains. Also, I felt like they needed to move more after spending all day sitting in school, even though they were still on the younger side for organized sports.

But my oldest, aged 6, kept asking to play video games because all his friends were already doing it. Thankfully, I found a solution that scratches his itch for playing and doesn't make me feel guilty about screen time.

A video game system that gets kids moving

I felt a little hypocritical for not allowing my son to play video games after my husband and I spent so much time doing so growing up. But at the same time, I felt like adding more screen time was not really going to benefit him.

It's recommended that kids under 6 don't get more than an hour a day of screen time on weekdays. But, as most parents know, it's so hard to negotiate with kids when it's time to put an end to their favorite show.

When I heard about Nex Playground, I was intrigued. The concept is pretty simple and similar to the Xbox Kinect. The video game console has a camera that records your movement, and instead of using a remote to play games, you use your body.

It's recommended for kids 5 and up and costs $199.99. For an extra $89 a year, you can add a play pass, which gives you access to their entire catalog of games.

It took them a bit to get used to it

Maybe it's because this was their first video game experience, or maybe it's because my kids are not particularly coordinated (they get that from me), but it took them a little while to get used to staying in the right spot for the camera to detect them and to nail the movements they needed to do for each game.

That said, once they got it, they absolutely loved the experience.

My twins, who are 4, are obsessed with Peppa Pig, and the console comes with a Peppa game. The character games are pretty simple, like jumping in muddy puddles until the puddle is totally gone or seeing who can get more turns with their hoola hoop.

It keeps them entertained while moving

The console can take up to four players at a time, so I decided to try playing hungry hippos with them. Like the old-school game, the point is to collect as much food for your hippo by using your hands to chomp down things like watermelons and strawberries. After two rounds of playing with my very competitive kids, I was out of breath and sweating.

I took a break while they continued playing, and I noticed how they were helping each other out on the next round, yelling when there was an extra-big watermelon with more points waiting to be chomped.

Every time the round ended, they would celebrate who won — instead of fighting about it, which is honestly what I expected them to do — and then got ready to try again.

While I prefer that they get outside as much as possible, the Nex Playground is a great alternative for improving hand-eye coordination and easing the jitters.

We've reserved playing video games when it's raining or snowing outside, and they can't ride their scooters around our neighborhood.

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