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by Michele | May 7th, 2010 | Product reviews

I’ll start by admitting I am not a gamer. Sure, I used our Atari when I was a kid, but I really haven’t felt the need to play video games since then. However, both of my sons (ages 9 and 14) are very much into gaming, which means that video games are indirectly part of my life.

Last year, my then 13 year old very much wanted an Xbox Elite gaming system. Although we already had a Wii, the Xbox offered different types of games and different functionality (according to my son). My husband and I were fine with having a second gaming system in the house, but as it was a fairly pricey item, we weren’t going to give the Xbox as a single gift. So, my son saved birthday money, babysitting money, etc. to purchase this prized item.

While it isn’t an inexpensive item, it does seem like it might be worth its price. At 14, my son craves social interactions with his peers. However, being 14, he doesn’t have the ability to spend time with friends as much as he would like. He can hang out with them after school or at sporting practices, but these events usually end by dinnertime. However, with the Xbox he can play games online and talk or text with friends via the gaming system after dinner.

In addition to its social perks, the Xbox has solid parental controls. We can determine with whom our son can communicate online. We also can control who can see our son’s profile or friends list. So, while he is able to “hang out” with friends virtually, we don’t have to worry about him mingling with others that we don’t know.

Granted, having an Xbox means that there’s another option for a child to spend time in front of a screen. Therefore, we treat this gaming system just like the computer or television. There’s a certain amount of time allotted for using the Xbox on a daily basis, and once the time is used, the gaming is done. Our son has taken to these limitations quite nicely and even has begun to plan. Being a teen, he has a cell phone, so he will text friends to see if they’re online and then will plan his gaming time around his friends’ schedules. I guess it’s not that different then choosing a time to go to a friend’s house.

Although it is a more expensive item and may take a little saving to earn, I would recommend an Xbox as a good gadget for a teen. It offers entertainment and social interaction, both of which are good things for teens.

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