Christmas is fast approaching and the good news is that you’ll have the kids at home all throughout the festive period. Oh yes you will!
However, the bad news is also that you’ll have the kids at home all throughout the festive period. Oh No… no seriously, just Oh No!
But it can be tough keeping them entertained 24/7 normally, so I thought I’d lend a helping hand. I’ve scoured the shops, the internet and the smartphones to produce this Top 10 to keep them busy while you spend time yourself… tidying up after them.
A cast iron guarantee of peace and quiet over the festive period, which console you go for will depend on the age of your offspring and what type of experience you’re after. The Nintendo Wii has a well won reputation as the top machine for families, especially those with younger children; Xbox 360 is generally rated best for online gaming; PlayStation 3 is a good all-rounder and has the bonus of an in-built Blu-ray player.
Find out more about the choices available in our Gaming Buying Guide.
The old stereotype of square-eyed teens getting fat sitting in front of their consoles is now a thing of the past. Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3 all have add-ons and games to keep the body trim and the brain active. The pick of the bunch is the Wii Fit, which contains so many fun mini-games that they’ll forget they’re actually exercising while playing it.
Not only does this website win the ‘does what it says’ award for the title, it’s also a great resource if you’re wondering what the hell to do in the school holidays. Choose your region, child age and whether you want an indoor or outdoor activity and it will give you colour coded results covering everything from zoos and museums to bowling lanes and theme parks.
Once you know where you’re going there’s one golden rule you should follow – never pay full price. Most attractions offer online discounts for the canny – often via buying a certain product or collecting supermarket loyalty points – while charging a hefty fee for those who just turn up on the day. This site gives tips on how to get up to 75% off the price of admission of some of the UK’s biggest theme parks. Don’t leave home before reading it…
Everyone knows that kids love comics – and this app lets you download hundreds of them onto an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Spider-Man, Wolverine, Iron Man, Thor and Captain America all feature and this latest version of the app is faster and easier to read than ever before. It will keep them in comic books until Christmas 2020.
If you’ve a teenager looking for something a bit more grown-up than a comic, then an E-Reader may do the trick. Like with games consoles, there are three main players – the market leading Amazon Kindle, the expensive but multi-functioning Apple iPad or this sleek competitor from Sony. Available in a range of colours, it is touchscreen and can store up to 1,200 books. That’s an awful lot of reading material but at least it’s a classic traditional activity albeit with a modern twist!
Take three things youngsters really enjoy in Facebook, social gaming and building things, put them all together and you’ll get CityVille. This free Facebook app has a whopping 50 million active monthly users, as people all around the world compete to build the city of their dreams. And if they do one day get bored then there’s farmyard, café, Wild West and, for older children, Mafia versions too.
Sometimes the simplest and cheapest ideas are the best, and Toca Robot Lab proves that rule once again. Costing just 69p, the premise is very basic – you create a robot then watch it fly. Yet the delivery is so beautiful you’ll be begging for a go yourself.
Rather than have the children hanging around bored over Christmas and New Year, why not give them one of these Full HD, waterproof, shockproof, shoot-anywhere £100 movie cameras and have them record what’s going on instead. With easy-to-use editing software and one-touch upload to YouTube there’s also plenty to keep them busy even after the filming has stopped.
In 2011, no one is safe from advancing technology – not even Santa Claus himself. Father Christmas now has a Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Apple and Android apps and a website where children can track his progress around the globe on an interactive 3D map. Wow, a very modern man indeed.