Kinect for young kids

Its been a little over a month since we set up the xBox 360 Kinect.  Overall, it was a successful Christmas gift, but my kids seem to be at the cusp of enjoying the games in full.  My 5 year old boy is naturally energetic and athletic.  He, of course, loves it.  Especially now, in the winter when he can't burn off energy running around outside.  In one month, he completed the Kinectimals quests, has kicked my butt in boxing and done respectably well in other Kinect Sports.  He races as well as me in Kinect Joy Ride and enjoys the challenges in Kinect Adventures.  He's as good as a 5 year could be with these games.

My 4 year old girl has had some troubles with the game and hence probably does not enjoy it nearly as much.  It may be in part her personality and in part her lack of athletic ability, but she has only been moderately interested in playing.  She has troubles at times controlling her arm movement enough to select options on screen.  She also prefers to flail her arms about randomly rather than try to control her movements to score points.  I was kind of hoping that the games might motivate her to try to control her body movements better, but no such luck yet.  She has tried most of the games and liked Kinectimals the most.  Kinect Sports is a bit too hard for her still.  Kinect Joy Ride requires her to stand in one place too long.  Kinect Adventures is a bit too difficult for her to play, although she enjoys jumping.  Maybe next year, as she gains those fine muscle control and coordination, she'll enjoy it more.

Occasional, Kinect has troubles when I play with my kids.  For those of you who don't know me, I'm tall (6'6").  It doesn't happen often, but occasionally, the game displays my or my kids avatar on its knees when I join the game.  I once had to box my son while he was on his knees.  It didn't seem to stop his ability to knock me out :(.  Another time, I ran an entire race on my knees and WON!  It could just be a calibration problem with Kinect when we quickly switched players in the middle of the game.  Since its rare, I don't consider it a major annoyance.

Kinect also has problems with full sun light.  Our game console is on the south side of the house, and at least in winter, the sun beams into that room in the middle of the afternoon.  When it does, the Kinect cannot detect our arms effectively and goes all crazy if we try to play.  We've tried closing the blinds with only modest success. Not such much a kids issue, but good to know none-the-less.

So that's my Kinect review for young kids.  I would recommend it for kids 5+.  For that age, Kinectimals is perfect; Kinect Joy Ride pretty easy; Kinect Sports, some sports are easy; Kinect Adventures, pretty easy.  There may be some 4 year olds with good coordination and lots of patience who could play it effectively, but would be an expensive paper weight if they don't.  Of course you could be like me and want to play games yourself.  Speaking of which, I think I'll sign off here and go play a game.


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  2. How long do you think is too long for a kid to play? My 4 year old son plays kinect 8 hours a day if I let him! He is really really good ....and I think "well, he is active" but still I wonder if it's good to play that much......