Impress your teens and tweens with these engaging and entertaining toys.
While it may seem like your tween or teen is long past the age of playing, there are many benefits of play for children of this age. When engaged in play, tweens and teens typically feel happy and joyful. Research has found that play can have a positive impact on kids' mental health. And when play is active, they'll also gain physical benefits. And there are social benefits too. The list of positives really goes on. But are there toys for teens and tweens? We expanded that definition a little bit (and even made an exception for a little screen) to spark that playfulness and encourage our forever babies to play a little longer. Here are our 2023 Best Toy Award winners for teens and tweens.
Parents' 2023 Best Toy Awards features 47 toys for children of all ages, from babies and toddlers to big kids, tweens, and teens. The products selected were vetted and tested by Parents Editor's and real life testers. This year's winners highlight some of the latest and greatest toys on the market and you'll find toys for every budget. Learn more about how we chose this year's winners and explore our top picks in each category:
Best Creative Toy for Teens and Tweens
LEGO DREAMZzz Fantastical Tree House
One of the greatest toys ever invented, LEGOs rarely disappoint—and this set is no exception. Designed for builders nine and up and based on the LEGO DREAMZzz TV show, this set features 1,257 pieces and gives tweens and teens the choice to build in two modes: party or defense, doubling the playtime and the fun. Builders will love the lookout tower and epic swing, and accessories include a bagel-blasting toaster. It comes with four minifigures and makes the perfect set for stop animation. “We are big LEGO people who love free-building and making various sets,” one mother of two told Parents. “This latest piece is a great addition to my oldest’s collection. It was challenging to build but not too hard. It is also visually stunning.”
Best Fidget Toy for Teens and Tweens
NeeDoh Nice Cube
Looking for the perfect present, particularly for the teen or tween who has everything? Well, why not give them the gift of chilling out? NeeDoh Nice Cubes are fidget toys that come in a fun range of translucent colors. They are made from a non-toxic, dough-like material that always bounces back to its original shape, and it’s a simple, captivating toy that’s great to have around the house for instant stress relief. No one—from kids to grandparents—will be able to resist giving one a squish and smush. One 12-year-old tester raved "This is so satisfying!"
Best Puzzle for Teens and Tweens
While not brand new for 2023, this game has certainly made resurgence. Kanoodle Extreme is a puzzle game that involves strategy and critical thinking skills; it’s also highly addictive and fun. Kanoodlers can test their skills with tons of mind-bending challenges. Levels become increasingly difficult as you play, and it’s compact enough to be taken on road trips. Plus, it’s a one-player game, which means no fighting. Talk about finding inner piece. "It's pretty rare for a non-screen game to keep my kiddos attention but this mind-bender had my 12-year-old returning night after night," one parent said. A win-win.
Best for Bonding with Teens and Tweens
Who Knows You Best
How well do you really know your family and friends? Time to put your knowledge to the (very fun) test. Who Knows You Best is sure to be a hit at your next family game night. It’s easy to play: simply earn points by answering one of hundreds of questions, like what is your loved one’s favorite dessert. The game includes 200 cards, dry erase boards, and markers. It’s a great activity for grandparents and family friends, and you’ll learn more about each other without even realizing it. “We liked the game a lot and laughed a lot playing it,” a pair of sisters told Parents. “We even argued a bit about things we thought we knew about each other.”
Best Trivia Game for Teens and Tweens
Finally, a game where everyone gets a chance to be a genius! Players take turns showing off their opinions when faced with ridiculous questions, like “How many spoons make a respectable spoon collection?” The only answer that matters is the Genius’. All the other players guess what the current Genius would answer. With rules that are super easy to follow, everyone will be playing two minutes after you open the box, and with clever, funny questions, the laughs are soon to follow. “This is an easy, quick game that led to a lot of laughs while we played,” a parent tester explained. “It's hilarious how wrong we were about each other's guesses. We even packed up part of it to take with us on vacation!”
Best Collectors Toy for Teens and Tweens
Funko Bitty Pop! Five Nights at Freddy's 4-Pack Series 3
Sure, you’ve probably never heard of Five Nights at Freddy’s, but your tweens and teens have—and they’re obsessed. The wildly popular video game (and film franchise) about Freddy Fazbear and his friends, a group of animatronic robots, can now fit into the palm of your kid’s hand. Each Bitty Pop set comes with four mini collectibles and includes one mystery option. "These tiny Bitty Pops are the perfect gift or stocking stuffer for tweens," one Parents' editor said. Go ahead and add to your cart now. You’ll thank us later.
Best Video Game for Teens and Tweens
WarioWare: Move It!
It’s not considered screen time if your kids are doing it together, right? The brand new WarioWare party video game is sure to be a crowd pleaser. With creative multiplayer modes, Wario goes tropical in this series of minigames where players compete in over-the-top silliness. Players will love acting as a mechanical frog or pumping their fists wildly to force an egg out of their chicken hole. Parents might not be the target audience here, but they’ll get plenty of points for coolness. “I love that this game gets my kids up and moving,” one parent tester told us. “I also love that it gets my tween asking to play with mom and dad, something that happens less and less these days.”
Best New Entertainment System for Teens and Tweens
We all worry that video games will turn our kids into sedentary zombies, but thankfully, Nex Playground is designed to get gamers of all ages up and moving. Heralded as one of the best inventions of 2023, Nex Playground is the first device of its kind that transforms your living room into an active play space. The console comes with a wide selection of games that are manipulated with the motion of a player’s whole body—no controllers needed. One parent tester told Parents "Nex Playground had my kids sweating." So cast your worries aside and join in the fun.
Best Plush for Teens and Tweens
No matter how old your kids are, they can’t resist a perfectly snuggly Squishmallow. Hugo the Planet is the latest character to join the squad. He loves adventure and is always on an imaginary quest to save the day. A shimmery ring sparkles around Hugo’s body, and his face features long eyelashes and a friendly smile. He’ll be an ultrasoft companion for movie night, bedtime, and just anytime cuddles. One tester exclaimed "It's so cute and squishy!"
Price: pricing varies
Best Surprise Toy for Teens and Tweens
Mini Verse Make It Mini Lifestyle
Collectable crafting? Yes, please. The Make It Mini Lifestyle Series has over 60 unique keepsakes, from terrariums, candles, fish bowls, and more. Each package is a surprise, making unboxing part of the fun. Then crafters get to work setting up their mini figure before using the pod as a cute shelf to display their creations. "This tiny craft was super cute," one parent explained. "My 9-year-old had fun putting it together and playing with it afterwards," proving good things really do come in small packages.
Best Trading Card Game for Teens and Tweens
Part collectible, all fun, Lorcana is a Disney-inspired trading card game. Think Pokemon or Magic the Gathering for Mickey Mouse fans. Players collect cards and create decks designed to help them quest for Lore. (You win the game when you have 20 Lore.) And while the gameplay may sound complex—due, in part, to unique in-game terminology—it is actually rather easy to understand. One 10-year-old player was a mini-Lorcana pro after a few rounds, even winning her first game. “This is so much fun!” she proclaimed. The artwork on each card is also stunning, and the immersive gameplay will provide hours of fun.
Price: starter decks are $16.99 each; booster packs are $5.99 each
Best Arts and Crafts for Teens and Tweens
Crayola HD Coloring Kit
Not all coloring sets are created equal, and leave it to Crayola to blow the rest out of the water. The new HD Coloring Kit comes with 20 premium pages of pre-shaded, black-and-white photos that kids can color with 30 beautiful colored pencils. With loose pages, as opposed to the book-bound norm, this set makes for easy sharing among siblings. All of the materials are contained within a cool carrying case, and the end result is a professional-looking masterpiece. "I really like how all the colors pop and the pictures seem to come alive,” a young, budding artist explained. And it’s parent-approved too. “I loved casually leaving this set out on the kitchen counter and watching all three of my kids drop in to do some coloring while chatting with me. It held their interest for a long time.”
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