Shopping for age-appropriate gifts can be a real challenge for teenage boys – they’re too old for toys and too young for wine. So what do you do when you want to give the teenage boy in your life a gift he’ll both enjoy and benefit from developmentally? The good news is, you can look no further than this list.
We’ve done the research and collected the 11 best gifts for teenage boys in 2018 that are both developmentally stimulating and fun. If you’re short on time, jump down to the best gifts list below. Otherwise, take a moment to learn about the developmental milestones typical teenagers are expected to achieve that factored into this list.
Unlike in earlier childhood, gifts for teenagers can become increasingly technologically advanced and unfortunately, expensive. We’ve tried to balance the list with a mix of high tech and low tech gifts that stimulate a range of developmental milestones. That being said, we do believe spending money of technology for your child is one of the best investments you can make.
Teenage Developmental Milestones
Ah, adolescence. The glorious time when a boy becomes a man. Patchy beards, cracking voices, fast (sometimes painful) physical growth, late nights with college prep, and the stresses of the dating game make it an especially interesting time.
Your teenage boy is becoming increasingly self-reliant and self-aware. He’s developing thoughts and opinions of his own because his abstract thinking skills have begun to solidify. He’s seeing you (an adult) for the first time as a person with faults, rather than having the answers to all of life’s problems. With these new, complicated thoughts and realizations, however, comes a storm of passion which might be hard for him to reign in at times.
What makes this even harder is the fact that he’s growing faster than he has since he was an infant, and often feeling the hurt of such fast growth. Many boys will add eight inches or more during adolescence, which may happen in less than a year. Couple this with the muscle he’s gaining, and he’ll likely put on more than forty pounds in the same time frame.
Something else you may expect is for these changes to not be in front of his family, but in front of his friends. At this point in development, a teenager’s sense of self is strongest, and he wants to experience certain things independently. The social skills he learns in adolescence become the foundation for how he socializes for the rest of his life, and they’re mostly something he learns on his own.
Academically, teenage boys have a lot to learn, and a lot on the line. Their focus on good grades, SAT prep, and extracurricular activities can reward them with entrance into a world class university. This means they’ll have to work harder than ever before in their lives to achieve their desires.
Giving your teenage boy gifts that support his development, introduce him to the latest technologies, and promote his social growth is a critical parenting responsibility. Browse the list below and pick a few of the top options to enrich your child’s life. What better way to invest in the future?
11 Best Gifts for Teenage Boys
1. HTC Vive
One of the most transformative technologies to hit society in recent years is Virtual Reality (VR). And the best room-scale VR headset is the HTC Vive. But don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of it or tried it yet. The technology is just becoming affordable enough for mainstream consumers. Now is the perfect time to make an investment that will give your teenager a glimpse into the future, and possible inspire a rich career in tech.
With the HTC Vive, you can immerse yourself in exhilarating alternate realities that will make you question if reality itself isn’t a VR simulation! You can climb Mount Everest, compete in international ping pong competitions, and even sculpt 3D masterpieces without leaving your living room. Words can’t express how transformative and engaging VR is. It’s already inspired movies like Ready Player One, directed by Steven Spielberg.
So what’s the catch? Why doesn’t everyone already have an HTC Vive? Well, the minimum total cost of a room-scale VR setup is roughly $1,250 and you’ll need a minimum of 6ft x 5ft (2m x 1m) of free space to use it. The Vive itself costs $499 and comes with a headset that precisely tracks your head’s position and rotation, as well as 2 hand controllers, and 2 base stations which you install in the corners of your room to improve tracking.
To run the Vive, you also need a modern Windows pc with a powerful enough graphic processing unit (GPU) to process all of the those rich graphics for each eye quickly. VR takes a lot of number crunching. We recommend the VR-ready SkyTech Shadow Gaming PC which comes with a powerful NVidia GTX 1060 GPU. It’s one of the cheapest VR-ready options around coming in at $750.
Giving your teenager the gift of VR could be one of the most memorable moments of their young life. I still remember the first time I tried the Vive. Needless to say, there’s one in my living room, and my 8 & 9 year old boys love it as much as I do. Your teenage boy will spend hours, if not days, exploring the large ecosystem of VR games and experiences on the Vive.
Note: if you’re considering purchasing the Oculus Rift instead of the HTC Vive, I don’t recommend it. I have both. The controller tracking on the Oculus Rift is frustratingly less accurate than on the Vive. The Oculus Rift controllers glitch out and lose their positioning a lot more frequently than the Vive’s. The Oculus Rift also only tracks movement within a few feet of the computer, which significantly limits the immersiveness of VR. In short, it’s worth sticking to the Vive. My Oculus Rift is gather dust.
Chances are, your son has long gotten past the stage of training wheels, but as his coordination develops into adolescence, his abilities will become more technical. This Schwinn hybrid bike is a good answer to your son’s newfound abilities to ride in all sorts of conditions: the lightweight frame allows for higher speeds, and the tires are up to task of handling on or off the roads. Better yet, since your son’s body is getting a lot bigger, the frame of this bike will be large enough for him until he stops growing.
Better yet, cycling is a high-energy activity, and your son will thank you for getting him off the couch and into the world. And if he enjoys cycling enough, he can graduate to a more specialized bike for whatever style he prefers most. This is a great gift that will last him into his college years as well.
Spikeball is a relatively new game, but chances are, your son’s heard of it and would like to play. This kit comes with everything he needs to set up a game, including instructions for playing and a free app to meet players in the area. In other words, Spikeball is an easy way for your teenager to strengthen relationships new and old while burning a few extra calories along the way.
Now that your teen has acquired advanced motor skills, as well as demonstrated a strong ability to coordinate and concentrate, it’s time to let him learn to fly…a drone. The Holy Stone HS200 is not recommended for users under age 14, so he’s in the perfect age bracket to start working the controls and impress his friends.
The drone comes equipped with technology that minimizes interference, so your child should have no trouble controlling this drone over long distances. It also comes with a 720p camera, and a companion app that allows you to view and capture video footage from the drone on your phone.
This drone will inspire your teenager to get out and explore the world, to be creative, and even to produce, edit, and publish videos. You may be thinking, what’s the point of a drone? You’ll be surprised at the developmental potential.
Your teenager’s problem-solving skills will be tested in this game that requires players not to work against each other — but together. Two to four players must work to keep an island afloat, all while searching for treasure and other helpful items. A wondrous dramatis personae gives players a chance to try out each character’s special abilities, all in the hopes that it will help their team win the game.
This game forces cooperation among players, which is a good skill for teenagers to work on. Your son will enjoy the gameplay while strengthening several friendships in the meantime.
Do you remember, ten or twenty years ago, when you’d rally all the guys in the neighborhood for an impromptu game of capture-the-flag? You probably played with glow-sticks or flashlights, relying on stealth and speed to win the game.
Times have changed.
With Capture the Flag REDUX, your son and his friends can go outside with battery-powered glowing markers as they sprint around opponents to try and capture their “flag”: a glowing orb, probably hidden in the shrubs. This game, as it always has, combines forward thinking skills and split-second decision-making with sheer speed – it comes down to what strategy will fool your enemy.
No longer is D&D reserved only for the nerds: the cult classic game straight out of the eighties has been evolving since its inception, and a massive surge in popularity has made it easier than ever to get your son started. The classic game involves creating not only an entire cast of characters for each campaign, but the Dungeon Master gets to write an entire storyline for his characters to follow — or challenge.
Creativity is key in this game, and your son will enjoy the time to improvise and come up with innovative solutions to unique problems. Each conflict in the game can be overcome with strategy, brute force, or a myriad of other options, and your son will have to think hard if he wants to stay alive.
Included in this set are enough dice for up to six players, as well as blank character sheets, pre-generated characters, and a Dungeon Master’s screen, allowing for as quick a start to the actual gameplay as your son and his friends desire.
Many Lego kits state in bold lettering at the bottom, “For Ages 4-99,” or something similar. Well, Legos are a good toy for everyone (seriously, who doesn’t enjoy them?), but not all kits are created equal. This model of Shanghai’s tallest skyscrapers is listed for everyone older than 12, so your teenager won’t be offended that you got it for him. And at nearly 600 pieces, even as a teenager, he’ll probably find hours of enjoyment putting the set together.
As with several items on this list, this gift stimulates critical thinking abilities while emphasizing creativity. Looking at the overall picture and several steps ahead will enable him to complete the model while showing off his newly acquired perspicacity.
Civilization is a game series started in the early 90s wherein a player role plays as a historic world leader trying to take over the world — but not just through brute force. The game has endless replay-ability because of all the variations that can occur — who do you want to play as? Are you a magnanimous leader or a fearless tyrant?
The game isn’t mindless grinding, either: each new game is another challenge to overcome, where the player must think several centuries of gameplay ahead in order to win. Your son? He’s brimming with ideas, now that the part of his brain that processes abstract thoughts and cause-and-effect relationships has developed — put him to the test, see if he can take on Genghis Khan in a head-to-head and come out on top. For any young man who loves strategy (or perhaps just history), this is the gift for him.
10. Apple iPad & Apple Pencil
The versatility and usefulness of an iPad make it a great gift for teenagers and grandparents alike. Odds are, your son already knows his way around an Apple product and will greatly appreciate a device of his own.
Your son has nearly unlimited options with this device. He can complete schoolwork and coordinate projects or meetings, keep track of his schedule, and download apps that help him with his homework (including tutoring help online). But you know he’s more than a student, and he likes his downtime, too. Fortunately, the iPad comes with enough memory that he’ll easily be able to save all his favorite gaming and social media apps, as well as a massive bank of music, videos and more.
We also recommend you purchase an Apple Pencil, which unlocks a vast creative potential with the iPad. Use the pencil to sketch out rough ideas, take notes, doodle, and even create full masterpieces. Just because he’s a teenager, doesn’t mean he can’t flex his creativity muscles.
Being a teenager means learning to navigate life as an adult, and, as a parent, you should be doing everything you can to prepare him for an independent life. But what happens if his car breaks down? Or he’s in his first apartment and can’t figure how to cook a decent meal? Or wash his clothes?
You can’t spoon feed your son forever, and at some point, he’ll learn what he needs to get by. Or, you can make the process a lot easier on him and get him a copy of The Manual of Manhood. The book answers many questions soon-to-be-adults will be interested in learning, and you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that you’ve done everything you can to keep your son growing.
Toys for Other Age Ranges
For more toy and gift ideas for boys, check out our other great articles:
- Best toys for 1 year old boys
- Best toys for 2 year old boys
- Best toys for 3 year old boys
- Best toys for 4 year old boys
- Best toys for 5 year old boys
- Best toys for 6 year old boys
- Best toys for 7 year old boys
- Best toys for 8 year old boys
- Best toys for 9 year old boys
- Best toys for 10 year old boys
- Best toys for 11 year old boys
- Best toys for 12 year old boys
- Best toys for 13 year old boys
Or get inspired with the best toys for girls:
- Best toys for 1 year old girls
- Best toys for 2 year old girls
- Best toys for 3 year old girls
- Best toys for 4 year old girls
- Best toys for 5 year old girls
We hope you’ve enjoyed this list. While we don’t suggest that these are the only toys your child will ever need, we do think this list of great educational toys for teenage boys is a strong start. If you have any suggestions or feedback, please reach out to us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Criteria for Placement
While listing the best educational resources is never an exact science, we’ve done our best find products that rank highly on the following criteria:
- Developmental impact: Many toys out there like plush dolls are somewhat limited in their developmental impact. We’ve critically evaluated the toys on this list for their impact on physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development.
- Safety: All toys on this list are safe to use, free of toxic compounds like lead and BPA
- Durability: Children love to throw, jump on, and touch everything in sight. The toys on this list are fit to withstand the bumps and hard landings.
- Price: Parenting doesn’t need to be outrageously expensive. We looked for the cheapest products that still meet our developmental and quality requirements.
- Developmental milestones for typical high schoolers – understood.org
- Your son at 16: milestones – webmd.com
- Teenagers developmental milestones – cdc.gov