Raising a gamer girl, with help from the Xbox One S (Minecraft Edition)

As a dad of a daughter, I’ve always been keen to undermine the idea that some activities or pastimes are for boys only – whether it’s climbing trees, being into Star Wars, or playing video games…

So gaming is an area I’ve been keen to explore with my daughter, especially before any sense of ‘that’s for boys’ seeps into her consciousness.

We’ve just upgraded our existing console (which predates my becoming a parent) to an Xbox One – specifically the Xbox One S Minecraft Favourites Bundle.

To me, the Xbox brand has always been synonymous with serious gaming, aimed at older kids and adults – so how does it work in a family environment? Are there games that my young daughter can play? What other uses are there for it? How easy is it to set up? (This is our first Xbox).

Xbox One S: What’s in the box

You get a white 500gb Xbox S, a wireless controller (with batteries), power lead, and a HDMI cable. You also get download codes for any games included in the bundle (in this case Minecraft) and a 14-day Xbox Live Gold trial. And it’s all in very cool Minecraft packaging.

The initial set-up is very easy. There’s a pamphlet showing you how connect it, but it’s so simple you don’t really need it – connect HDMI lead from Xbox to TV, plug in power, insert batteries into controller, and power up.

You also have the option of running any set top box through the Xbox, but this is something we have yet to explore. I would recommend downloading the smartphone app. Among other things, it doubles as a remote control and makes entering redeemable codes a whole lot simpler.

So – easy, you’re ready to go! Ok, not so fast.

Configuring your Xbox One S: Think of the Kids!

Once it’s on and hooked up to your screen – the real set up begins. You will be guided by onscreen instructions to set language, region, and display settings – as well as the most time consuming, the big bad system update. Have your wifi details standing by. And a glass of wine.

This set up – while easy to do – is time consuming, with all the downloads and installing.  You’ll even need to update the controller software, download a DVD/BluRay player, set parental controls, and sort out an Xbox live account. You’re looking at a good hour or 2.

If you’re buying this for the kids, they are going to want to play with this as soon as possible. My advice is to get this set up done prior to the big reveal to your kids.  After you’ve completed it, you can still package it back and wrap it up to maximise their surprise. If this is for Xmas, this is a good activity to have running in the background while wrapping their presents and drinking mulled wine. 🙂

This console came bundled with Minecraft. I’ll go into the game more in another post (as Minecraft deserves a post of it’s own), but as there was no physical copy of the game – it was a redeemable code – this was something else that needed to be downloaded and installed prior to use.

For more on how to set up your console, especially if you’re buying it as a present, head to the Xbox One S family hub and check out this video too.


The Xbox One S: Gaming console and media hub

For me, as well as getting my daughter into to the fun of gaming early, having access to other girl empowering media is vitally important. So it’s great that we can watch the likes of My Little Pony, Young Justice, and The Legend of Korra via our Xbox, with streaming apps like Amazon Video and Netflix. There are also plenty of movies downloads to rent or buy.

It’s also worth noting that the Xbox One S offers 4k streaming (from available services) for those already with, or looking to upgrade to, a new 4k UHD TV.

The Xbox One S: A console for all the family 

There’s lots more to explore, but so far it’s easy to see that the Xbox One S is not only a powerful gaming console, but a versatile media hub – and is perfect to have at the heart of a modern family living room.

While Minecraft is a great game to enjoy with your kids, I am really looking forward to upgrading our existing family games – especially LEGO Dimensions. And browsing the Xbox games available to download, it’s clear there are plenty of other great titles for kids too.

My daughter is increasingly keen on gaming, and the addition of the Xbox One S into our household has only encouraged it. So far, it looks like we have a gamer girl in the making.

Also raising a new generation of gamer girls is Darren of Love All Dads. Check out his Xbox video with his daughters:


The Xbox One S Minecraft Bundle (500GB) has an RRP of £249.99.

**This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Xbox UK.**

Disney Life: Streaming Service and App review

Disney movies and TV shows are available on many different streaming services. So is there a place for DisneyLife, their very own streaming service?

So, you decide it’s time to finally show your kid Sleeping Beauty. You then search your subscription streaming services, which all have Disney sections, and it’s nowhere to be found. What to do? Enter, DisneyLife.

If there’s one brand that dominates childhood, it continues to be Disney. As well as films, they also have TV shows, books, music, and now apps. All of that comes together in DisneyLife.

For £9.99 a month, the (UK only) app not only allows you to stream their films and TV content, you can also stream soundtracks, as well as access interactive books. Limited content can also be  stored on your tablet/smartphone. You can download one free Disney app per month as well.

The big draw for me was the access to movies. While some are available on the other streaming services we have, it’s not complete and subject to the whims of whatever deals are made. Here, you get (as far as I can tell) all classic Disney (including our sought after Sleeping Beauty) and Pixar movies.

I admit, without doing my research, I just assumed I would be able to download the app to my PS3 or Apple TV and stream content to our TV that way. However, the app is only for compatible Apple and Android tablets and smartphones.

So I downloaded the app to iPhone and iPad – and it turns out I could stream content to our TV via the Apple TV. It was a bit more fiddly than I would have liked, but ok.

Settling down to watch a movie, you get a decent quality HD stream. Playback was mostly ok. It didn’t buffer into a low quality feed like others do, however it was a little buggy – we grew to expect a handful of picture freezes during a movie (sound always continued).

While this was annoying, I’ll be honest and say that this could be down to the ageing iOS devices we have. I own an iPhone 4S and iPad 2, which are older than our 4 1/2 year-old daughter.

Tablet screen time with my daughter is pretty limited, but this had so much content that she was (a little to easily) immersed in this. There are simple age restrictions if desired, so that was no problem.

Content can be navigated via various sections, such as categories, characters, or brand. Disney Classic and Pixar were well populated. Marvel had lots of books and cartoons, such as 3 seasons of Ultimate Spider-Man.

Star Wars Rebels only has the first series of the show but plenty of other media such as BTS videos and best of all the Early Reader books. There was a Disney Princess section that was full of everything I dislike about Disney.

I think these kind of apps come into their own when travelling. I know from experience how much of a lifesaver these can be during long haul travel, when coping with endless flights and jetlag. The ability to store content to the device, when access to wifi can be limited and/or expensive, is a great option to have.

Is it worth £9.99 a month? Well, that will depend on how much Disney you have – or want – in your family life.

For me, I was glad to be able to show my daughter the likes of Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella during the free trial – without us having to own them, as I hope I never have to see them again.


Disclosure: We were given a 6 month subscription to the service for the purposes of this review.

DisneyLife © Disney. All rights reserved.
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