Updated December 16, 2020 by Karen Bennett

The 10 Best 12 Year Old Boy Gifts

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This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in September of 2015. Take the stress out of picking out the perfect present for the 12-year-old boy in your life with our imaginative selection of fun gift ideas. Here you’ll find some of the latest electronics, exciting options that will entice him outside into the fresh air, and plenty of engaging games and activities that are sure to keep him happily occupied while indoors on a rainy day. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Nintendo Switch

2. Laser X Laser Tag Set

3. Nerf N-Strike Target Set

Editor's Notes

December 14, 2020:

Joining the selection today is the QI-EU Wireless Charger, a convenient way to charge multiple electronics at once, such as a cell phone, smartwatch, and earbuds. It's also got a handy compartment that can used to charge an Apple Pencil. It's equipped with an adjustable-angle support and an anti-slip silicone strip, so you can place your phone at an angle that allows you to view the screen while it's charging. It's available in four colors and can be folded up easily when not in use for compact storage. It replaces the Oureal Walkie Talkies, which leave the list today due to availability issues.

Kids will enjoy the mesmerizing show put on by the newly added BlissLights Sky Lite, which projects onto the ceiling green stars over a cloudy blue background. It lets you cycle through various special effects as well as adjust the brightness to your liking, and for those who use it to fall asleep, a six-hour timer shuts it off automatically. It replaces the Estes 1469 Tandem-X, a model rocket kit that involves a somewhat complicated assembly process, and for which various additional items need to be purchased separately, including two rocket engines. We’re still partial to the Nintendo Switch, which remains a hot ticket item, thanks to popular games like “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” and “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe”. Since tweens often also enjoy fast-paced outdoor activities, our list also includes the exciting 2-person Laser X Laser Tag Set, the cool military-designed Syma S111G RC Helicopter and the easy-to-use Force1 Blue Jay Drone.

November 19, 2019:

Coming on board in this update is the highly popular Nintendo Switch. It’s a hit with many a kid (and adult) for a variety of reasons. For one, it’s convenient to be able to take your games from the console to your TV, when you’re in the mood for a larger picture. Another reason is it can be used to play some iconic games (think “Mario Kart”, “Super Mario Party” and “Tetris”) as well as some currently popular ones (think “Fortnite” and “Minecraft”). Leaving the list to make room for the Switch (which is better suited for a 12-year-old boy) is the YI Action Camera.

Also new to the list is the Syma S111G RC Helicopter, which replaces the no-longer-available Syma S102G RC Helicopter. This newer model is gyro stabilized, making it easy for beginners to control. It gets about 5-8 minutes of flying time per charge (and recharging can take around 40 minutes), and can be controlled for up to 26 feet.

If you’re a true planner, you’re already thinking about next year. Check out our list of Best 13 Year Old Boy Gifts for a wide range of suitable gifts to welcome him to his teen years.

Special Honors

The Book Drop Books for Middle Grade This subscription makes a great gift if you’ve got a tween who is a bookworm. Each month, you’ll receive one paperback geared toward middle-school readers. Each featured book is within the Lexile range of 650 to 890, and the selection represents an assortment of genres with strong and diverse characters. You can choose a 3-, 6-, or 12-month pre-paid subscription as well as a month-to-month option. Included is a surprised hand-wrapped paperback each month, often along with an accompanying signed bookplate or a letter from the book’s author. thebookdrop.com

Flashing Bike Light Kit Kids will feel like they’re cruising at light speed with this STEM kit which lets them build their own wireless bike lights. They can strap them on their spokes for an eye-catching, glowing show come nighttime. In addition to being fun, it’s an interactive way to teach some principles of technology. uncommongoods.com

4. QI-EU Wireless Charger

5. NFL Game Day Board Game

6. Snap Circuits SC-300

7. Syma S111G RC Helicopter

8. BlissLights Sky Lite

9. Force1 Blue Jay Drone

10. Sphero BB-8 Robot

How To Pick A Gift For A 12 Year Old Boy

You've probably observed the fact that your child is becoming more combative, and doesn't like it when people disagree with him or disapprove of something he does.

Children go through several important phases of development around age 12. You've probably observed the fact that your child is becoming more combative, and doesn't like it when people disagree with him or disapprove of something he does. That's because this is the age when adolescent egocentrism happens. This is a time when children feel as if everyone is watching them and judging them. They also feel at this time that their feelings and experiences are unique to them and that nobody understands them. For this reason, they can be very sensitive to conflict and disapproval.

Buying your boy gifts that help him build confidence is important at this age. Items that facilitate a little healthy competition, like remote control helicopters that they can race with friends or faux crossbows that they can shoot at targets, are a great option. Peer relationships are important throughout childhood, but they become especially critical during early adolescence when cultivating relationships outside of the home helps a child feel more independent and confident. Gifts that let 12-year-old boys work together towards a common goal, like walkie-talkies that enable them to carry out covert missions, or team games, help them bond with their peers.

Metacognition, or the ability to think about one's own thinking, starts to happen at this age, too. It's an important part of helping your child grow into a socially responsible young adult. Child psychology experts recommend activities and games that give a child the chance to make low-stakes decisions. So, something like a sports-related board game or a strategy game makes a great gift. These help young boys make minimal mistakes that encourage them to think about how they can approach a problem differently next time.

Ensuring Your Gifts Are Age Appropriate

Experienced parents dread age 12. This is when children take an interest in risky content, like that of a violent nature. Boys and young men can be drawn to violence so it's important that parents closely monitor what they read, watch and play as children. Your child won't want to play Nintendo forever, but you can see his interest in more complex games as an opportunity for important conversations. Many video and board games, for example, give the player the option to be a good or evil character. Talk to your child about what he believes to be the motives behind the characters, and what good and evil mean to him.

Your child won't want to play Nintendo forever, but you can see his interest in more complex games as an opportunity for important conversations.

Sometimes the plot of a game isn't controversial, but the traits of the characters are. For example, your child can play a videogame character who always holds a cigarette, or carries a flask with him. This can provide an opportunity for you to talk to your child about his ideas and experiences regarding these substances. The game may ultimately be age appropriate but might contain small details that you should at least have a conversation with your child about.

This is too young of an age for children to witness overtly sexual scenarios, but many games and books walk the line. A Pirates of the Caribbean themed game, for example, might feature prostitutes in passing. It might not be obvious from the description or packaging of the game that these characters will appear, so it's important that parents play games before showing them to their kids. This allows them to scan them for inappropriate content before their child gets a chance to see it.

More Gift Buying Tips

While a lot of gifts for young boys focus on sports and competition, it's important to cultivate your son's other interests like math and science too. Studies have found that the more involved parents are with their children's education, the better they do in school. So making educational games a part of a child's downtime at home can be a fun way to get involved. Board and video games that reward children for solving math and science equations can help them associate positive feelings with learning.

While a lot of gifts for young boys focus on sports and competition, it's important to cultivate your son's other interests like math and science too.

No parent likes to have toys pile up in the home, so to limit the clutter, buy your son gifts that can grow with him for years. Things like electrical scooters are appropriate for children into their mid teens, and a young boy who doesn't have a car yet always wants his own independent form of transportation. Some toys, like rocket ships and model cars, stop being entertaining past a certain age, but they can make a great decorative piece for a boy's room for years to come.

Even though peer relationships are important at this time, it's still critical to a child's development that he spends time with his parents. Unfortunately boys have a tendency to pull away from their parents around age 12. For this reason, finding games that you can play with your child and activities that you can do together make great gifts. They also help ensure that you keep a strong relationship with your child.


Karen Bennett
Last updated on December 16, 2020 by Karen Bennett

Karen Bennett lives in Chicago with her family, and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found practicing yoga or cheering on her kids at soccer games. She holds a master’s degree in journalism and a bachelor’s in English, and her writing has been published in various local newspapers, as well as “The Cheat Sheet,” “Illinois Legal Times,” and “USA Today.” She has also written search engine news page headlines and worked as a product manager for a digital marketing company. Her expertise is in literature, nonfiction, textbooks, home products, kids' games and toys, hardware, teaching accessories, and art materials.


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