Kids + Media | Parenting Tools

Star Wars: An Age-by-Age Guide to the Whole Universe

Use these recommendations when introducing your kids to Luke, Leia and the whole gang

Photo credit: Common Sense Media

Ever since that first menacing star destroyer loomed across movie screens in 1977, kids of all ages have been enamored with the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and all their friends (and enemies!). Even kids as young as 2 and 3 can name all the franchise's major characters, which often tempts parents who also grew up loving the movies to plan a Star Wars movie night, especially with the arrival of Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

But not all Star Wars movies, TV shows games, and apps are the same when it comes to intensity and impact. The silly fun of Lego Star Wars is a lot easier for younger elementary schoolers to handle than the sight of Anakin Skywalker crawling out of a bubbling pit of lava in Revenge of the Sith, for example.

If your family is ready for lightsabers and the Force, here's a quick age guide for enjoying Star Wars with your kids. Keep in mind that all kids are different, so assess your child's ability to handle peril and conflict before you make the jump to hyperspace.

Age 6 — Your padawan is ready to begin with the basics; nothing too scary.

WatchLego Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles (TV show)
Read/playStar Wars Journeys: The Phantom Menace (interactive storybook app)
Discuss: Did you notice any violent moments/scenes when you watched/played these titles? Do you think they're important to the story? How could the Star Wars stories be told without them?

Angry Birds: Star Wars II | Photo credit: Common Sense Media

Age 7 — Training continues: Kids are ready for the first (original trilogy) movie — plenty of action, but it all works out OK — and some fun apps.

WatchStar Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope (movie), Lego Star Wars: Droid Tales (TV show) or Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars (TV special)
Play: Angry Birds: Star Wars (app), Angry Birds: Star Wars II (app), Star Wars (app) or Star Wars: Heroes Path (app)
Discuss: Who do you think are the best role models in the Star Wars universe? Why? What makes them admirable?

Ages 8 to 9 — The original saga concludes: The prequels begin and the story expands in more new directions. Action and peril get more intense; characters are more conflicted.

Watch: Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (movie), Star Wars: Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi (movie), Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace (movie), Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones (movie), Star Wars: The Clone Wars (TV show) or Star Wars: Rebels (TV show)
Play: Star Wars: Tiny Death Star (app), Star Wars Journeys: Beginnings (app) or Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes (app)
ReadOrigami Yoda series (books), Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi or Beware the Power of the Dark Side!
Discuss: Talk about the hype surrounding the Star Wars franchise. Is it deserved? What's the appeal?

Origami Yoga | Photo credit: Common Sense Media

Ages 10 to 11 — Get in on the action: Games and the internet bridge the gap between the kid-friendly movies and the edgier Revenge of the Sith.

PlayLego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (game) or Kinect Star Wars (game) (website)
WatchStar Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens (movie) or Spaceballs (movie — a fun parody with a few iffy bits)
Discuss: How is video game violence different from movie violence? Does one have more impact than the other? How does it affect things when characters are cartoony (such as Lego mini-figures) vs. real people?

Ages 12 to 13: Beware the Dark Side — The final movie of the prequel trilogy is extremely intense.

PlayStar Wars: Commander - Worlds in Conflict (app), Star Wars: The Old Republic - Knights of the Fallen Empire (game) or Star Wars: Battlefront (game)
WatchStar Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (movie)
Discuss: How does Anakin deal with anger in this movie? What are some other options for managing frustration and disappointment? What are the two sides of the Force?

Check out the complete Common Sense Media list of all things Star Wars.

Originally published by Common Sense Media, written by Betsy Bozech

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