Thirteen is an age that both parents and kids wait for eagerly – they’re excited, but we’re a little bit shellshocked that their notorious and long-awaited teen years are already (or in their eyes, finally) here! It’s a time filled with new opportunities and challenges for you and your thirteen year old, and one of those challenges can be figuring out exactly what he’s into when what’s “cool” seems to evolve on the daily.

We took a look at how to shop for the best gifts for 13 year old boys as well as some favorite picks we think you’ll love.

The Winners

#1

RockJam 61-Key Electronic Keyboard

Best Overall

Whether they’ve been playing for years or they’re first time learners, a home keyboard is a great way to give kids an opportunity to learn, practice and experiment with new playing styles. This full-size electronic keyboard from RockJam features 100 keyboard sounds and 100 unique rhythms, as well as 50 demo songs to let them see what the keyboard can do.

High quality headphones are included, which means they can miss as many notes as they need to without disturbing a soul. A stand and stool are also included, which can be adjusted for size as necessary. Purchase of this pick also offers one month of free access to the Simply Piano learning app, convenient for old and new pianists alike.

Developmental & Play Insights RockJam 61-Key Electronic Keyboard

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#2

Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones

Upgrade Choice

Beats headphones have become more than just a way to listen to tunes. They’re also a bit of a status symbol, which has many teens clamoring for a pair. Their popularity isn’t surprising given their top-notch quality – they’ve got a 30 foot range and a 12 hour rechargeable battery, so they’re workhorses compared to weaker Bluetooth audio devices.

The soft, cushioned ear cups fit ergonomically over the ear, preventing discomfort and inner-ear irritation, cancelling noise, and containing sound to prevent audio leak. A hard shelled carrying case is included to keep them safe, so parents can feel a little better about their investment holding up long-term.

Developmental & Play Insights Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones

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#3

Piper Computer Kit

Best BUDGET BUY

Building and coding both offer logic boosts to 13 year old boys, and they’re diligent, results-oriented activities that many young teens find fun. That’s why picks like the Piper Computer Kit are often big hits – they give kids a chance to master new skills while working on a cool finished product.

Putting together the fully functioning computer is as simple as following the directions; it’s safe for kids over eight, so 13 year olds will manage it quickly. They’ll learn coding through 11 fun challenges based on Google Blockly, a visual drag-and-drop programming interface. Eventually, they can progress to learning Python, a legitimate first step in their future as a computer programmer!

Developmental & Play Insights Piper Computer Kit

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#4

Carrom Balance Board

If your 13 year old is into skateboarding, he’s no doubt heard of a balance board, a tool often used by pro athletes to help build balance and core strength. You may be familiar with the tool from a yoga or aerobics class – it offers legitimate athletic benefits, and the Carrom Balance Board includes cool, futuristic deck graphics reminiscent of those featured on popular snowboards and skateboards.

It’s a physical toy that doesn’t require tons of space to use, plus he’ll love how it benefits his skateboarding game. Anti-skid strips make this board an extra secure pick, and the weight limit is 300 lbs, so he can keep using it as he grows.

Developmental & Play Insights RDX Carrom Balance Board

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#5

Hosim 1:10 Scale High Speed RC Truck

Sports toys aren’t the only picks that encourage kids to enjoy the great outdoors. RC vehicles can make great companions on their exploratory endeavors, especially when they’re rugged picks that handle multiple terrains well. The Hosim 1:10 Scale High Speed RC Truck scale truck model from Hosim has an independent quad suspension, a shockproof body, and anti-jamming capabilities that prevent issues when friends are using RC toys together. Battery changes are frustration free thanks to a newly designed chamber that removes with only one push. This pick can flip, drift and handle sharp turns easily thanks to 4-channel motion and two powerful independent motors.

Developmental & Play Insights Hosim 1:10 Scale High Speed RC Truck

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#6

Juegoal Wooden Backgammon Set

Backgammon, one of the world’s oldest board games, is a classic pick that encourages them to develop logic and reason by devising a winning strategy. The Juegoal 15 inch Wooden Backgammon Set is a travel-sized and packed version is exceptionally convenient, as it neatly houses the playing pieces, dice and rollers needed to play the game. The pieces are kept secure when the game is folded shut and latched, and a carrying handle can be used to easily transport the lightweight game from place to place. That makes it perfect for trips, sleepovers, parties and outside play. Since it’s a two player game, it’s also a great opportunity to socialize with a buddy, or – gasp – spend some time chatting with a parent.

Developmental & Play Insights LEGO Juegoal Wooden Backgammon Set

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#7

SNAPTAIN S5C Drone

Drones are quickly becoming one of the most sought-after pieces of camera tech. They give users the ability to capture HD images and video from previously unimaginable vantage points. The SNAPTAIN S5C Drone features voice and gesture control, and is beginner friendly thanks to a one-button launch that’s virtually mistake-proof. It can transmit video from distances up to 80 meters, and altitude hold keeps flight steady when they’re trying to grab the perfect shot. It’s best used with an iPhone or iPad device, which isn’t included, and the Snaptain Era app. The app lets users control the drone, edit footage, and upload their creations.

Developmental & Play Insights SNAPTAIN S5C Drone

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#8

Flybar Foam Master Pogo Stick

Pogo sticks don’t have the ubiquity that they once did, which means your 13 year old might not know what they’re looking at when they first see the Foam Master. Once they get the concept, though, just try to get them to stop bouncing! The foam covered grips and frame offer comfortable cushioning and keep the frame looking new even after repeated use.

The wider tip of this pick grants greater stability, and there’s non-slip grips on the feet, which means it’s safer for them to learn to do tricks. The weight limit of the Flybar Foam Master Pogo Stick is 80-160 lbs, so they’ll be able to use it for a few years with no problem, and smaller adults can take a spin – er, bounce – if they wish.

Developmental & Play Insights Flybar Foam Master Pogo Stick

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#9

GoSports Six Player Croquet Set

Croquet is a classic outdoor sport that’s plenty of fun and requires only minimal setup. The GoSports Six Player Croquet Set includes six colorful mallets and balls, nine wickets, two end posts, and a set of rules. The full set stores neatly in a sharp-looking and handy black and white storage tote, so bringing it to an outdoor gathering, on a trip or to the beach is simple. The comfort grip handles are full size, and can be used by players of all sizes. Whether they’re just learning or they’re old pros at croquet, it’s a great physical game for teens to share with friends.

Developmental & Play Insights GoSports Six Player Croquet Set 

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#10

Nintendo 3DS XL Black Edition

Gamer teens – and gamer parents, for that matter – are already well versed in the cool features of the Nintendo DS, the iconic company’s modern handheld platform. Several versions of the console have been released, including the 3DS XL, which is a larger version of the original that offers 3D visual features. The redesign included in the Solgaleo Lunala Black Edition features silver etchings of the two Pokemon on a crisp black background. The unit also has improved processing power over the original DS, as well as built in support for amiibo and NFC and a C Stick for changing in game perspective, a feature many gamers love.

Developmental & Play Insights Nintendo 3DS XL Black Edition

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#11

LEGO Architecture Shanghai Building Kit

LEGO kits are beloved by builders of all ages, as they encourage the use of logic and spatial thinking while providing hours of fun. The LEGO Architecture Shanghai Building Kit collection shows off the beautiful Shanghai skyline, including famous picks like the Shanghai Tower, the World Financial Center, the Oriental Pearl, the Radisson Blu Hotel, the Longhua Temple and Pagoda, and the Chenghuang Miao Temple. This set is compatible with the rest of the LEGO play system, and can be displayed by collectors on the enclosed platform once assembled.

Developmental & Play Insights LEGO Architecture Shanghai Building Kit

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#12

Bluetooth Beanie Music Hat

Many teens love music, and finding their favorite tunes becomes a big part of their personal identity. Earbuds can be uncomfortable and get lost easily, and certain phone manufacturers’ recent designs have made it difficult to use the old-fashioned picks (we’re not naming names), which has left many audiophiles to turn to Bluetooth picks like this soft, cozy beanie.

The Bluetooth Beanie Music Hat is compatible with all smartphones, tablets and music players that have Bluetooth compatibility, and offers up to eight hours of music or talk time. The 45% cotton and 55% acrylic blend hat is comfortable, warm, and no headphone presence is felt during wear, so they’ll love it for outside time in cooler weather.

Developmental & Play Insights Bluetooth Beanie Music Hat

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#13

Escape Room In A Box

Escape rooms have become one of the trendiest ways to spend a weekend afternoon, as they pit an individual or team against a room full of challenging puzzles that must be completed in order to free themselves. This comes through a series of wise decisions, a concept that Mattel has brought to tabletop gaming with their Escape Room in a Box.

Players must cooperate to solve mental and physical challenges via a series of 2D and 3D puzzles in order to “escape” the fictional room – the setup is small, and the fun is big. Up to 8 players can enjoy this cooperative game that will likely remind nerdy parents like us of turn-based role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons.

Developmental & Play Insights Escape Room In A Box

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#15

Wegiel Ambassador European Chess

One of the most well-known tabletop strategy games in the world, chess is challenging to learn and rarefied to master. It encourages logic, reason and planning, all of which are important skills to focus on at 13. This European chess set from Wegiel, renowned manufacturer of champion chess boards, has beautiful detailing, including a beech and birch wood board and felt-bottom chessmen which are carved from hornbeam and sycamore. The hand-crafted set is made in Poland and makes a beautiful statement piece that they can learn well on and enjoy for years to come.

Developmental & Play Insights Wegiel Ambassador European Chess

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#15

PAXCESS Electronic Drum Set

If your child has lovingly informed you that they dream of being a drummer, you may have immediately pictured the impact on the placid peace and quiet of your home. Digital drum pads, like the PAXCESS Electronic Drum Set, offer the advantage of an earphone jack – this means only your little drummer boy needs to hear the cacophony he’s creating as he masters rhythm. This pick is portable and pro-level, featuring one snare, three toms, a crash, a ride, a hi-hat and two foot pedals. This drum pad can be used wirelessly thanks to a 2400mAh rechargeable battery, which offers up to 10 hours of playing time per charge.

Developmental & Play Insights PAXCESS Electronic Drum Set

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How to Pick the Perfect Gift for A-13-year-old Boy

Consider Their Developmental Stage

Thirteen is an age that’s fun but challenging for both you and your child. They’re likely in the throes of early puberty, leading to mood swings, growth spurts and changes that are making them feel more like adults and less like children even though they’re far from grown. This means that some of the best toys for 13 year old boys center around cool tech and sporting gear. They still like to play, but their definition of the term is evolving.

At 13, the desire to fit in with peers can be overwhelming, and social time is important to their well being. Games and outdoor toys that encourage bonding with friends will be extra valuable to them now. It’s also a time when young teenagers are vulnerable to experimenting with risky behavior due to peer pressure, and kids with tons of idle time are especially prone to these issues. Hobbies and projects are great at keeping them occupied in a positive way, which makes age-appropriate art, music and building kids great picks.

Entertainment vs. Education

At 13, their school curriculum begins to seriously ramp up in intensity. They’re learning many new concepts already, and have already mastered the basics, so the educational role parents play is now largely social and practical. Toys that encourage intellectual curiosity without being explicitly educational are great, especially when they reinforce the concepts they’re learning in the classroom. Education can also mean learning new skills, and if they’re showing interest in music, it’s a great time to get them a starter instrument.

Entertaining toys and gifts are great for 13 year olds, who are particularly prone to get into mischief in their downtime. Though they shouldn’t be using screens excessively – about two hours a day maximum is ideal – other “fun” toys like more advanced RC cars and drones are fast favorites.

Physical vs. Cognitive vs. Social

Staying physically active is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for all people. If your teen has established a love of physical outdoor play and sportsmanship throughout childhood, he probably won’t need much encouragement to get out there and play physically. Sports toys, especially sets that can be used with friends, help him stay fit and social at the same time. At 13, even less physically-inclined kids typically jump at the chance to spend time with peers, which means these toys can also be great at getting your resident couch potato outside to play.

From a cognitive standpoint, your 13 year old is absorbing a lot of knowledge in the classroom – much of it is scholastic, but some is social, which we’ll touch on momentarily. Reinforcing his classroom learning can be helpful, as can presenting mental challenges in the form of puzzles, which help them develop logic skills while having fun.

At school, kids are learning to socialize in new ways. Growing up introduces new group dynamics, and as peers break off into social groups, young teens are often falling over themselves to fit in somewhere. Toys and games that center around socialization help them create opportunities to bond, which is especially important at 13, when kids are still finding themselves socially.

Digital vs. Manual

Digital toys are the favorites of many 13 year old boys, and they’re a welcome addition within reason. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with them cutting loose and playing some games, as long as there’s limits on the time spent. Two hours a day is a fair amount of playtime that generally satisfies kids while teaching them to moderate the way they play.

Manual toys, especially those designed for skill-building, are ideal picks. They’re past the age of needing help with motor development, but staying active with sports toys and leveling up their logic skills with building kits are both great contributions to their healthy growth.

Wrapping Up

They’re learning, changing, and growing like weeds, but our 13 year olds still need lots of love, support and guidance. Opportunities for them to develop mentally, physically and socially will be well received by most kids, plus they’re gifts that parents can feel good about. By giving them room to grow and the tools they need to do so, we can feel confident that our young teens are on a positive path to a healthy and happy future.

Quick Decision

RockJam electronic keyboard – Best Overall
This pick also offers one month of free access to the Simply Piano learning app, convenient for old and new pianists alike.

Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones – Upgrade Choice
A bit of a status symbol, which has many teens clamoring for a pair. A top-notch quality so parents can feel a little better about their investment holding up long-term.

Legit Sports Giant Tumbling Timbers – Best Budget Buy
Building and coding both offer logic boosts to 13 year old boys, and they’re diligent, results-oriented activities that many young teens find fun.

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Hannah H.

Hannah H.

Hannah is both a parent and a freelance journalist and author. You go, girl! She is an impeccable wordsmith and her warm and witty outlook on life makes her pieces a joy to read.

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