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Gifts & Fun Technology

11 Best App-Based Games For Tweens (9, 10, 11, 12 Year Olds)

two pre-teen boys looking at a smart phone playing games

It is no secret that tweens love their phones. Like the rest of us, tweens are pretty much tethered to their mobile devices in one way or another, and a big part of that is due to the plethora of fun games available on mobile devices.

In recent years, the mobile games market has grown exponentially. Now, major game companies are making games for and porting beloved console games over to mobile platforms.

Gamers can play as fan-favorite characters and embark on new adventures wherever they go. Plus, as the graphical capabilities of mobile phones get better and better, so too does the quality of the games available. 

However, choosing the right game in the sea of possibilities can be tricky. Some games might look fun but be full of ads and in-app purchases. Plus, some games might only be available for iOS and not Android, or vice versa.

That does not mean that finding fun and age-appropriate games is impossible, though. There are loads of great games available; you need only look.

Following is a list of fun games that are perfect for your tween – that’s your 9 to 12-year-old age group. These games guarantee tons of fun for a low price, or even free!

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Before we dive into the detail, let’s look at how gaming apps for a mobile device such as smartphones or tablets actually work.

Paid and Free Games vs. In-App Purchases

In-app purchases have become a staple of the mobile industry. Rather than paying for a game upfront, companies will release games for free and offer exclusive in-game content for which players can pay real money. 

These purchases can range from a few dollars to major money, so if you are at all concerned about your tween spending money you can always turn off in-app purchases through your mobile device’s settings. (Apple | Android)

Unfortunately, in-app purchases cannot really be avoided. For this reason, we have compiled a list of games that do not require you to pay money to progress. However, most of the games will still have some content available for purchase if players so desire.

It’s essential that you chat with your tween before installing games how these “freemium” games work, as your app store or Apple account are no doubt attached to your credit card!

Online Interactions

Many mobile games feature some sort of multiplayer aspect. As such, many mobile games feature voice or text chat capabilities. These are often unmonitored and, minus a safety filter, let people say whatever they want.

These chat functions can typically be disabled, but as a parent, be warned that some games will allow your tween to interact with others using these platforms. If this is something you are concerned about, we recommend checking your mobile device settings or the game settings to see if they can be turned off.

Best App-Based Games For Tweens

Disclosures: We are participants in the Amazon Associates Program and other affiliate programs that earn us a commission if a qualifying purchase is made.

So on to the good stuff, our “tween approved” app-based games selection for downloading right away:

Mario Kart Tour (iOS & Android)

Mario Kart Tour Mario Kart was first released back in the nineties for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Since then, the franchise has become incredibly popular with frequent releases. Now, gamers can take all of the racing fun the Mario Kart franchise has to offer with them wherever they go.

Mario Kart Tour lets players race against friends, online or against bots, all from their smartphone. Gamers will love the fast-paced and competitive racing action that the series has to offer. 

Featuring beloved Super Mario characters, tweens are sure to have a blast playing this game. There are in-app purchases, but the game is free to download and play without them.

Apple rates this game age 4+, Google Play rates this game for everyone

Stardew Valley (iOS & Android)

Stardew Valley Stardew Valley is a fan-favorite RPG (role-playing game) and is now on mobile devices. In the story, players inherit an old farm in the valley and are tasked with rejuvenating it.

This means making repairs, growing crops, raising livestock, and interacting with the other villagers in the valley. Since its original release, Stardew Valley has become a beloved franchise due to its charming visuals and repeatable gameplay.

Now, players can take the whole valley with them wherever they go with the mobile ports of Stardew Valley. The game is easy to pick up and play but complex enough to keep you coming back! A paid app well worth the investment for the hours of interactive gameplay (free with Google Play Pass).

Apple rates this game age 12+ , Google Play age 10+

Clash of Clans (iOS & Android)

Clash of Clans Clash of Clans is a freemium game from hugely popular developers Supercell. Set in a village environment, the goal of the game is to level up your town hall using gold and elixir; this gives your village new buildings and defences.

Gameplay is online against a random opponent (with no chat function). The players’ objective is to collect gold and elixir without someone attacking their village. The more gold you get, the more defences you can put in place and use your elixir to build your army.

The more gameplay, the larger your village grows and the larger your army. There are in-app opportunities to purchase gems if you want to level up your village quicker. Tweens love it because it is action packed and they love unlocking new rewards and seeing their village grow.

Apple rates this game age 9+, Google Play rates it age 10+

Brawl Stars (iOS & Android)

Brawl Stars Brawl Stars is another freemium game from Supercell. You select a “brawler” (character) and then play against other players with several different mini-games to choose from. The Brawlers use their weapons or fists to try to damage each other in order to win the game and gain trophies.

You can join clubs with your friends or play against random opponents (the chat function is disabled for those registered as under 18’s or can be muted). Tweens love that there are plenty of things to unlock, including new skins, weapons and new brawlers. Tokens are accumulated by both time and winning trophies, along with completing daily and seasonal quests.

Action-packed fun with great graphics (no gory violence); a simple concept but lots of things to explore and achievements to reach. Supercell keeps it fun and engaging for the tween group, frequently releasing new characters and skins.

Apple rates this game age 9+, Google Play rates it age 10+

Clash Royale (iOS & Android)

Clash Royale

One final Supercell entrant is Clash Royale; the premise is quite simple; you select “cards” you want to go into battle with an opponent; it’s a great one for when your tween needs a short game to fill time as each game only takes 3 minutes.

You battle against an opponent (either friends or a random online player) to obtain more crowns than your enemy, and the first to three crowns wins the battle. There are player tutorials for those new to the game so you can understand arenas, playing cards and how to attack and destroy.

There’s no gory violence, but your tweens will need a little practice to win battles. It is quite a tactical game, so may take some time to master, and unlocking new characters and weapons seems fairly necessary – though this can be done without in-app purchases, just be aware the temptation is there!

Apple rates this game age 9+, Google Play rates it age 10+

Fortnite (Android)

Fortnite Pretty much every parent has heard of Fortnite, and for good reason. The game has quickly become an all-time hit, with millions of players battling it out for the top spit every day. 

As such, it is no surprise that the game quickly got a mobile release. Now, players can buddy up or duke it out on their own wherever they go. Fortnite mobile allows players to take all of the action of Fortnite with them in their pocket.

With so many modes, challenges, and items to acquire, this game is sure to have you coming back! Plus, there are tons of seasonal events so there is almost always something new for you to do. 

Fortnite has all of the competitive multiplayer action you could want on your mobile device.  As a bonus, players using the mobile app can also play with other players using a video game system, so tweens can play with their friends no matter their platform.

Recommended for older tweens approaching teens due to mild violence.

NB – There’s a bit of a dispute between the creators Epic Games and Apple/Google Play so currently, you cannot get it on iOS, and if you want it on Android, there are a few work arounds discussed in detail here.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (iOS & Android)

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp Like Stardew Valley, Animal Crossing is a relaxing game first released on Nintendo consoles that has become a beloved franchise by fans. Now, players can play an all-new Animal Crossing title directly from their phone!

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp gives players more Animal Crossing content as they create and explore their campsite. Gamers can complete tasks, interact with other animals, and even play with other gamers.

Many classic characters are back and ready to help players as they upgrade their camp and interact with friends and other gamers around the world. 

Plus, this game is a great alternative to those who don’t have access to the Nintendo Switch version of Animal Crossing or who want a different take on the classic franchise.

Apple & Google Play both rate this game for everyone

Raid: Shadow Legends (iOS & Android)

Raid: Shadow Legends You may have seen the ads for this action RPG online, especially with how popular the game has been getting as of late.

Raid: Shadow Legends features awesome PVE (person versus environment) and PVP (person versus person) action accompanied by great graphics, especially for a game of this scale on mobile devices. Players will embark on an epic adventure as they defeat enemies and upgrade their loot and characters.

The game is free to play and easy to pick up and run with. Plus, tons of creators offer special sign-up bonuses to get free loot and in-game currency, so be sure to check those out.

Recommended for your older tweens due to mild violence.

Monument Valley (iOS & Android)

Monument Valley

Monument Valley is a visually striking game that presents players with mind-bending puzzles. Combining intuitive gameplay with challenging levels, this game is easy to learn but hard to master.

Featuring level designs inspired by famous abstract artists, this game is sure to keep you interested. It is perfect for tweens as it is simple enough to get into but difficult enough to keep you invested.

This game has become increasingly popular and even crossed over into more mainstream content, referenced in several television shows. This is often cited as a game for non-gamers, making it perfect for gamers of all skill levels.

Jigsaw Puzzle – Daily Puzzles (iOS & Android)

Jigsaw Puzzle - Daily Puzzles Doing puzzles is a great way to pass the time, but they take up a lot of space, and it is super easy to lose pieces. With Disney Jigsaw Puzzles, however, you never have to worry about finishing a fantastic puzzle.

Featuring all-time favorite Disney characters, this game offers hours of easy-going fun. With varying levels of difficulty, gamers of all ages can stay engaged with these fun puzzles.

If your tween loves doing puzzles, then this is absolutely the game for them, as it guarantees hours of puzzle fun featuring all of their favorite characters.

The Sims: Mobile (iOS & Android)

The Sims Mobile The Sims is one of those franchises that pretty much everybody knows. It is a classic PC franchise that has finally made its way to mobile devices with The Sims: Mobile. Now, gamers can make their own Sims and play with them anywhere they go.

The Sims sees players making their own virtual characters or families and having them live in a virtual world surrounded by other Sims. Players will make decisions and help their Sim to take care of themselves. 

With this mobile entry into the franchise, players can tackle certain objectives as they strive to provide their Sim with a good life. Plus there are loads of daily challenges and seasonal events that will keep your tween entertained and coming back.

Mobile devices are everywhere, and there is a good chance that your tween uses their mobile device as their main source of entertainment. As a result, tweens everywhere are looking for the right games to keep them engaged during their off-time. 

Finding the right mobile game can be hard, especially when it comes to finding a good game for your tween. There are loads of apps geared towards kids, and apps geared towards teens and adults.

However, the tween market is not as big. Finding a good game that is complex enough to keep your child engaged and having fun while still being appropriate can be tough. However, that does not mean that it is an impossible task.

There are plenty of games that are appropriate for tweens that are also loads of fun! With this list you can find the right fit for your tween and get them some fantastic games for their mobile device.

Found this Tween Game Guide helpful?

Dive into our full collection of tween gift guides, including:

You may also be interested in our full collection of tween gift guides, including:

Girl Gifts 9-years-old
Girl Gifts 10-years-old
Girl Gifts 11-years-old
Girl Gifts 12-years-old
Boy Gifts 9-years-old
Boy Gifts 10-years-old
Boy Gifts 11-years-old
Boy Gifts 12-years-old
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