If you take a look around, you’ll probably see more people wearing fitness tracking devices than those who aren’t. They’ve become uber popular in the last few years and now it seems that the craze – albeit a healthy one – has spread to the younger generation as well. Kids’ fitness watches are some of the hottest techno gadgets on the market and it’s not hard to see why!
Before you shell out a hunk of cash for these must-have devices, do some homework so you choose the fitness watch that’s best suited to your own child. The market is saturated with brand name and knock-off devices, so studying the specifics of each watch and measuring them against the interests and needs of your kids is a must. To help with this, we’ve compiled a list of the five best fitness watches for kids.
1. Garmin Vivofit Jr 2
- Swim-friendly kids activity tracker with...
- Kid-tough adjustable band, features a...
- Syncs with free mobile app, which...
- Kids Advance in bb-8’s adventure: A...
- Tracks steps, sleep and 60 minutes of...
These super cool kids’ fitness trackers are visually fantastic! They’re probably the most visually appealing – aka the coolest! – fitness watch on the market. You can choose one that has a bright, all-over print on the band, like Captain America, Star Wars, Minnie Mouse, or Star Wars’ BB8. Or, for something a little more low-key, there are rubberized bands that have a sort of etched-in design, like Disney princesses or Spider-Man, or you could choose a patterned band, like a green camo print or a “red lava” design.
From the parents’ perspective, the best feature of this particular model watch is that it can track kids’ chores! Once the parent downloads the app they can list chores for the child, and one of the displays on the watch face will show how many of the chores have been finished: 3/10, 5/8, etc. And when they do complete these chores, kids are rewarded with coins that can be exchanged for rewards set by the parents: extra TV time, pizza for dinner, new toy, etc.
On the downside, the cute, colorful band designs, as well as the overall games and features, may be too juvenile for tween-aged kids. And although these devices are waterproof, they are not sand-proof, so if the wearer spends any time at the beach, the watch is almost sure to get damaged.
- Disney branded
- Tracks chores and responsibilities
- Battery lasts for an entire year
- Not suitable for tweens
- App doesn’t sync automatically
- Not sandproof
2. LeapFrog LeapBand Activity Tracker
- Experience the first activity tracker...
- Preload LeapBand with 50 active...
- Parent controls on LeapFrog Connect make...
- Encourages active play, nurturing and...
- Ages 4-7 years
Although the packaging claims it’s for kids ages 4-7, the specific features and overall look of the fitness watch is more fitted for the 3-5 bracket. Preschoolers will love that they can choose their own virtual pet, either a cat, monkey, penguin, or one of several other options. When they complete challenges assigned by their LeapBand, kids are rewarded with points that allow them to get treats for their pets, bonus games, etc. The challenges given will get your kids wiggling like worms and spinning like helicopters! It’s great for getting the young’uns off the couch and moving their bodies in all kinds of ways.
For kids who can’t yet read or tell time on their own, this fitness tracker doubles as a sweet learning device. The digital watch face will show the time either in digital, analog, or even verbal format Another feature parents appreciate is the accompanying app that allows them to set the challenges for their kids. This way, parents can track precisely which activities are being accomplished, how often the child is active, and at which times are they moving the most.
The design of this one is a bit clunky, and the band is reportedly quite small. The biggest criticism for the LeapBand, however, is that it’s not a true pedometer; it doesn’t track steps. Yes, it tracks when the wearer is “active,” but it doesn’t say how many helicopter spins have been done, how many kangaroo jumps have been logged, or how many steps have been taken. Also, the battery isn’t ideal – it has to be charged every day.
- Cool virtual pets and rewards
- Gets kids moving in many ways, not just walking or running
- Audio instructions make it good for pre-readers
- Games can be played seated – doesn’t encourage activity
- Bulky shape and size
- Not a pedometer
3. Fitbit Zip
- Tracks steps, distance and calories...
- Syncs automatically to your computer or...
- Set goals, view progress and earn...
- Share and compete with friends...
- Free iphone and android application
Fitbit is perhaps the most recognized name in fitness tracking devices, and the nifty little Zip is as stylish and convenient as you’d expect. It looks like a traditional pedometer, quite small with a simple display – it was released back in 2012 before Fitbit had done much venturing into bracelet-style units. It comes in a subtle grey tone or in a few vibrant colors like bright green, pink, or blue. You can also purchase slip-on cases in a variety of colors. The silicone cases make it rain, splash, and sweat proof. This reviewer called it “a pedometer on steroids.”
The Zip’s small size means that it can easily be slipped into a pocket or clipped onto your child’s clothing and doesn’t become cumbersome. It’s convenient for kids playing soccer, basketball, etc., and there’s little risk of it getting damaged since it can be placed in a spot where contact with other people, object, or surfaces is going to be minimal. Your kids’ steps, distance walked/run, and calories burned are all tracked and can be viewed on the Fitbit itself and also online through a personalized Fitbit account. Through this account, you or your child can also set goals and daily targets.
The display is very basic so your kiddos might not be drawn to its aesthetics, and while the clip-on feature may be convenient for many because it isn’t a truly secure fastening, kids are apt to lose it. The battery isn’t known to last as long as Fitbit claims either – some say it only takes a few weeks before they need to order a replacement battery.
- Lightweight and versatile
- Syncs automatically when within 20 feet of computer or device
- Easy for kids to lose
- Batteries need frequent replacement
- Design is not as bright or attractive to kids
4. VTech Kidizoom DX2
- Two cameras allow you to take videos,...
- Helps kids learn to tell time with 55...
- Monster catcher game creates an...
- Includes a motion sensor for active play...
- Using the included Micro-USB cable,...
The coolest feature of this kids’ fitness tracker is that it has a double camera! Kids can take videos, selfies, and any other kind of photos they want and can even choose from a selection of Snapchat-like filters and animations to add to the pics. These are easily uploaded by attaching the device to a computer with a micro-USB cable. Kids can also have fun customizing the display of their watch using the photos they took themselves.
This device is quite similar to the LeapBand fitness tracker, but the Kidizoom is set apart by its touchscreen technology and the fact that it does act as a true pedometer. It has a whopping 55 different watch displays, including digital and analog options. There are some cool games included on the device and more that can be downloaded. Some regular games that can be played while sitting at home or in the car, and some that inspire activity. Perhaps the best is the “monster catcher” prompts the wearer to get moving and hunt for monsters in the real world, capturing them on the watch when they’re found. The parental controls allow you to limit playtime, so you know your youngsters aren’t using it as just another screen. You can also download the mobile app and use it to set challenges for your little ones.
Unfortunately, the touchscreen technology seems oddly paired with the inexpensive plastic band, and these bands are notoriously easy to break. The device doesn’t hold its charge for much longer than a day, and although it’s splashproof, it’s definitely not waterproof – which is what you’d expect from a smartwatch, but maybe not a fitness tracker. It also carries a hefty price tag.
- Double camera
- Monster detector game kids will love
- Easy for kids to navigate
- High price tag
- Needs charging every day
- Not waterproof
5. Fitbit Ace
- Tracks steps, active minutes and sleep...
- Reward kids for hitting goals with...
- A showerproof tracker that survives...
- Syncs stats wirelessly and automatically...
- In the Fitbit app, parents create an...
Fitbit’s kid-specific fitness tracker is identical to the Fitbit Alta except it allows the parent to control the settings and data via an app. Once parents log into the Kidview app they can see their child’s step counts, distance traveled, minutes of activity, sleep patterns, etc. You can even set and send reminders to get your kids moving. It’s also easy for parents to set up challenges between them and their kids, or between the kids themselves.
There are lots of colorful bands available for the Ace, which is particularly convenient if you have several kids and they all have this Fitbit – each kid can have a different color so they don’t get mixed up. There are also 10 different clock faces to choose from, so they’re able to personalize it a bit more. Unlike other activity trackers with touchscreens, this device requires a pretty solid tap on its surface before it will change displays, which this reviewer points out is a good thing since accidental taps happen often, especially with active kids.
Although Fitbit markets the Ace for kids, the text and numbers of the display are pretty small, so it’s not great for smaller children or poor readers. It’s also a shame that even though it’s a kid-specific fitness tracker, Fitbit didn’t include tracking for other activities like biking, sports, etc. It doesn’t track swimming either, which is a good thing since the device isn’t completely waterproof – “showerproof” but not waterproof.
- Five-day battery life
- Display shows progress in real time
- Can pair with parents’ Fitbits for fun challenges
- Small letters and numbers on the display
- Doesn’t track biking or other activities
- Exactly like Fitbit Alta
You may think that kids don’t need fitness trackers since they already act like balls of never-ending energy. Unfortunately, statistics show that American children are becoming increasingly less active. This means that parents should use whatever means necessary to encourage their young ones to get moving, and wearable fitness trackers can be a great tool in this crusade.
The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recently released their revised guidelines regarding physical activity and it says that kids ages 3 through 5 should be active (either light, moderate, or vigorous activity) for at least three hours each day. Older children, ages 6 through 17, should have at least one hour of moderate or vigorous activity each day. However, one out of three children in the U.S. is overweight – and teens who are overweight are extremely likely to stay overweight or even become obese in adulthood.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, only one out of three children are active every day. This is particularly disturbing when you add in the fact that kids now spend an average of 7.5 hours in front of a screen each day. The connection here is obvious but the solution not as simple to determine. How do you motivate kids to put down the screen and pick up the pace?
Most of us know that children will mimic the actions of the adults in their lives, so if your kids see you wearing your own fitness device, they’ll want to do the same. When the adults in their lives are aware of their own activity levels, are challenging each other and making an effort to improve their exercise habits, the kids will want to join in.
Do you have a competitive child? Most wearable fitness devices allow the user to set personal activity goals, and many have methods of connecting to other devices, those of friends and family, for challenges and competitions. These types of motivations can encourage your ambitious youngsters to keep active so they can “win.” It’s more of a win than they know!
Maybe you have little ones who are motivated by prizes. Nearly all of the kids’ fitness watches on the market have some form of reward system integrated into the programming. The wearer might receive points when they reach a certain step goal or gain access to new online games when they win a challenge with another device wearer. Sometimes the device dispenses coins or points for various activities and those can be cashed in for greater prizes, some digital and some physical, provided by the parents. Either way, wearable fitness trackers can be appealing to kids who love earning and winning prizes.
Do you have overly-energetic kids but you’re sometimes unsure of how to channel the energy? Devices like the LeapBand can channel this energy into fun movements and exercises: spinning like a helicopter, crawling like a turtle, and dancing like a chicken are all examples of how your kids can move around and gain “points” while also expelling all their spirit and intensity that sometimes drives you crazy.
If you give your kids fitness trackers, though, and use them to force activity instead of enjoying the processes and challenges together as a family, you probably won’t achieve the desired effect. Just as kids will want to copy you if you’re using your own smartwatch to be more active, they’ll also want to copy your couch potato-ing, whether or not they have their own fitness device. It’s also important to encourage activity even when there’s not a device recording the kids’ every move. If they’re so dependent on the fitness tracker that a dead battery means they’re dead in the water, something’s wrong. While these tracking devices are fun, they should be seen as a fun addition to an active lifestyle, not a reason to HAVE this lifestyle.
Calorie-tracking devices can be especially tricky, as are those that track body fat percentages. You don’t want to promote an unhealthy obsession with weight at an early age. Really, activity levels for kids shouldn’t be thought of in terms of weight anyway but instead should be focused on maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle.
Most importantly, parents need to remember that activity tracking devices for kids are not the answer to all their fitness or weight-related problems. Many of these techy toys have screens and the ability to play games – a bad combination for kids who already spend too much time in front of the computer, tablet, etc. The goal is to get the kiddos moving and set the tone for a life full of vigorous activities that can add up to a well-rounded healthy lifestyle.
Previously known as Healthy Metrics Research, Fibit was founded in 2007 and is now one of the top producers of wearable fitness trackers, with the most recognizable name. Four of Wire Cutter’s top 13 fitness watches are made by Fitbit, and the company reported sales of $1.5 billion in 2018.
Garmin Ltd. creates products for navigation, communication, and information devices for use in the marine, outdoor, fitness, auto, and aviation fields. It was founded in 1989 as “ProNav” and its first product was a GPS unit. Since then, the company has branched out to create many different products, and in 2018, Garmin reported an annual income of $3.3 billion.
A household name within North America, LeapFrog Enterprises has been creating technology-based learning products for kids since it was founded in 1995. Their products are sold in more than 25 countries around the world. Although often thought to be a competitor of Vtech, LeapFrog Enterprises was purchased by VTech for $72 million.
Established in 1967, Vtech manufactures and distributes consumer electronics around the world. Their headquarters is in Hong Kong, there’s a manufacturing facility in mainland China, and there are employees and operations in 13 other countries, including Canada and the U.S. As of September 2018, Vtech was worth HK$22.7.
As one of the leading names in the sports equipment industry, it’s no surprise that in Adidas had sales of over $27 billion in 2018. The company’s headquarters is in Germany but it employs over 57,000 people around the world. Adi Dassler began work in his mother’s kitchen in 1924 and now headed by CEO Kasper Rorsted and worn by celebrity athletes, both at world-renowned events and on a daily basis.
What is a fitness watch?
A fitness watch or tracker is any computerized device that monitors a person’s physical activity and displays their progress in one form or another. Some devices have digital displays for announcing the wearer’s step count, distance walked/traveled, pulse rate, time of day, etc., while others display the information via an app or linked website. Most fitness watches are worn on the wrist, but there are a few models that clip to clothing or are otherwise fixed to the wearer’s body.
Why do kids need specialized fitness watches?
Really, kids don’t necessarily need fitness trackers especially designed for them, but they do help. While adults are drawn to sleek and functional devices, children are drawn to bright colors, love to play games, and enjoy learning new things, so tech companies have created their products based on this knowledge. Kids’ fitness watches are more colorful, are associated with popular television and movie characters, and use various games and reward systems that appeal specifically to younger audiences. Adult fitness watches simply provide information and statistics in a logical manner, not in the exuberant, congratulatory manner kids appreciate.
How much do fitness watches for kids cost?
The prices can vary over all makes and models of children’s fitness tracking devices, but they’re usually in the $50 to $100 range. The newer the model and the more features a device has, the more it will cost. Decorative bands, extra chargers, and other accessories are sold separately and also vary in price.
Where can I buy a fitness watch for my kids?
Your best bet is to order through Amazon since they offer competitive pricing and great return policies. Other retailers include most sports and electronics-based stores, such as Costco, Best Buy, Walmart, Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Academy Sports + Outdoors.
It seems the most popular and most functional fitness watch for kids is the Garmin Vivofit Jr 2. It’s by a trusted brand in the technology industry, has partnered with Disney for some uber fun decorative prints and designs, and has features that both kids and parents love. While it’s still possible that your individual child’s needs would be better met by one of the other devices on our list, the Garmin Vivofit Jr 2 is a solid choice for most kids who love activity, adventure, and having fun!
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