Our latest revisit to this page saw a few changes to both the guide and the chart – with two new additions. These comprised the upgraded Fitbit Ace 2 and the popular LeapFrog LeapBand.
Fitness trackers are a key part of twenty-first century fitness, whether you are a runner, cyclist, swimmer… or even a kid!
That’s right, there’s a market full of great fitness trackers designed solely for children – and in this article we will help you choose the best one for your child.
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There are many reasons why you may want to buy a wearable fitness tracker for your youngster. However, encouraging them to move more is likely to be the prime intention – it’s no secret that things are a lot more sedentary than back when we were growing up.
Plus, let’s face it, having their own fitness tracker means they won’t have to play with your $500 Garmin running watch!
Of course, when it comes to topics surrounding the health and wellbeing of a child, there is plenty of debate, with arguments both for and against fitness trackers for kids. We will cover these concerns in the guide and FAQ section.
But first, check out our chart below, highlighting five of the best fitness trackers for kids, along with mini reviews, pros and cons for each.
While a far cry from some of Garmin’s high-end fitness trackers for professional athletes, the vívofit Jr 2 is an excellent choice for both kids and parents!
The brand has teamed up with Disney to bring a handful of brightly-colored watches featuring characters from your kids’ favorite movies – Frozen, Star Wars and Spiderman, among others. But these watches are more than just a cool design.
Your child can enjoy features like daily step and sleep estimates, while they can also enjoy using it in the pool. The bonus is that it includes a solid parent-controlled app that can encourage kids to perform activity, homework and chores, with the lure of digital coins that can be traded in for real life rewards (depending on your generosity!).
Battery life: Up to 5 days
Age: 6+ years
Sleep Tracking: Yes
Waterproof: Yes (5ATM)
GPS: Multiple color choices, raised bumper around face, activity and step tracking, bedtime reminders, companion app, call notifications
Fitbit is a brand that knows how to make a good fitness tracker in every price category – and the affordable Ace 2 is proof that they can adeptly turn their hand to kids watches too.
Available in a range of delicious colors, including watermelon and grape, the Ace 2 tracks both steps and general activity minutes. This means you kid’s movement is recorded, whether they are running, skipping or dancing around (in the fitness world, it all counts!).
It will also track their sleep when they are all tuckered out, with built-in bedtime reminders. This device is also built to survive swimming and features a decent battery life up to five days. There’s plenty of motivation with this watch too, as it also offers up incentives and celebrations when goals are reached.
Battery life: Up to 5 days
Age: 4 to 7 years
Sleep Tracking: No
GPS: Multiple color choices, analog and digital watch, hi-res screen, 50 active challenges, customizable virtual pets, companion app
The LeapBand from LeapFrog is another popular fitness tracker that will help keep your little ones both active and entertained, at a price that parents will appreciate.
This rather bulky watch is certainly aimed at younger kids, with a colorful design, vibrant screen and fun animal avatars. As for activity, the LeapBand includes 50 challenges to encourage more day-to-day movement – from hopping like a kangaroo to wiggling like a worm – with on-device rewards for hitting activity targets.
In addition, the watch includes fun games for downtime, such as a range of customizable virtual pets. The LeapBand also connects with the ‘Petathlon Games’ companion app, to extend the fun to bigger screens with additional games (providing you have a compatible Apple device).
Battery life: Unspecified
Age: 4+ years
Sleep Tracking: No
GPS: Multiple color choices, step tracker, motion sensor, built-in Monster Detector game, two cameras, 55 digital and analog watch faces, downloadable content
The Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2 from VTech is another popular device for kids, albeit with more of a focus on entertainment than fitness. However, there is enough in the way of activity tracking to justify its inclusion.
This watch – available in several vibrant colors including pink, blue and camouflage – is fitted with a step tracker and a motion sensor to encourage active play. It also helps kids learn how to tell the time, with more than 50 watch faces to choose from.
Fun features include two cameras for taking both regular pictures and selfies, as well as capturing video of up to one minute. While it’s not waterproof, it will survive a few splashes – perfect for active kids who like to get in a mess!
Battery life: Up to 5 days
Age: 8+ years
Sleep Tracking: Yes
Waterproof: Yes (Shower)
GPS: Two color choices, OLED screen, activity and step tracking, companion app, call notifications
While the Ace 2 is ideal for younger kids, the original Fitbit Ace is still a worthwhile consideration – aimed at slightly older children, with a more grown-up design.
The simple fitness features stand up to scrutiny here, with step tracking and activity minutes both delivered clearly, with motivational rewards and badges given for reaching set targets. Then, at the end of the day, sleep tracking kicks in so you can see how much shuteye your youngsters are actually getting.
While the display is quite basic and a little limited, the Ace syncs to a parent-controlled app for a more detailed breakdown of your child’s activity data. This isn’t as impressive as Garmin’s reward app, but allows you to set challenges, which can prove surprisingly addictive!
In sepia-tinted years gone by, kids would run around and play outside for hours, regardless of the weather or time of year. Chances are, you were one of these kids!
However, since the rise of television, smartphones, tablets, video games and the internet, twenty-first century kids are generally less active. While technology may be to blame for a lot of this inactivity, it could also be the way to get your children motivated – enter, the fitness tracker!
Fitness trackers for kids are becoming more and more popular, with children enjoying something different from sitting slouched in front of the TV, and parents enjoying less hyperactive kids.
While our chart above has outlined some of the most popular activity trackers for children, how do you know what is best for your kid?
The following guide will hopefully answer some of your questions about the design, build and features, all combining to make a suitable device.
If you have a smartwatch of your own, you may notice that the style of your fitness tracker designed for running and devices designed for kids are very different! Ultimately, as an adult, you aren’t going to want a big colorful plastic device strapped to your wrist (unless you are particularly in touch with your inner child!).
Kids, on the other hand, tend to love colorful and exciting designs, and manufacturers are well aware of this.
You can expect to see watches with snazzy colors, as well as those with branded designs – such as Garmin’s series of Disney watches, which include Frozen, Star Wars, Captain America and Spiderman themes among others.
Aside from the aesthetics, the screen size and quality are a mixed bag in this market. Some kids’ devices offer big touchscreens with colorful graphics and avatars, while other screens are the size of a peanut with a greyscale display. A browse of the market will offer you something suitable for your child and their age.
The build quality is also important, considering the target audience. While we love them, kids are typically energetic, messy and accident prone. Unless the watch is built to survive a few bumps and scrapes, it’s probably not a device worth having.
Again, the device build quality will differ depending on the manufacturer and price range. If you are unsure, checking out user reviews on marketplaces will give you all the information you need. If it’s prone to falling apart after a few days, you can guarantee other parents will be writing about this!
Like any fitness tracker, the battery life on one designed for children is important, although – like one designed for adults – the exact life will differ from device to device.
As you’d expect, the longer the battery the better the experience. Ultimately, having a device you have to charge every day is going to be frustrating for you and your child, who would rather be wearing it than having it sit connected to a charger.
Luckily, many devices last at least a few days, with around five days of juice being the average in the kids’ range.
Of course, you can find some that last a lot longer – up to a year in some rare cases – although expect these devices to have much less in the way of features and on-screen graphics.
As you can’t always rely on a child to remember to take their watch off before they go near water, it’s important to consider whether or not the device will stand up to moisture – either a little splash of rain or a full hour in the swimming pool.
Most fitness trackers for kids can withstand water to some degree, even budget devices. This is useful for day-to-day use, although if your child is an avid swimmer you have to use more caution.
For swimming, you will want a watch with a water-resistance rating of at least IP68 or – even better – 5ATM. These usually mean that swimming will be safe. However, each device will differ, so check what the manufacturer specifies. This information can be found on the marketplace or the manufacturer’s website.
If in doubt, err on the side of caution and encourage your child to take the watch off before swimming. Many don’t track swimming anyway, so wearing them in the pool won’t be much benefit. Which brings us onto our next section…
If you are hoping that a child’s fitness watch will track activities in the same way as even a good midrange fitness tracker, then you will be disappointed. Compared to devices built for adults, children’s fitness trackers are pretty basic in their offering – quite understandable when you consider how cheap many of them are.
However, you can usually expect a good degree of accuracy and some variation in activity tracking. For example, every device should feature a decent step tracker. This function will count how many steps your child takes in a day, which will give you a good indication of whether or not they are moving enough.
Perhaps more importantly for a child – who probably does more jumping around than formal walking – is the general activity tracker. This will track how long your child is actually moving for, whether jumping, skipping, spinning, climbing or rolling around.
According to the World Health Organization, children over the age of five are advised to have at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. To encourage kids to reach and exceed this target, many devices will offer incentives to be more active.
This may be in the form of fun graphics popping up on the screen of the device when a target has been reached, or even ‘payments’ of virtual money via an app. You can set what each ‘coin’ translates to in the real world. See below for examples.
Finally, while not the most lively of activities, some devices will also track sleeping. Providing your child wears the tracker through the night, the device will record their sleeping patterns, allowing you to see whether they are actually getting quality sleep, or are secretly up in the middle of the night watching TV!
Some data from step, activity and sleep tracking features will appear on the watch screen, although – due to the generally small screen sizes – you will usually find more detail on the companion apps (see below).
In addition to activity tracking, which will appeal more to parents, many fitness trackers for children will include a few extras that make them as much fun for the child.
As obvious as it sounds, games are a big part of a child’s life, which is why many fitness trackers include built-in games. This may be something quite simple (such as a virtual pet) or more dynamic – like the Monster Detector game on Vtech’s Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2.
Other devices on the market actually offer things like built-in cameras, allowing your child to record both still images and video directly from the watch!
You will also find some common functions, such as the time, an alarm clock and possibly call notifications – where calls from your child’s smartphone (if they have one) appear on the device.
Regardless of the brand, a good device shouldn’t stop with what is worn around the wrist – as a parent you will want more insight and control, which is where companion apps come in.
The extensiveness and quality these smartphone apps will differ from brand to brand, although they will usually allow you as the parent to view your child’s activity (from steps to sleeping) in more depth. Many will also give you the power to set activity targets, reminders and challenges, among other things.
A good example is Garmin’s app, which offers a lot of control and functionality. In addition to being able to view data and set activity targets, it has a great function for setting and rewarding tasks, chores and homework.
So, you could set your child the task of an hour’s homework and taking the trash out, which – if completed successfully – will reward them with some virtual coins. Your child can collect these in-app coins and then redeem them for real-life rewards determined by you – whether a cookie, more TV time or an upgraded allowance.
The result can be a more willing and productive child, all without you having to waste your breath asking them to move their butts for the tenth time that afternoon. Talk about modern parenting!
Compared to devices meant for adults, the choice of fitness trackers made specifically for children is more limited. Still, there is still no reason to settle for mediocre – so what is the best fitness tracker for your child?
If you want a few suggestions, the chart on this page offers some of the most popular models around from trusted brands like Garmin and Fitbit. However, no child is the same and what may work best for my kid, may not work best for yours.
Instead, you should take a look at some of the factors we highlight in the guide above to see what fits your child the best – in particular, battery life, water resistance, games, build and functionality.
For example, are they a keen swimmer? While many kids’ fitness trackers don’t actually have built-in swim tracking, they will still register activity in the pool – providing the device is fully waterproof! So, if they do visit the pool regularly – or even enjoy paddling in a home pool – then an ample waterproof rating is essential.
If your child gets bored easily (and whose doesn’t!), a watch that includes some fun games in addition to activity tracking could be what makes or breaks the experience. If they are having fun hunting monsters or playing with a virtual pet, they are more likely to engage with the watch than if it simply shows a step count.
Our guide offers more information on what to look out for. If you can, sit down with your child and browse these trackers together – they are more likely to end up with something they actually want, while you don’t end up with a waste of money!
Great question! While nobody would give a second thought to an adult buying themselves a fitness-focused smartwatch, some people do question whether an activity tracker is suitable for children.
As you may expect, there are two sides to the argument, both worth hearing before you jump in and make a purchase.
On the plus side, fitness trackers are naturally a great way to measure a child’s activity levels. If your child is on the sedentary side – as many are these days – keeping them motivated to be active can only be beneficial to their health.
Besides the health benefits, tracking steps and activity can actually be great fun. You can set realistic challenges, and your child can enjoy attempting to reach them and break previous records. Some companion apps actually allow you to have family competitions, with everyone competing against each other to break certain daily activity challenges. A little family competition never hurt anyone!
Of course, there are also some arguments against a child’s need for a fitness tracker, which are equally important to listen to.
These mainly center around the fact that activity should primarily be a spontaneous, fun and tech-free experience. Climbing, running, jumping around and enjoying the moment, not focusing on what a screen tells them is happening.
As obvious as it sounds, you would also never want your child becoming obsessed with their step count or activity minutes, and certainly not with their health and weight. That’s your job – your child’s focus should solely be on enjoying the experience.
Ultimately, fitness trackers for kids can be well worth it, especially if your child does need to get up and outside more than they currently do.
Before you buy a new device, perhaps first look at non-tech methods of encouraging more activity. This could be something big and fun like visiting a water park or assault course, or as simple as setting up a scavenger hunt in the back garden.
It’s pretty common knowledge that adults should aim to take 10,000 steps every day, which is a realistic target – and a helpful one if you currently don’t get enough exercise. But how many steps should a child take every day?
This 10,000-step figure is actually seen as too few for children. It is generally agreed that, for children aged between six and 12, girls should take 12,000 daily steps while boys should take 15,000.
The actual intensity of this activity is important too. As mentioned in the article above, the World Health Organization specifies that children should be engaged in at least 60 minutes of ‘moderate to vigorous’ exercise every day.
Of course, a fitness tracker is one of the easiest ways to see how many steps your child takes in a day – including their walk to school, during soccer practice and movement around the house.
You may be surprised to find out how few steps the average child actually takes these days! Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to encourage your child to be more active, as we are about to discuss…
When it comes to exercise, adults can be surprisingly easy to motivate – just a few seconds on the bathroom scales or a glimpse in the mirror is enough for some people.
But children are a little harder to motivate, especially when the lure of technology is so strong. Who wants to go outside and run around when you have instant video streaming and downloadable games on tap?
As parents, it’s up to you to help encourage your child to move. Thankfully, there are plenty of ideas to get them off the sofa and onto their feet.
Buy them a fitness tracker. While our previous answer highlighted the importance of being mindful about when you should use a fitness tracker, they are generally great for getting your kid up and about. Setting challenges, giving rewards and encouraging daily activity has never been easier!
Start walking together as a family. Whether it’s a crowd of ten family members, or just you and your child, a daily or weekly walk together can be excellent way to boost the fitness tracker step count, while enjoying some fresh air. The park, a nature trail, the beach – there are many locations all waiting to be explored. Don’t forget the dog!
Ask them what they want to do. You may be surprised at their response. They may want to do something as simple as walking, swimming or going to the playground, or slightly more extravagant – such as going to a water park, rock climbing, canoeing, or trampolining. While it may cost a little money, it’s worth the occasional investment – this is all exercise hidden as fun!
Sign them up for a race. We aren’t talking a full marathon here, but there should be plenty of fun runs, obstacle races and charity events for kids in your area. Perhaps use these as an opportunity to raise some money for a good cause and help your child feel good about themselves. Just don’t sign them up without checking whether they actually want to be involved first!
Whatever your reason for wanting a fitness tracker for your kid, we hope our chart and guide have given you some food for thought.
The choice of devices built specifically for children may not be as extensive as those made for adults, yet there is certainly enough choice to warrant shopping around.
Take your time and select something right for your youngster. Unless it’s a surprise gift, be sure to ask them what kind of thing they want – it may remove quite a bit of guesswork. Good luck!