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We love these fitness trackers for kids (and they will too)

We love these fitness trackers for kids (and they will too)

Kids have the kind of energy adults could only dream of having, and they spend their days being active just for the fun of it. You might not think that a kid needs to track and monitor their health and activity, but we still live in a relatively sedentary society, so inspiring motivation to move around is still important to instill at a young age.

Fortunately, there are several fitness trackers for kids that are made specifically with children in mind. This means that they’re not focused on weight loss, but on forming good habits and leading an active lifestyle instead.

If a new fitness tracker for your kid is on your list of intended Prime Day purchases, then read up on what you should know before making a purchase and which models come out on top.

What makes a fitness tracker kid-friendly?

Fitness trackers for kids are simplified versions of those for adults in that they trade out features for motivational games and rewards systems. After all, your kid doesn’t really need an expensive Apple Watch to count their steps and monitor their heart rate when a cheaper (and more durable) option with simpler functionality is more suited to keep them engaged. A kids’ activity tracker is also specially designed to properly fit a child’s wrist.

The best fitness trackers for kids have more kid-friendly designs, with some featuring themes from Star Wars, Frozen, and other Disney favorites. Plus, they often have additional features that make them just as useful for keeping your child on task with homework, chores, and bedtime as they are for monitoring health data. 

What are the benefits of kids using activity trackers?

The terms “activity tracker” and “fitness tracker” are interchangeable when it comes to these kid-friendly devices. But, no matter what you call it, the fact remains that using one at a young age can teach children to be conscious of health early on and can help promote an active lifestyle for years to come. Your kids are far more likely to get excited about moving around or completing chores when doing so unlocks rewards and mini-games.

Within these trackers, you and your kid can set activity goals — fitness or otherwise. Activity trackers teach kids to be physically active, yes, but they also teach responsibility. Many offer parents the opportunity to set daily reminders for their kids to do things like brushing their teeth, completing their homework, reading before bed, or tidying their room. Mundane tasks become a lot more fun when they’re integrated into a model of unlocked games, rewards, and maybe even a little friendly leaderboard competition among siblings, so it’s clear to see why these built-in incentives are a great motivator. Plus, you won’t have to hound your kid to do their chores or go to bed on time when the cool gadget around their wrist bears that burden for you.

Plus, aside from it keeping them motivated to stay active, a fitness tracker can also act as a great “baby step” on your kid’s path to bigger and better tech devices (and the responsibility that comes along with owning them). You’d be hard-pressed to find a kid these days who isn’t begging for a smartphone or tablet of their own by the age of 10, so a kids activity tracker offers a stepping stone to help them feel a bit more independent. It’s also a little bit of flex that they’ll be excited to show off to their friends without simultaneously burning a hole in your pocket. At the same time, you can rest assured that your kid’s activity tracker will keep them a little more connected, but without all the distractions of social media apps and other content that’s not quite appropriate for their age.

Why can’t kids just use an adult fitness tracker?

There are a few key reasons why you wouldn’t want your child to use a , even if it is a cheaper, less connected model. First, in terms of practicality, an adult fitness tracker will likely be too big to fit your child’s wrist, and may have clasps that will make it far more difficult to put on and take off. Ultimately, this will render it pretty useless if it doesn’t fall off of your kid’s wrist and become lost forever first. 

Besides the inconvenience and incompatibility of trying to fit an adult tracker on a child, there are the far more important health-related concerns of giving a child a fitness tracker meant for adults. Nearly every respectable adult activity tracker on the market tracks calories burned, and this is a metric that kids should absolutely not be focusing on. In terms of activity and health, the goal of a kids’ fitness tracker should simply be to move around more, not lose weight or be concerned with how many calories they’ve burned. Ultimately, you want to make physical activity fun for kids so they can make positive behavioral changes and build upon healthy habits throughout their life, not kickstart an unhealthy obsession.

What features should be included in a fitness tracker for kids?

The basic functions of a fitness tracker are likely to remain the same across the board. These include step counting, active minutes, distance traveled, and possibly even a heart rate monitor. But there are a few other features that you’ll likely want the fitness tracker to have, and they can vary from device to device.

First and foremost, a kids activity tracker should be waterproof in some way, shape, or form. Regardless of whether they’re likely to go swimming with it, you still want it to be protected from everyday spills, splashes, weather events, and of course, sweat. A tracker that says it’s “water-resistant” should do just fine in those scenarios. If your child does intend to wear their tracker in the water, however, you should be careful to ensure that it is actually a waterproof tracker (usually up to a depth of 50 meters underwater) and not just water-resistant.

Sleep tracking is another great feature for a kids activity tracker to have. Not only is it key for children to enjoy being more active, a wearable should also present a good opportunity for kids to learn the importance of healthy sleep habits. The activity tracker will likely give you details such as how many hours your child sleeps and whether or not they wake during the night. It’s a feature that’s nice to have, but just keep in mind that your kid might not want to wear their tracker to bed, so the function may go unused. 

And last but not least, you’ll want to consider the battery life of a kids fitness tracker. Some are rechargeable so you’ll need to remember to give ’em some juice every four to seven days, on average. Other fitness trackers are non-rechargeable, operating off of a coin cell battery for up to a year. Often this very inexpensive battery can easily be replaced when it runs out. That said, you’ll want to weigh the benefits and possible inconveniences of having to charge the fitness tracker on a regular basis and decide which option is the best fit for you and your child.

Are fitness trackers safe for kids?

The companies behind the leading kids fitness trackers — Garmin and Fitbit — have both stated that their activity trackers put parents in control of approving any friend requests for fitness-based challenges. Parents can access these things via the corresponding app when the tracker is paired with their smartphone. The location of the wearer is also never shared.

What if my kid doesn’t have a smartphone?

Speaking of smartphones, your child doesn’t need one to use their activity tracker as long as you have one. Fitness trackers for kids let you set up a family account within the app, so you can ultimately have control over settings and permissions. Most of these apps have parent views and kid views, so your child can still feel like they’re in charge of their own health and activity.

A smartphone isn’t necessary to access all the features of an activity tracker as most of the functionality is built right into the device. Phones are just needed for syncing, playing in-app games, and accessing bonus features or any extra content. But the main functions and stats like step tracking, alarms, and other quick-access features are all accessible from your child’s wrist.

What’s the difference between a fitness tracker and a smartwatch?

Over the course of the last decade or so, fitness wearable giants, such as Fitbit, have seemingly agreed upon a certain aesthetic when it comes to designing fitness trackers. They’re often composed of a long, narrow display that blends seamlessly into a thin band around the wrist, kind of like a bracelet with high-tech sensors. These devices can track activity and connect to smartphones while attached to one’s wrist, but they’re not necessarily considered smartwatches. To gain the classification of smartwatch, however, an on-wrist tracker needs to have far more functionality, with built-in apps and connectivity to GPS and sometimes cellular data, too. 

When this translates to the world of kids’ activity trackers, most are styled just like a traditional adult fitness tracker, i.e. a simple, skinny band with a small screen. However, some brands have begun to develop kid-focused trackers with a look more akin to a smartwatch, but without all the added connectivity and unnecessary options that might overwhelm a kid. Simply put, this style of kids activity tracker is a smartwatch in name and design only, and not so much in functionality. It is nice, however, to offer kids a little more variety in how they want their cool new accessory to look. Plus, GPS tracking can also offer parents some peace of mind in case of emergency, just as long as that information is only available to you on the app and not shared publicly.

With that in mind, here are our top picks for the best fitness trackers for kids.

Waterproof • Sleep tracking • Industry-leading fitness tracking • Wristbands are durable and easily replaceable

Switching between Parent View and Kid View can be a pain • A phone is needed for challenges and viewing progress over time

The Fitbit Ace 3 is an impressive tracker, but it might be a bit of a hassle if your kid doesn’t have a phone.

Fitbit Ace 3

Fitbit’s industry-leading fitness tracking is available to kids in this motivating tracker.

  • Battery life:
    Up to eight days
  • Sleep tracking:
  • Water resistance:
    Waterproof up to 50 meters

With motivating challenges, activity tracking, and animated clock faces, the Fitbit Ace 3 is made for keeping kids interested in an active lifestyle.  If you already use a Fitbit yourself, you know that the trackers are intuitive and the app interface is super clean. You can sync it to your app if your kid doesn’t have a smartphone, though switching between Parent View and Kid View can be kind of a pain. Within the app, kids can challenge their friends to step competitions and send messages. You can set goals, reminders, and more on the tracker and kids get rewarded with virtual badges and on-screen celebrations when they hit goals.

Fun Disney themes • Sleep tracking • Fitness coach built in • Easy to add multiple users to the app • Doesn’t have to be charged

Only Disney themed, no generic interface

The Garmin Vívofit Jr. 2 is an exceptional activity tracker, as long as your kid is a Disney fan.

Garmin Vívofit Jr. 2

Games, rewards, and Disney help this tracker motivate kids.

  • Battery life:
    Non-rechargeable, up to one year
  • Sleep tracking:
  • Water resistance:
    Waterproof up to 50 meters

Kids will actually enjoy doing homework and chores and getting their daily steps in when doing so unlocks games, activities, and rewards from their favorite Disney character. That’s what happens with the Garmin Vívofit Jr. 2 fitness tracker.
The activity tracker comes in different character designs from favorites like Frozen and Star Wars. As a parent, you can use the app to manage your kid’s chores and give them rewards when they finish tasks. Alerts and task timers will have your kid staying on top of their homework and other responsibilities. 
As far as fitness tracking, the Vívofit Jr. 2 counts steps, monitors sleep patterns, and provides physical activities to follow along with. These are pretty basic like jumping jacks, downward dog, and mountain climbers — your kid won’t be going through baby bootcamp. Within the Garmin Connect app, the whole family can sync up your Garmin fitness trackers to interact and compete in challenges.

Advanced fitness tracking • Waterproof • 15+ programmed exercises

Not suitable for young kids • Won’t fit tiny wrists

The Charge 3 allows older kids who are more serious about fitness tracking accurately monitor their health.

Fitbit Charge 3

Pre-teens can skip the kiddie games and designs with the Charge 3.

  • Battery life:
    Up to seven days
  • Sleep tracking:
  • Water resistance:
    Waterproof up to 50 meters
Older kids don’t necessarily need incentives, rewards, and games to want to be active and track their fitness. And they don’t need extra-small wrist bands either. Fitbit’s Charge 3 is a great fitness tracker for late elementary and middle school aged kids (and older).
It’s one of Fitbit’s top trackers, and for good reason. This watch has virtually everything you’d want in a fitness tracker. It has 24/7 heart rate monitoring, step counting, sleep tracking, and a swimproof design. It’s pre-programmed with more than 15 goal-based exercises like running, biking, and swimming — it’s more advanced than trackers designed specifically for kids and allows your child to track even more aspects of their fitness life. It even has menstrual cycle tracking if your kid’s getting to that age.
For kids with smartphones, the Charge 3 integrates notifications and a few apps. But it’s not a full-blown smartwatch chock full of distractions.

Two band colors • Affordable • Easy charging

Limited fitness tracking • Basic features

While it probably won’t wow you with features, this has all the basics you need in a fitness tracker.

Biggerfive fitness tracker watch

With simple features, this is a nice option without breaking the bank.

  • Battery life:
    Up to seven days
  • Sleep tracking:
  • Water resistance:
    Waterproof up to 1 meter
For less than $25, this fitness tracker from Biggerfive is actually pretty impressive. It counts steps, calories, and mileage, fitting kids ages 5 and up. Each tracker comes with two different colored bands, and there are three combos to choose from.
Kids will be more excited to get up in the morning with silent vibrating alarms and sleep tracking data. This tracker is pretty basic and doesn’t feature rewards systems, games, task reminders, or other bonus features like that. It’s a good choice if you just want simple fitness tracking.
The activity tracker is easy to charge as it has a USB built right in, meaning you don’t need any extra cords — just plug it right in to a charging brick. Because of the price, you can’t really expect the same features and durability as some of the name brand options, but this is a nice starter and budget option.

No charging • Emergency contact • Tracks distance traveled

Battery will need replacing

The Garmin Vívofit Jr. 3 is a fun and fitness-focused option for kids who prefer a tracker that looks more like a smartwatch.

Garmin Vívofit Jr. 3

Fun activities and motivating rewards keep kids engaged in this smartwatch-style tracker.

  • Battery life:
    Non-rechargeable, up to one year
  • Sleep tracking:
  • Water resistance:
    Waterproof up to 50 meters

The functions of the Garmin Vívofit Jr. 3 are nearly identical to its predecessor, but its look is more along the lines of a smartwatch thanks to its larger, square-shaped screen. It can also display a wider range of colors — 64, as opposed to just eight on the Vívofit Jr. 2 — for a more impressive visual experience and multiple watch face options.
The swim-friendly Jr. 3 offers a selection of adjustable silicone bands in your choice of bright colors or characters, including Disney princesses and Marvel superheroes. As kids get in their daily steps, they’ll unlock entertaining adventures and games that correspond to their watchband which can then be accessed via app on a paired smartphone. Parents can also use the app to assign tasks, schedule alerts, and give their child an opportunity to earn rewards when they meet goals, like finishing homework or doing chores.
As a fitness tracker, the Vívofit Jr. 3 counts steps and distance, monitors sleep patterns, and offers timed activities to track movement during playtime or sports practice. It also has an ICE widget to store contact information in case of emergency, and while the single coin cell battery can’t be charged, it is replaceable.

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