Smart watch-style device. Motion sensor for active play challenges. Pedometer. Two cameras for video and selfies. Comes with 55 digital and analog clock faces. The monster detector game encourages activity. Splash-proof. Rechargeable battery.
Screen develops dead pixels and breaks relatively easily.
Swim-friendly design that tracks steps, sleep, and minutes of activity. Rugged design holds up well in sports and outdoor play. Easy to wear. Bands for older children are adjustable, whereas those for younger ones slip on like bracelets.
Screen is a bit dark to read. Syncing can be time-consuming, which drains battery.
Offers all-day tracking, including sleep habits, bedtime reminders, and alarms. Lets children earn virtual badges when activity goals are achieved. Band is made with soft, flexible silicone that is easy to keep clean. Extended battery life (up to 8 days). Water resistant.
A few people felt it was unusually bulky compared to other models. A bit pricey.
Suitable for ages 4 to 9. Polymer case with silicone strap is durable and easy to sanitize. Battery only requires replacement about once per year. Icons and notifications are easy to understand. Watch is comfortable to wear.
Dead pixels develop on the screen. Difficulty syncing with the parent app.
Fully adjustable, so your children can continue to use it as they grow older. Serves measurements on heart rate, calorie-burning, oxygen levels, sleep, step count, and sleep. Users can track 14 types of exercise modes. Available in multiple colors, including blue, red, pink, and more.
App can only connect to 1 device, which can be a hassle.
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Statistics show that childhood obesity levels are at an all-time high, and many pediatricians are encouraging children to get moving. But when you’re away at work or making dinner while your child plays, it’s hard to know how much exercise they’re getting. A kids’ fitness tracker can help.
Many companies known for making fitness trackers for adults are starting to introduce models made specifically for children. These devices track steps and active minutes the way that adult models do, but they also use challenges and rewards to help keep kids motivated to move.
Which fitness tracker is right for your child? We’ve compiled this guide and several of our top picks to help you decide.
Before you start shopping, think about the child who will use this device. Not all fitness trackers are the same, and getting the right one can make all the difference in a child’s health.
Just because a fitness tracker is labeled for kids doesn’t mean it will appeal to every child. Trackers intended for preschoolers vary greatly from ones that appeal to tweens.
Preschoolers: If you’re shopping for a younger child, look for trackers that have bright colors, smiling characters, and music to grab a child’s attention. Most preschoolers can’t read, so many of these trackers feature a large screen with limited text. Simple games are often used to reward children who meet activity goals.
Elementary school: Elementary-age children may shy away from brightly colored trackers in favor of models that feature favorite television or movie characters. Some trackers for this age group include chore alerts and schedule reminders, which can help children build good habits. Many of these trackers also include games to motivate kids to meet activity goals.
Middle school: Fitness trackers for older children may resemble basic trackers designed for adults. These usually collect more data, so they’re more helpful for children training for sports. These trackers usually lack the games and rewards included on trackers for younger children. They may also lack the ability to connect to other users, making them safer for children than adult trackers. Instead, these trackers are controlled from a parent’s phone.
Most kids’ fitness trackers are powered by rechargeable batteries or batteries with an extended life. The style you choose may depend on your child’s age and what you want the tracker for. Younger children may have more success with a device that has a long battery life. Older children are more likely to remember to charge a tracker or ask you to charge it.
Fitness modes: Depending on the intended age of the user, modes can vary greatly. Trackers for the youngest children may skip mileage and step counts in favor of instructions that tell kids to “hop like a bunny” to rack up active minutes. Trackers for older kids may log steps, active minutes, mileage, or all. Make sure the tracker you purchase records the data necessary for your child, especially if you’re buying it for sports training.
Games: Most fitness trackers for younger children come with games that help motivate them to move. Trackers for preschoolers may include simple animals or avatars, while trackers for older kids can feature games that coordinate with the device’s theme or design. If you’re counting on the game for motivation, make sure the reward will appeal to your child. Additionally, if the fitness goal is programmable, set it at an attainable level. That way, your child will enjoy the game more often, which can motivate him or her to try harder.
Water resistance: Some kids’ fitness trackers offer little or no water protection, and some are water resistant for splashing, rain, and bathing. Only a handful are considered swim-proof. Be realistic about how likely your child is to remember to take off the tracker before bathing. A cheaper model that isn’t waterproof may cost more in the long run if you have to replace it periodically. Water resistance typically comes with a higher price tag, so consider your child’s fitness needs and habits before purchasing.
Notifications: Fitness trackers for elementary age and older children may support alerts to remind kids to brush their teeth, do their homework, and complete chores. This can eliminate some of the nagging and power struggles that often come with doing chores. It can also teach children to take charge of their responsibilities without face-to-face reminders from parents.
Other trackers allow you to schedule alarms and calendar notifications for your child. This can be helpful for waking your child in time for school or prodding your child to prepare for evening practice.
Sleep tracking: Like adult fitness trackers, some kids’ models include the ability to track sleep. This tool can be useful for determining the number of hours of sleep your child is getting. If your child isn’t getting enough shut-eye, you can use the data to figure out sleep patterns and find what might be disturbing your child’s rest. If you want a model with sleep tracking, choose one that can charge quickly between school and bedtime.
Prices for kids’ fitness trackers vary greatly, from about $30 to over $100, depending mostly on functionality.
Generally, the least expensive fitness trackers cost $30 to $40, and most are intended for younger children. These typically track minutes of activity and offer game-based rewards for meeting activity goals. Few in this price range are waterproof.
These fitness trackers cost between $40 and $60. You can find offerings for both preschoolers and elementary age children in this tier. These trackers offer more sophisticated games and incentives and track steps as well as active minutes. Some have notifications, and many are water resistant.
The priciest kid's fitness trackers cost up to $100 and more. At this price, many offer the same features as you’ll find in basic adult fitness trackers, although they’re smaller in size. These trackers may also limit a child’s ability to communicate with other users and require an adult to control the tracker from a parent account.
Choose a tracker with your child’s favorite theme. Inactive children who are reluctant to wear a fitness tracker might be more motivated if the tracker features their favorite character, theme, or color.
Discuss rules and safety guidelines with your child. This is very important if the model you choose allows your child to contact other users.
Though they didn’t make our shortlist, there are other fitness trackers on the market that caught our attention. We can’t help but love the Kid Power Band from UNICEF. It’s not very advanced – it only tracks steps and minutes – but the more active your child, the more donations UNICEF makes to undernourished children all over the globe. Higher activity levels also let kids unlock missions to learn more about the cultures that receive the donations. The Kid Power Band is water resistant and offers clock functionality. We wish the clasp – and the device itself – were higher in quality, but the lessons it teaches are substantial. The Kurio Smart Watch 2.0+ tracks activity and does much, much more. The device is outfitted with an accelerometer that allows kids to play motion-based games. Kurio offers Bluetooth functionality, lets kids take selfies and videos, and includes games, calendar, and emergency contacts. It only communicates with Android phones, though, and has connectivity limitations in general. We also wish it was more durable.
Q. How can I get my kids to be more active?
A. Most children can be coaxed into activity if it’s fun or involves a social component. Invite them to race you around the block, ride bikes, or play catch with a football or baseball. Additionally, your kids might enjoy playing in a soccer or basketball league with their friends and devote extra time at home to practicing skills. Some video gaming systems offer active game options to keep your kids off the couch when it’s not practical to play outside.
Q. How much physical activity does my child need?
A. It can be hard to tell how much activity your child gets because children are often active in spurts. This is one reason fitness trackers can be so helpful. Experts recommend that children and adolescents ages 6 to 17 should get 60 minutes or more of physical activity every day. The majority of this activity should be moderate or vigorous in intensity and include muscle-strengthening activities like climbing and throwing and aerobic activities like jumping and running. There are no defined guidelines for children younger than 6 years old, but generally, children ages 2 to 5 should be active several times per day.
Q. How can I tell if my child is getting enough sleep?
A. It can be hard to tell without a fitness tracker. A child may have difficulty falling asleep or play video games or read without your knowledge after being sent to bed. Additionally, you might not know if your child gets up in the middle of the night. They might not even recall getting up. This is one of the benefits of devices with sleep tracking. The trackers aren’t extremely precise, but they give you a general idea of when your child’s activity drops off, when your child rises in the morning, and whether your child gets out of bed at night. This data can be helpful if you decide to talk to a doctor about sleep issues. Every child’s needs are different, but preschoolers generally should get 10 to 13 hours of sleep; schoolchildren up to age 13 should get 9 to 11 hours; and teenagers need about 8 to 10 hours.
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