Pretty much everyone interested in living a healthier lifestyle wears some type of fitness tracking device these days.
Due to their popularity, a number of different activity trackers for kids have hit the market. Along with a smaller size to fit children’s wrists, they offer a number of other features geared toward kids.
While the options made for kids might sound great, parents have several options to help their children track their activity. Most modern smartphones can track steps, and standard activity trackers might provide a better option for children.
We’ll take a look at some of the pros and cons of each option and highlight some specific trackers.
What Are Kid-Friendly Activity Trackers?
A relatively new option in the world of fitness tracking devices, activity trackers for kids have one huge advantage compared to other options. Since they are specifically for children, the devices fit smaller wrists without any issues.
Some options can fit kids as young as five. But most are made for older children in the 8-12 age range who don’t usually carry a smartphone but still want to track their activity.
Another advantage is that these trackers are usually more rugged than other options. Thus, they can withstand drops, bumps, and most anything else a child goes through on a daily basis. That could help ease the minds of parents who worry about their children damaging electronics.
One big disadvantage should be obvious to any parent: children always have a tendency to lose items. Unlike the Apple Watch or other more expensive trackers, there’s no way to track down the location of a device that disappears.
If you’re looking for a kid-friendly tracker, here are two notable choices.
Garmin Vivofit Jr. 2
The Garmin Vivofit jr 2 is the company’s second generation fitness trackerthat’s back once again to get kids to keep active. Just like Garmin’s trackers for grown-ups (Vivofit 4 or the Vivosport) it covers the basics like counting steps and monitoring sleep. The approach to those features is done a little differently for minds with shorter attention spans.
Garmin aims to gamify the experience and it’s done that in a number of ways. Kids can earn virtual coins for real rewards or progress in an app based game by hitting daily activity goals. But it’s not just about entertainment. Garmin wants parents to benefit from convincing their little ones to wear a Vivofit jr 2. So you’ll have the ability to set reminders to brush those teeth before bed or remember to do those weekly chores.
The Garmin Vivofit Jr. 2 can do much more than just track a child’s daily activity. Parents can use the free iOS or Android companion to view all the vital information and even assign kids tasks and chores on a recurring basis.
You can assign those duties a virtual coin value that kids can redeem for custom rewards selected by kids and parents. For kids who wait until the last second to do anything, parents can also schedule alerts for specific activities like doing homework or brushing teeth.
And the tracker itself is ready to travel with children. Most importantly, even though it sports a customizable color screen, the user-replaceable battery can last for up to a year. That means there’s no need to remember about charging. It’s also swim and shower-friendly.
Parents can select from two types of bands. A stretch version is for kids 4-7 and doesn’t have a buckle. The adjustable band option is for children six and older. Each model has options with Disney, Star Wars, and Marvel characters.
As one of the biggest names in the market, it’s not a surprise that Fitbit also offers its own activity tracker for kids.
Made for kids eight and older, the Fitbit Ace looks similar to the company’s Alta line but with a slimmer form factor. The tracker withstands a shower or other quick water splash, and the battery can provide up to five days of use on a single charge.
The Ace can track steps, active minutes, and even sleep duration. All the information syncs to Fitbit’s smartphone app so both parents and children can view the progress.
To help motivate children, there are a number of rewards and badges to acquire. Kids can also select one of 10 fun clock faces designs that show the date and time, goal progress, and more.
Buyers can select from two different options—a blue or purple band.
FITBIT ACE AGE RANGE
8 is the new minimum age to use Ace, and all other Fitbit trackers remain 13+. While Fitbit has now relaxed its strict 13 age limit for this tracker, it is surely not blind to the fact that many younger children already have Fitbit accounts set up by parents.
Fitbit already has a small army of children using its adult-oriented products. My daughter has been using a Fitbit since she was 7, starting with a Flex and moving to Charge 2, Alta HR and now Ionic – although I think she’ll like the new Fitbit Versa.
Aged 12 she wouldn’t want to move to the Ace but a new user may start with one.
I see no problem with kids using any of the Fitbit activity trackers, and the Ace is maybe going to appeal to younger children.
It’s not a childish design, and the price being £20 cheaper than the otherwise very similar Fitbit Alta is another plus.
The Small-size wristbands on the other Fitbits will fit most kids’ wrists so it’s not the case that the Ace is the only one that will fit smaller people.
Other Kid-Friendly Activity Trackers to Consider
Even with the growing segment of activity trackers for kids, it pales in comparison to the number of options on the general market.
That means there are more options available to find the best tracker that fits your child’s routine in a wider variety of price points. Another plus is that you won’t need to buy a new tracker when a child becomes a teenager, unlike a kid-friendly model that could become too small.
The biggest obstacle to finding an adult tracker that works for a child is obviously finding a band that will fit smaller wrists. But with older children, a smaller adult option usually should work.
Here are great options for children and adults.
Fitbit Flex 2
While there are a number of Fitbit alternatives on the market, the Fitbit Flex 2 offers a number of nice features for an inexpensive price tag.
The thin and small band should fit the wrists of older children. And since the band is swim-proof, you can wear it in the pool, ocean, and other aquatic settings, making it the only Fitbit to offer that distinction. The built-in battery can last for up to five days on a single charge.
Along with the usual fitness tracking features, the band will automatically track sleep and even workouts. The lights on the Flex 2 will show the progress toward a child’s goal. If they have a smartphone, the tracker will also provide call and text notifications.
The Flex 2 offers a number of different band colors.
The Fitbit Flex 2 is a solid choice for those after something simple, as well as those who are in need of a water-resistant tracker. It’s smaller and sleeker than the original, but at the cost of battery life.
- Comfortable and light
- Fun software
- Water resistant
- Battery life not great
- Slow to charge
- Feature-light hardware
Withings Activite Pop
Weighing just 1.3 ounces, the svelte Withings Activite Pop is a nice choice for older children as well. It combines a regular analog watch with an activity tracker that counts steps, distance, calories burned, and even sleep.
The tracker syncs with both an Android or iPhone app, but the watch display will always show kids how close they are to a daily activity goal. Along with being water resistant, there’s no need to worry about charging as the battery can last for up to eight months of normal use. A number of different colors options are available.
- 8-month battery life
- Seamless activity and sleep tracking
- Stunning design
- No background syncing
- App could be more detailed
Activity Tracking With Built-In Smartphone Features
Another option to help track a child’s activity is something many haven’t thought of before: a smartphone. Nearly all modern iPhone and Android devices can automatically track steps taken during the course of a normal day.
There are also a number of simpler and easy-to-understand pedometer apps that can track steps and daily activity. Going this route is perfect for kids who already use a smartphone.
But for younger kids, this isn’t always the best idea. Most parents probably don’t want to give an expensive, fragile phone to younger children. And that’s not even to mention privacy and other issues that come along with using a smartphone.
A Big Step Forward for Fitness Activity in Kids
With childhood obesity continuing to be a big health concern, many parents are looking for a way to help motivate kids to stay healthy in their childhood and beyond. Any fitness tracker, and even a smartphone, can help do just that.