Tech

The top picks for 2020

These wearables can track location, send daily reminders, or provide games to play during a painful car ride.

Best for sports

Fitbit Ace 2

More independent than most kid watches but more fun than an adult Fitbit, the Ace 2 is a cool companion for kids who have a smartphone.

The percentage of kids who have a smartphone grows by the year, and this trend is seemingly only going in one direction. Kids start begging for their own phone as soon as they can talk (or at least it probably feels that way to parents who are always handing their phone over to keep a kid busy). 

In some ways, your child having a phone on them at all times can alleviate some serious worries about location and communication, but worries about internet safety, cyberbullying, and screen time might outnumber the reasons for a young child to have a phone of their own (even though parental control software exists for this exact purpose).

Enter: smartwatches for kids. These connected wearables let parents stay in touch with kids while they’re away from home, and most are equipped with GPS to keep tabs on a kid’s whereabouts without having to send a panicked message. Unlike smartwatches for adults, kids’ smartwatches don’t promote social media sharing and usually don’t have the option to get on the internet at all.

For kids, the freedom that comes with having their very own connected device — and potentially more leniency when it comes to doing things unsupervised — is pretty priceless. The fact that they can flex their Apple Watch-like bling around their friends is an obvious bonus.

Some kid watches are also great tools for establishing a housework, homework, or bedtime routine. Parents can use the app to set daily reminders like “brush teeth for two minutes” or “read for 15 minutes before bedtime,” then sprinkle in some leverage by typing in a reward. Kids can cross stuff off the list with the help of a built-in stopwatch or by setting their own alarms. 

Activities that are typically mundane are suddenly a lot more fun when an animated celebration, badges, or sibling leaderboard competition are involved (and when a parent isn’t doing the nagging). When healthy habits are established early, they can carry over into adulthood (when deep-rooted bad habits are typically harder to kick).

What to look for in a smartwatch for a kid

GPS will be the biggest deciding factor for parents looking into smartwatches specifically to keep track of kids with busy schedules. True smartwatches act more like a phone in the sense that parents have a live tab of a kid’s location and the ability to text and call. Wearables focused more on fitness tracking (like the Fitbit Ace 2) may skip location services altogether, as well as the option for any two-way communication. Don’t feel like messing with an app at all? There are standalone smartwatches that are ready to go without any invested setup.

Watches focused on physical activity do have their advantages, though. Parents worried about screen time will appreciate the way that smart fitness trackers are not only a less web-based device than a smartphone, but that they actually encourage kids to get up and moving. Kids can check their step count for the day or get a reminder to stand up for a few minutes, but the most fun part is easily the on-screen celebration when a daily activity or sleep goal is met. Settings can be tweaked in the parent app, but having a kid set their own alarms or follow their own activity rules could be a great way to assume some responsibility.

A smartwatch might be replacing the need for a whole phone or tablet, but that doesn’t mean entertainment is completely off the table. Some watches geared towards younger children have games including number challenges and augmented reality mysteries. For such a small screen, the resolution is surprisingly clear and more than enough to keep kids busy in line at the shops, in the waiting room, or in the car.

Things will go a lot smoother when your kid is in on the plan. If you do end up opting for a watch with location tracking or GPS boundaries, letting them know that you can see their location can foster mutual respect — even if that respect is unspoken and initially met with opposition.

These are the best smartwatches for kids in 2020.


Easy to add multiple kids (and parents) to the app • Can last a year without charging • Customizable coin reward system • Disney-themed bands

Specific colours must to be paired with a character • No GPS tracking • No way to communicate with your kid

Garmin’s take on kid tech is simple enough for little ones and uses interactive adventures as incentives.

Garmin Vivofit Jr. 2

Kids will actually want to assume some responsibility with this coin-based, Disney-themed reward system.

  • GPS:
    No
  • Battery life:
    Non-rechargeable, but up to one year
  • Sleep tracking:
    Yes
  • Water resistance:
    Waterproof up to 164 feet
  • Communication features:
    None
Most kid smartwatches have some kind of celebration for reaching goals, and it’s always more fun for a device to nag about a task than your parents. 
Garmin has partnered with Disney to add some extra motivation magic to its reward system: Frozen II, Star Wars, Spider-Man, and Mickey and Minnie are available not only as band decor, but as the theme for an interactive Disney adventure. 
Parents can assign tasks for each child like housework or homework, then allot a certain number of coins to each task. The Vivofit sends reminders throughout the day — though kids will probably be too psyched on the rewards to require a heads up. Once a task (or daily 60-minute activity goal) is completed, kids unlock a prize specified by the parents as well as an animated chapter of their Disney story on the app.
Customisable watch faces, timers, and more are all easily accessible with a few presses of the button. Large letters and simple animations make it intuitive enough for kids as young as four to grasp. Parents can even add themselves to the kid account to rev up the competition in the step count leaderboard. 

Front and back camera • Storage to save memories • Great kids content • 55 watch faces for learning to tell time

No GPS tracking • No daily task settings

Younger kids will have loads of fun with multiple games and two cameras, plus a battery that rarely requires charging.

VTech KidiZoom DX2

The kid-proof watch to choose if your goal is fun and learning rather than daily routines and keeping in touch.

  • GPS:
    No
  • Battery life:
    Up to two weeks
  • Sleep tracking:
    No
  • Water resistance:
    Splash-proof, but shouldn’t be submerged
  • Communication features:
    None
The fact that Fitbit and Garmin have carved out a space in the kid wearable market was expected, but what may surprise you is how VTech managed to give both big names a run for their money by honing in on the stuff kids really want: games and videos.
If the smartwatch for your child is meant to be a true source of entertainment — as in something that’ll keep them busy enough to stop asking for an iPad — the VTech Kidizoom DX2 will be your kid’s new favourite toy. 
He or she can use the touchscreen to swipe through over 50 analog and digital watch faces and silly selfie filters, take videos, or play one of the five games (including an augmented reality monster hunt that encourages problem solving and getting up and moving). The 256MB storage can hold 1,600 photos or 11 one-minute videos.
Both the screen resolution and dual camera resolutions have been majorly improved since the original Kidizoom watch. The actual watch unit has also been de-clunkified compared to the last version and makes for more aerobic movement of little arms.
Physical activity and daily responsibilities aren’t the focus here, but the Kidizoom does have a motion-sensing pedometer. 

Swim and stain-proof • Wristbands are durable and easily replaceable • Switches to an adult account at age 13

No GPS tracking • No two-way communication • Switching between Parent View and Kid View is a pain

The Fitbit Ace 2 grows with kids as they become independent and more interested in fitness progress.

Fitbit Ace 2

More independent than most kid watches but more fun than an adult Fitbit, the Ace 2 is a cool companion for kids who have a smartphone.

  • GPS:
    No
  • Battery life:
    Up to five days
  • Sleep tracking:
    Yes
  • Water resistance:
    Waterproof up to 164 feet
  • Communication features:
    Call and text notifications
When a smartphone enters the mix, the Fitbit Ace 2 takes the stabilisers off to give kids a more independent way to track their progress. 
The Fitbit ecosystem has evolved over the years to become one of the cleanest interfaces for tracking core aspects of health, both activity-wise and diet-wise. Taking after its adult counterparts, the Fitbit Ace 2 uses a three-axis accelerometer and vibration motor to track advanced metrics like distance and calories burned. At age 13, (Fitbit asks for everyone’s birthday upon setup), kids will automatically be switched to an adult account for more granular metrics like body fat and menstrual tracking. The best part? Progress doesn’t have to start over — they can simply swap their colourful Ace 2 band for an Inspire band.
Kid-specific content includes 20 animated clock faces that turn into celebrations when a goal is reached (like a rocket ship taking off as they inch toward their step goal) and fun fitness challenges. Kids do have access to their stats on the app, but the on-screen surprises are a genius way to encourage the daily habit of getting up and moving.
The experience isn’t as seamless when the Ace 2 is synced to someone else’s phone. Switching between Kid and Parent View is a pain, and though alerts for texts and calls are better than no communication at all, a phone is needed to actually answer the call.  

Celebration messages • Adjustable band • 10 fun clock faces to consider

Does not support Amazon Fire tablets • Not the most kid friendly design

Aimed at a slightly older age bracket, with everything they need to track activity and challenge friends.

Fitbit Ace

This stripped-back fitness tracker is a great way to encourage and motivate kids to get moving.

  • GPS:
    No
  • Battery life:
    Up to five days
  • Sleep tracking:
    Yes
  • Water resistance:
    Yes
  • Communication features:
    None
The Fitbit Ace makes fitness fun for kids, and tracks and rewards steps, active minutes, and sleep on a bright display. 
Kids get rewarded for hitting goals with celebratory messages and achievement badges, and users can challenge others to step competitions plus send each other messages. Stats sync wirelessly and automatically to iOS and Android devices, with a battery life of up to 5 days.
It’s also one of the most durable devices on this list, with a showerproof design that can survive splashes and spills with a secure, adjustable wristband for growing kids.

Pre-loaded apps • Camera for photos and video • Messaging • Interchangeable watch straps

Not compatible with iPhones • Battery could be improved

Fun smartwatch is packed with apps and games, plus a camera for taking photos and videos.

Kurio V 2.0

Stay connected with this smartwatch that comes pre-loaded with 20 apps.

  • GPS:
    No
  • Battery life:
    Up to three days
  • Sleep tracking:
    No
  • Water resistance:
    No
  • Communication features:
    Messaging
The Kurio V 2.0 smartwatch is packed with apps and games for instant fun, and even lets users take selfies and videos, play single and two-player games, message friends, listen to music, and more. You can expand the memory to 32GB to store a massive range of apps and media to keep your kids occupied.
This smartwatch also comes with an activity tracker, alarm/stopwatch, calculator, and calendar. Parents can even add vital information like blood type and allergies for emergencies. 
Kids get to choose a watch face and wallpaper, and swapping bands is easy. The included bonus band changes colour on your kid’s wrist as their temperature rises, which is pretty cool.



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