As a parent, you know that keeping kids off of their screens is a real challenge. Tech is great. But when it comes to kids and tech, research shows that too much is not a good thing.
Your kid’s current video game fascination does not only prevent them from real socialization but also prevents them from keeping healthy lifestyles.
It is recommended that kids get at least 60 minutes of activity daily, with at least three days of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise. The US Department of Health & Human Services estimates that only 1 in 3 children are physically active every day. CDC Obesity facts show that percentage of children with obesity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s.
Although it is true that technology is to blame for it in a large percentage, it is also true that, nowadays, technology can improve your current situation dramatically. One of the best pieces of technology to encourage childrens activity is with an activity or fitness tracker designed for kids.
What Can an Activity Tracker for Kids do for You as a Parent?
Fitness trackers have become a compromise both parents and children can benefit from. While they’re techy and fun, they also motivate children to move their bodies daily.
It’s a big responsibility, ensuring that your children are physically active in today’s society. Gifting a child with a fitness tracker gives them the gift of starting healthy routines at a young age. They help you as a parent be accountable and engage in the everyday activities that help your children learn that physical health is beneficial.
Most standard fitness trackers for adults provide the following features:
- Log steps
- Track calories burned
- Monitor heart rate
- Track overall daily activity
- Reminders and goals
Kids fitness trackers add colorful screens and bands, clocks (sometimes timers and time-telling features, as well), and reminders to stay healthy. Parents can download a free app customized for their phone and their child’s fitness tracker and assign challenges and rewards each day.
Either a simple “remember to move” reminder, a wake-up alarm, or parents can program challenges to award coins or steps in integrated games. Kids love the challenge, the tech, and the daily “screen time,” and parents enjoy being able to participate in helping their child become more physically active without complaint.
Increasingly, parents are utilizing fitness trackers as a valuable tool to keep their children moving, track their sleep patterns, and help the family become more focused on a healthy activity.
Top Fitness Trackers for Kids
Kids Activity Tracker Reviews
Ranging from basic trackers with kid-sized bands to colorful, extremely interactive fitness trackers verging on smartphones, you can choose the right one by deciding how much you want to track. Some have sleep trackers, most have challenges, and others have educational value. Let’s run through our top picks.
Garmin Vívofit Jr. 2
- Swim-friendly kids activity tracker with Disney Minnie Mouse theme
- Kid-tough adjustable band, Features a customizable color screen and 1+ year battery life; no recharging needed
- Syncs with free mobile app, which includes chore management and schedule alert tools for parents
The Garmin Vívofit Jr. 2 comes with a larger screen than previous versions, at 11mm x 11mm. Choose from several superheroes, princess, Disney, and Marvel styles, all with durable, fun, kid-sized bands. Tracking daily activity, sleep, and monitoring steps via the parent’s free app for most smartphones.
Each style has different games to earn moves by moving, so customizing to your child’s interest is easy. The Minnie Mouse Vivofit 2 encourages movement by encouraging your child to help plan Mickey’s birthday party. Each challenge earns a move. And for the Marvel fan, each challenge completed will win your child moves toward defeating Ultron. Parents can also assign chores via the app, letting your child earn more rewards toward the gameplay.
The Vívofit Jr. 2 is not just waterproof, but swim-proof, and features a battery with a guaranteed life of one year or more, with no charging necessary.
Some reviewers were concerned that it was too juvenile for their tweens, but most reviewers noted that the recommended age range, 4-7, is perfect. The challenges presented were fun and engaging, and they all seemed to be impressed with it being waterproof. They also noted that parents can set reminders and alarms on the Vívofit Jr. 2, a nice feature for school-age children.
Garmin Vivofit Jr.
- 1-year battery life - no recharging needed
- 24/7 wearability - swim-friendly with 5 ATM water resistance. Strap material - silicone
- Kid tough - easy to put on, the 1-size-fits-most, nonstaining, 1-piece band stretches over your child's hand and fits comfortably
While the Jr 2 is more for the younger set, the classic Vivofit Jr is made for 4-9-year-olds and comes in three styles. A one-year battery, which needs no charging, and a durable non-staining band means this fitness tracker is in for the long haul.
Parents can set reminders for chores, reward with coins for activities completed, and set up family challenges from the accompanying free app. An adventure trail is set up to reward your child with a move for every challenge or chore completed. The app itself can be set up for more than one child and is customizable for each child’s daily goals.
Reviewers on Amazon noted the kid-sized bands were comfortable to slip on and stay on, and that children loved the clock and timer features, as some fitness trackers don’t fit children and don’t tell time. While some were hesitant about the cost, they wrote that in a month’s time, their children were not only more active but were begging for more activities to earn coins in their virtual piggy bank.
- Tracks steps, active minutes and sleep and shows stats on a bright, tap display
- Rewards kids for hitting goals with celebratory messages and achievement badges. Kids can challenge others to step competitions plus send each other messages or cheers
- A showerproof tracker that survives splashes and spills with a secure, adjustable wristband for growing kids (one size). Designed for wrist sizes up to 155 mm/6.10 in
With an activity tracker as well as a step counter, the Fitbit Ace offers rewards for general activity, not just steps taken. Set the step or active minute goals for you to monitor on your app, and for your child to be able to keep track of on their wrist. Kids can safely access their stats on a smartphone, tablet, or computer via the secure KidView app, which is set up and controlled by parents.
Children have the benefit of completing challenges set by parents, a sleep tracker, and a colorful and durable band. The Fitbit Ace also has a 5-day battery life, so forgetting to plug it in shouldn’t be an issue.
The Ace comes in at the top end of the price point for most trackers, but the brand is established and offers excellent customer care and regular updates. Reviewers that already owned the adult version of the Ace, the Ulta, noted that it is a smaller, simpler version of theirs. Some liked that.
Some reviewers, even though said they wished the tracker had more functionality, but also noted that it was easy to navigate and had simple parental controls.
- Tracks steps, distance and calories burned
- Syncs automatically to your computer or select bluetooth 4.0 smartphones or tablets
- Set goals, view progress and earn badges. Battery type: 3v coin battery
A straightforward tracker, the Fitbit Zip is lightweight and durable, with a step counter, distance and calorie tracker, interactive challenges, and a free app that syncs automatically. Your child can send messages to you, or to friends and family to challenge them, all while you supervise via the app.
There are five colors available for this lightweight clip-on unit, which can be attached to your waistband, backpack, or just carried in your pocket. The Fitbit Zip offers additional clips if you want to change up colors occasionally, and replacement batteries are cost-effective.
Reviews show many like the automatic syncing feature, and one noted that she syncs it with her My Fitness Pal app, as well. The simplicity of no buttons and no complicated programming was a bonus. One reviewer had battery issues with the Fitbit Zip, but was satisfied with their interaction with customer care and gave the tracker high praise for its overall ease of use.
LeapFrog Leapband Activity Tracker
- Experience the first activity tracker made for kids - LeapBand is fit made fun!
- Preload LeapBand with 50 active challenges that get kids moving, like - "Pounce like a lion!"
- Parent controls on LeapFrog Connect make it easy to set play times, challenges and more.
This little fitness tracker was designed for children 4-7 years old and has the motivation to move as it’s primary design. Children can choose a digital pet to take care of by earning rewards, and parents can keep track of how active their child is through the free app, plus give them challenges each day. The unit itself is durable and colorful.
More than one reviewer liked the challenges and completed them with their children daily. A reviewer that said they were hesitant about buying it at all said their daughter would challenge her to footraces, to meet their step count challenge. Younger siblings wanted to get in on the challenges, so they were planning on buying more just so the whole family could participate.
The clock feature is also a hit, as it displays digital and analog, and spoke the time out loud, great for kids just learning to tell time. One reviewer said the unit needed to charging daily, but since they plugged it in overnight anyway (to keep their child from playing with it when they were supposed to be sleeping), that wasn’t an issue. The price was a hit with almost all reviewers.
VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2 Tracker for Kids
- Two cameras allow you to take video and selfies that can be customized and made into new Watch faces
- Helps kids learn to tell time and has 55 digital and analog clock faces that they can customize. Features a 1.4 Inch colour touch screen and built-in rechargeable battery
- Monster detector game creates an augmented reality gaming experience where you can capture monsters in the real world
The VTech Kidizoom is closer to a smartwatch than a simple fitness tracker. Dual cameras allow for taking pictures and videos and an easy to use USB connection to upload photos to your computer means that your child will have fun using the tracker as more than just a health tool. The camera function has kid-friendly filters, similar to the grownup Snapchat app.
This little gadget offers a proprietary monster detector game as part of the reward system. Kids earn (with activity) moves in finding monsters in an augmented reality game. They can use their Kidizoom to find monsters in real life, also keeping them active!
The suite of games includes several mini logic puzzles, including Noodle Buster. More games can be downloaded (with parental permission) through Learning Lodge.
The standard pedometer and challenges are easy to use and monitor from your parent’s app, and the splash-proof unit is colorful and durable. The Kidizoom also made time-telling a prominent feature, with several fun games designed to teach how to tell time. There are also 55 clock faces for kids to choose from, as well as the ability to customize their clock.
Reviewers loved the way the Kidizoom was intuitive to use for kids, and that there were plenty of extras to download. Many noted that though the age range was 4-12 years, older children enjoyed this tracker and used it daily long-term.
The price stuck out as a concern for many, but they noted that their children were more active and earned rewards willingly, so it was worth the price. Plus, as one of the few fitness trackers targeted toward older children, the Kidizoom isn’t one that will need upgrading after a couple of years.
One Last Thing on Fitness Trackers for Kids
Now that you have several choices to go over, remember this: the fitness tracker you choose for your child should be a tool. Your example and education help keep your kids physically active. Using a fitness tracker helps you and your child work toward the goal of being an atypical American statistic. And that is a worthy goal to pursue every day.