Fitness trackers for kids have become a hot ticket item in recent years. With many children overweight or obese, they offer creative solutions to get the younger generation moving. Many of these devices are designed to help your kids get fitter and healthier, while making counting steps feel like a fun game.
- Garmin Vivofit Jr 2
- Fitbit Ace
- Fitbit Ace 2
- LeapFrog LeapBand
- VTech Kidizoom DX2
- Kid Power Band
- Nabi Compete
- Sqord Activity Tracker
- iBitz Kids Activity Tracker
Childhood obesity is a serious problem in many developed countries putting kids at risk for poor health. In the US, obesity now affects 1 in 6 children.
The causes of excess weight gain in young people are similar to those in adults, including factors such as a person’s behavior and genetics. Weight management is a long-term approach to a healthy lifestyle. It includes a balance of healthy eating and physical exercise.
A recent review of more than 50 published studies by the University of Strathclyde shows there’s a problem of declining physical activity in children. Daily activity fell gradually from the age of four or five, in both boys and girls by about three to four minutes each year. Separately, the World Health Organization found that four out of five children between the ages of 11 and 17 do not meet current physical activity recommendations.
Children who have obesity are more likely to become adults with obesity. Adult obesity is associated with increased risk of a number of serious health conditions including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. If children have obesity, their obesity and disease risk factors in adulthood are likely to be more severe.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
It can be difficult to motivate your child to move more. Official medical guidelines on the amount of recommended activity suggest 60 minutes of physical activity per day. This can include either moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as brisk walking, or vigorous-intensity activity such as running. Be sure to include vigorous-intensity aerobic activity on at least 3 days per week.
Children love to achieve something. It makes them feel more important, it gives them something to work towards. By setting goals, getting feedback and being rewarded, little ones are encouraged to do more. Fitness trackers for kids create a sense of achievement, whilst making fitness seem like a game and promoting friendly competition.
And let’s not forget the all-important cool factor. That’s an area in which kids will always naturally compete: who has the best toys.
By teaching your children about their activity levels, you can help to make fitness a habit, not a chore. The more they learn about the benefits of movement and activity, the more likely they are to make an effort to stay fit long into their adult lives.
On top of all of this motivation, you can be sure that using the fitness trackers will be excellent for you as a parent. You will know when to reward effort and when to push for more, just by glancing at the stats.
Trackers for kids may not yet be as commonplace as they are for adults, but perhaps they should be. What follows is our selection of some of the best devices on the market right now. Make sure that you give your kids the best start at fitness by getting them the coolest and funkiest fitness trackers.
These devices should not be confused with gadgets that enable parents to stay connected with their children throughout the day. Although some share the same functions, these wearables typically use a GPS system to pinpoint the exact location of your child on a map.
Pros: Well known brand, always-on color screen, colorful designs, gamifies fitness, rewards good behavior, no charging
Cons: More suitable for younger kids
Let’s cut right to the chase. Out of all fitness trackers for kids we’ve come across, Garmin Vivofit Jr 2 is our choice as the best device. Now on its second generation, the activity band ticks all the right boxes.
The gizmo comes with two important upgrades over its predecessor. First there’s an always-on color screen instead of a black and white screen. And second, Garmin has teamed up with Disney to deliver a range of branded designs.
Yes, you still get all the great features. This includes a variety of educational mobile adventures for the kids, and family step challenges to get the parents off the sofa. As young ones reach their daily 60-minute activity goals, fun facts and a mobile adventure trail are unlocked. The tracker also reminds kids to stay active with a move bar and even monitors sleep.
Parents will once again be able to assign their child chores to do around the house and Vivofit jr 2 will give the kids a nudge when they need to complete them. These can be set up to recur daily or even weekly. Kids can even earn virtual coins for every task you assign, which they can then use to redeem in-app rewards.
The waterproof device comes with an accompanying smartphone app for parents. You can add multiple children to the app to see all your kids’ daily activity in one place. Characters from the bands will also show up in the mobile app.
The Vivofit Jr 2 band is available in a number of colorful themes including Star Wars, Stretchy Avengers, Marvel and Minnie Mouse. If you prefer, you can also opt for the first generation device which comes at a slightly lower price and similar specs.
Pros: Integrates into Fitbit’s range of products, suitable for older kids, Family accounts in app, light and comfortable to wear
Cons: Needs to be charged every 5 days, only tracks fitness (no games like Vivofit Jr 2)
Fitbit was not someone you would associate with fitness trackers for kids until recently. With the Ace, little ones finally got a Fitbit of their own. The wearable is an Alta lookalike that is specifically designed for those 8 and older. The showerproof device automatically tracks steps, active minutes, sleep and provides encouragement to be active. It has up to 5 days of battery life and comes in a number of vibrant colours.
Because Ace has an OLED tap display, your kid can see their progress in real time. The tracker dishes out rewards for moving with celebratory messages and fun, collectible badges. And, if you have a Fitbit yourself you can promote a bit of friendly family competition.
Along with the wearable, the San Francisco outfit has introduced a new family account which allows parents to safeguard their kids’ privacy and stay on top of their activity. The Parent view lets you navigate between your view and your kid’s view to check their activity and progress. It also allows you to manage who your children connect with and what information they see.
The Ace is a one size fits all affair. It is meant for wrists measuring between 125mm and 161mm and, just like the Alta, the width of the tracker is only 15mm.
Pros: The best Fitbit for younger kids, can take a beating, large display, Family accounts in app, virtual badges
Cons: Needs to be charged every 5 days, only tracks fitness (no games like Vivofit Jr 2)
Released this spring, Ace 2 is designed for children 6 and up. To serve this purpose it comes with a more rugged design than the first generation, along with better water resistance (5 ATM).
The screen is also larger, so much that the gizmo looks more like a smartwatch than a fitness tracker. The bumpers around the display give it even more bulk, but these serve to protect the wearable during playtime.
In terms of activity, Ace 2 tracks all-day steps and active minutes, sleep, there’s a 1-hour active minutes goal (as per WHO recommendations), virtual badges and more. The first generation tracker doesn’t have a heart rate monitor, and Ace 2 is no different.
Ages: 4 to 7
Pros: Wonderful design, provides fun physical challenges, offers age-appropriate lessons about health and nutrition
Cons: Bulky, not suitable for kids over the age of 7
LeapBand is a great device for kids aged 4 to 7. This device turns active physical play and healthy eating habits into a game with a bunch of appealing virtual rewards. This low-cost fitness trackers for kids has a colourful band with a colour screen and comes in a range of designs.
Using similar motion tracking technology as more expensive adult activity trackers, LeapBand measures a child’s activity throughout the day. But LeapBand is another device that doesn’t count steps, distance, sleep, etc. Instead, it offers a novel concept by providing a series of fun physical challenges – walking, running, jumping and dancing – that the child needs to complete to earn points to spend on their virtual pet. Kids can follow their activity progress on the energy bar that moves around the LeapBand screen. Every jump, wiggle, run, and dance earns points to unlock fun new rewards.
Players can choose from a number of different pets, including a cat, dog, dragon, monkey, panda, penguin, robot and unicorn. Points are earned via physical activity. The activities are a lot of fun, and include for example “Walk like a crab,” “Spin like a helicopter,” and “Crawl like a turtle”. As they move and earn points, kids unlock each of the additional eight pets and earn virtual toys for each of them.
LeapBand is designed to facilitate physical activities in a fun, imaginative, and engaging way, supplemented by LeapBand’s virtual pets and an accompanying app that offer age-appropriate lessons about health and nutrition. The device can be a great tool to support a child’s healthy development.
Ages: 4 to 12
Pros: Integrates smartwatch functions, camera for videos and pics, assortment of games, great design, price
Cons: May not suit those just looking for a fitness tracker, only splash proof
If you are looking for a smartwatch for kids that also functions as a pedometer and smartphone, look no further than the Kidizoom DX2.
With a sleek and stylish design, the DX2 includes 55 digital and analog customizable watch faces. There are two cameras that allow children to capture everything from action videos to selfies. Kids can even customize the pics into watch faces via the accompanying smartphone app. There is also an assortment of new games and a motion sensor for active play challenges.
Using the included micro USB cable your child can also upload photos and videos as well as recharge the battery. The smartwatch is very sturdy, and is a sort of a middle of the road solution. With this device you get the advantages of some smartphone features without having to go the full distance to a smartphone.
Pros: Helps a worthy cause, price, simple design and functionality, water-resistant
Cons: Battery needs to be charged every 5 days, no fitness gamification functions
Healthcare has emerged as the ideal space to link up wearable technology with social good. UNICEF is one such example, with its use of a low-tech wearable device for measuring the nutrition levels of children in developing regions.
The international organisation has recently teamed up with Target to launch the Kid Power Band, a fitness wearable that encourages kids to become more active while at the same time helping to feed undernourished children around the world. The device works like any standard pedometer to record activity.
By completing a certain number of steps, kids finish “missions” that unlock funding from partners, parents and fans, and funds are used by UNICEF to deliver lifesaving packets of therapeutic food to severely malnourished children around the world. The more kids move, the more points they earn, the more lives they save. Definitely a worthwhile initiative.
Pros: Head to head contests, 3 month battery life on a single charge, rewards system, virtual pets keep kids engaged
Cons: Users have reported sync issues, mixed reviews on Amazon
There are many fitness trackers for kids but Nabi Compete is the first that markets itself as a competitive band. It works much like a traditional fitness tracker and uses a battery that lasts three months between changes. It comes in the box with two identical bands, which communicate to a smartphone app to report on activity.
With head to head contests and collaborative tasks, Nabi Compete measures food burn and challenges children to walk, jump, or run. You can select a distance goal and choose from a variety of real life challenges like the length of the Brooklyn Bridge or the National Mall Loop. Or choose a food goal and see who can burn off the calories of junk food. Kids can learn the concept of calories as their food burn is displayed with relatable and familiar foods.
There is also a rewards system to motivate your kids. They can grow virtual pets by completing challenges, and feed and grow them using the “Go Points” earned by being active. Finally, they can also share their mood with friends through the kid-safe social network, nabi Konnect, and choose the teamwork option to reach fitness goals together with others.
Pros: Virtual rewards system, encourages play through fun game app, extremely durable, standard watch battery lasts 9 months, water-resistant
Cons: The app is a bit confusing, mixed reviews on Amazon
Sqord is not merely a step-counter. This is a fitness trackers for kids than motivates active play by awarding points for everyday healthy activities.
The wearable tracks all sorts of movement and converts it all into virtual rewards inside the cleverly designed smartphone app. Your kids can also participate in a weekly leaderboard and in head-to-head challenges with friends. Parents can set goals and create their own, unique awards.
There is some real-world science to back the effectiveness of this tracker too. Third party evaluation with 5th graders found that previously inactive kids using Sqord increased their activity levels by 55%.
Activities worth tracking don’t just occur on land. Those water balloon fights or swim meets can translate into big points inside the Sqord app!
The Activity Pod can take a beating and keep on tracking. The lightweight wristbands are comfortable and extremely durable.
Finally, Sqord uses a standard watch battery designed to last up to 9 months. Which means, no need to plug it in every night to charge. Replacing the battery is easy and inexpensive.
Ages: 5 to 13
Pros: Affordable, simple kid-friendly design, customized daily target
Cons: LED indicator (no proper screen), only splash proof
X-Doria, a company we normally associate with smartphone accessories, has branched out into fitness trackers for kids with a low-cost activity and sleep tracker aimed at 5-13 year olds. KidFit, as the device is called, contains a swappable wristband that is made of silicone and comes in 4 colours – blue, pink, black and yellow.
This little device has a snap bracelet that the tracker fits into which means that it will tighten up on the child’s wrist just enough so as not to get lost. The wearable is splash-resistant and has a battery life of up to 7 days – it can then be recharged via USB.
The tracker itself has a LED indicator. When you set it to sleep mode – an orange light will flash. If the child wakes up and the device starts monitoring activity – a green light will flash. When you push the button to sync, the lights flash blue.
Rather than counting steps or calories, a daily activity target is customized for each child and scored out of an easy to understand 100 points scale. While clearly the device tracks steps and distance in the background as a pedometer, the manufacturer realized that a point scale is easier to understand. Parents are encouraged to set goals using the iOS or Android app, which connects to a smartphone or tablet using low-power Bluetooth and provides feedback on a child’s progress.
Pros: Simple design, simple to use, price, water-resistant
Cons: LED light – game interaction happens on the mobile device
The iBitz Kids Activity Tracker is a low cost pedometer that clips to clothing and interfaces with the iBitz Kids iOS app. All game interaction happens on the mobile device. In this app experience, a child will have their character blast off and explore the galaxy in a spaceship powered by their steps. The more active the child is, the more they can explore and the more rewards they earn.
Parents can set goals, and add in their own real-world rewards. They can also customize things such as screen time and custom adventures, for example “A Trip to the Zoo with Mom”. The parent sets up a parent password to access this area.
The device is available in 7 kid-friendly colors, its water-resistant and has a durable clip for hip and shoe. The tracker stores 30 days of activity, has a LED light on the device which blinks when syncing, and includes an additional battery.
There is also an iBitz for Adults, so all the family can join in a healthier lifestyle. The grownup version tracks minute by minute activity, including steps, distance, and calories burned. Both the kids and adult versions are colorful, durable, lightweight devices that employ accelerometer technology to monitor physical activity.
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