The best smartwatches for kids: keep in touch with your little ones
Smartwatches are not just for adults any more. But does your child really need one? And what is the best kids smartwatch in 2023?
Why purchase a smartwatch for kids?
Should I worry about smartwatches for kids privacy issues?
Best kids smartwatch
- Garmin Bounce
- Verizon Gizmowatch 2
- VTech Kidizoom DX2
- TickTalk 4
- Verizon LG Gizmopal 2
- Kurio Watch 2.0
- Sprint WatchMeGo
- Little Tikes Tobi Robot
- T-Mobile Timex FamilyConnect
What about the big wearable brands such as Fitbit and Apple?
Why purchase a smartwatch for kids?
Today’s little ones are growing up surrounded by computers, tablets and Youtube. Technology has always been a part of their life – quite different from just a couple of decades ago.
Smartwatches for kids are becoming more and more popular these days. Some parents want to encourage their child to be more active so opt for a smartwatch that tracks fitness. Others want to know their children are safe, so opt for a wearable that allows them to track their GPS location at all times.
Purchasing a device with a built-in SIM card allows parents to stay in touch even if their kids don’t have a smartphone. This does come with an on-going monthly subscription, though. Just like with a smartphone.
Should I worry about smartwatches for kids privacy issues?
This article wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t touch on privacy concerns. A number of GPS smartwatches for kids in recent years have been discovered to have security flaws which make them vulnerable to hackers. Similar concerns have been raised about kids’ connected toys in the past.
Some of these devices have been revealed to transmit and store data without encryption. This means that in a few simple steps, a stranger could track, eavesdrop or communicate with the kids, or even make it appear a child is at a different location. Furthermore, some devices sent personal information to servers, lacked proper terms and conditions and an option for users to delete their accounts.
Many of these smartwatches seem to originate from and/or be produced in China, and are imported to different European and North American markets through specialized websites run by startups or enterprising individuals, in addition to traditional retailers. This is why it’s important to opt for a well recognized brand.
In Germany, the regulator has gone as far as to ban children’s smartwatches with listening capabilities as they go against the country’s surveillance laws. This seems a bit extreme and has attracted controversy. In addition to hacking, the reason for the ban was that some parents had used the devices to secretly monitor teachers!
Enthusiasm for kids smartwatches nevertheless remains. We are not exactly spoiled for choice when it comes to quality smartwatches for kids so its important to do some research before deciding on a purchase. What follows is our selection of devices that are worth considering.
- Top fitness trackers for kids
- Fitbit Ace 3 vs Fitbit Ace 2: what’s new and different?
- Garmin Vivofit Jr 3 vs Jr 2: fitness tracker for kids comparison
Best kids smartwatch
1. Garmin Bounce
Ages: not specified
Bounce is Garmin’s first smartwatch for little ones. The company has more than a decade of experience in sports watches and it is now porting this knowledge over to the kids’ wearable space. Mind you, the outfit does already have a few fitness trackers for kids, but this is its first effort on the smartwatch front.
Bounce packs a 1.3 inch LCD and comes in Green Burst, Black Camo and Lilac Floral case options. This is a robust yet lightweight timepiece. It only comes in at 37 grams. Water-resistance is an excellent 5 ATM. This means the kids can wear the watch worry-free 24 hours a day.
There is basic fitness tracking tech on-board but no heart rate sensor. Your little one will be guided to achieve specific health goals such as 60 minute daily activity.
Beyond that, the watch packs LTE tech. This will set you back $9.99 per month or $99.99 for a full year. The connectivity does not require a phone number as it is directly managed by Garmin servers.
This allows for two-way texting and voice messaging with pre-approved contacts. Parents can set defined geogrpahical areas and children can use the check-in feature to share their current location. There is also an Assistance feature which will send a notification at the press of a button.
All in all, Garmin Bounce is a comprehensive offering. Some other features worth mentioning include the ability to assign chores through the smartphone app, there are games, alerts and some more kid friendly features.
2. Verizon Gizmowatch 2
Ages: 3 to 11 years
Verizon announced in April last year the second generation of its GizmoWatch for kids. Strangely enough, despite a bump in specs this iteration is cheaper than the original.
You get 2-way voice calls and messaging, GPS connectivity, 4GB memory, 4G LTE support, IP-67 water-resistance, sending and receiving emojis and fun voice recordings. There’s also a step counter to help keep your little ones active.
Verizon has gone big on safety features this time around. Gizmowatch 2 packs a GPS locator feature that allows you to find your child at any time. There’s also geofencing and you’ll get a notification if your little one strays outside the pre-defined safety zone. All of this can be managed from the smartphone app.
For added security, up to ten parentally-approved contacts are accessible and can be Quick Dialled from the watch. This ensures no numbers outside the predefined ones can be added. The thing can also be set to Auto Answer after repeat calls.
The New York-based telecommunications company is a well known multinational telecommunications conglomerate. Currently, Verizon is ranked as the largest mobile network in the US, ahead of T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint. Mind you, all of these have smartwatches for kids but GizmoWatch is probably the most popular option amongst them.
3. VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2
Ages: 4 to 12
The Kidizoom DX2 is the new and improved version of the company’s original watch. Now better than ever, this is one of the most popular devices for kids on Amazon. It lets young ones take pictures, videos, play games, tell time and more.
The previous generation DX allows little ones to take pictures and videos via a 0.3 megapixel camera. There is a voice recorder that lets them change their voice and give it cool effects, a pedometer, and games which can be played via the touch screen.
The second generation brings all of this and more. With a new sleek and stylish design the DX2 includes 55 digital and analog customizable watch faces. It features two cameras that allow children to capture everything from action videos to selfies and allows them to customize them into watch faces via the accompanying smartphone app. There is also an assortment of new games.
The watch helps teach kids how to tell time by letting them choose between a number of 3D digital and analog displays. In addition to the alarm, timer and stopwatch, there is a calendar feature and calculator so your child can work out simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division problems.
Unlike some of the other options in this article Kidizoom DX is very budget friendly. The one-off cost is low and there’s no on-going monthly subscription.
4. TickTalk 4 Touch Screen Kids smartwatch
Ages: 5 to 12
A new addition to this list, TickTalk 4 is the fourth generation of the kid’s wrist phone with locator. It improves on the third version in a number of different ways.
This touch-screen device tries to cover all the bases. It combines 2-way video calling, voice calling, Wi-Fi calling, smart secure messaging, and location-tracking capabilities, parental controls, SOS contacts into one simple device. The company says this is the only kids’ watch phone that can make video calls smoothly in the US.
Unlike its predecessor the wearable also has some health features. These come in the form of step tracking.
A novel feature is the free streaming music powered by iHeartRadio Family. You won’t find this on other kids smartwatches.
To keep your little ones busy, there are 2x 5MP Selfie and Snapshot photo and video cameras. With all this, the timepiece represents a good and safe cell phone alternative.
An improvement is the newly added dedicated GPS for location tracking. The display is also better than in the previous version and battery life has been much improved. In fact, there’s a massive 1,000mAh battery inside – which is probably part of the reason the device is so bulky.
In essence, the watch works like a standalone cellphone. TickTalk is offering a $10 prepaid monthly plan with RedPocketor, but you can add a new line to your own GSM carrier, such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Metro PCS, and Cricket.
5. Verizon LG Gizmopal 2
Ages: 4 and up
The kid-friendly GizmoPal provides easy, reliable ways to keep track of your children, and offers simple two-way calling so you can stay in touch at all times.
The durable form factor uses safe and sturdy materials for your child’s active lifestyle. The thing is IPX3 water resistant rated for everyday use (e.g.,hand washing).
At any time parents can open the smartphone apps and view their child’s location. You can also receive alerts of their location at pre-set times.
Furthermore, after setting boundaries the watch will send notifications if it detects the child crossing them. This is great if they’re outside playing, or if someone is home watching them.
GizmoPal works as a phone, too. Your child can make calls to two caregivers and receive calls from up to four preregistered numbers. For added safety, the phone auto-answers calls after 10 seconds.
6. Kurio Watch 2.0+
Ages: 6 to 15 years
This is a great option if you’re looking for a fun and entertaining smartwatch for your little one. Users can choose from 20 pre-loaded single and two-player games on one watch, or connect two watches together via Bluetooth. To get your kids moving, there are few motion-sensitive games, too.
The watch has a plethora of other features. It functions as an activity tracker, music player, calculator, calendar, alarm, stopwatch and more. The front-facing camera allows for selfies and recording of videos with photo filters and frames, with 256MB on-device storage.
Kurio can also be setup to communicate with the parents smartphone via Bluetooth. This serves as a hands-free way to text, and make and take free voice and video calls. No phone or contract required.
In case of emergency, there’s an app on the thing where you can enter your child’s vital information such as blood type and allergies. Contact information is there as well, so you can be contacted quickly.
The watch comes with a 1.54” touchscreen, along with a scratch resistant and splash proof design. In the box there are two interchangeable bands to match your kid’s style!
7. Sprint WatchMeGo
Ages: 4 to 13 years
Sprint launched its first smartwatch for kids in early 2020. Cleverly dubbed WatchMeGo, it aims to give parents peace of mind when their kids are not at home.
The Kansas-based telecommunications company is a well known wireless and internet service provider. Currently, Sprint is ranked as fourth largest mobile network in the US.
Sprint represents a slightly more budget friendly rival than its cellularly-enabled competitors. WatchMeGo retails for $144 on the company’s website, and requires parents to cough-up about $10 a month to enable the watch’s security and communication functions.
As its name implies, WatchMeGo is designed predominantly with safety in mind. For starters, there’s real-time GPS tracking via a smartphone app for parents. The software allows for defining safety zones so if the little one strays across a boundary, an immediate notification will be sent out. Multiple watches can be tracked from a single app. Kids, on the other hand, have an SOS button they can use to manually send an alert.
You can’t use the timepiece to make or receive voice calls, but text and video messaging is available. This is done through the watch and app. Kids can send messages directly on the watch while parents will need to use a smartphone.
There’s an optional smartphone app for the little ones, as well. Called Kidomy it provides hundreds of educational games, videos, e-books and activities for Android and iOS devices.
The attractive looking watch comes with a Gorilla Glass watch face for durability, as well as IP67 water-resistance. Under the hood there’s 4GB of ROM and 512MB RAM, with everything powered by an Arm Cortex A7 processor and a 400mAh battery.
This is a decent offering although there is nothing really groundbreaking about it. The most interesting part about the watch is the attractive design, and the fact that it comes from one of the “big four” wireless service providers.
8. Little Tikes Toby Robot
Ages: 4 to 8 years
Ohio-based Little Tikes is a well-known American manufacturer of children’s toys. Previously, the company predominantly focused on low-tech plastic toys for infants and young children. But now it’s got in on the smartwatch game.
At first glance Tobi Robot looks like other smartwatches for kids. What makes it different in terms of design are the moving robot arms and legs. The thing comes with fun sound effects, over 50 watch faces and tons of expressions to keep your kids interested. They are able to wear it on their wrist or attach it to their clothes using the included clip.
The Tobi Robot smartwatch comes with a range of games including some augmented reality ones. A number of these encourage your little ones to be active. For example, there are dance activity games that rely on the motion sensor that is built into the pedometer.
The watch also has two cameras on-board so your little ones can take video, selfies and photos. The device itself can store up to 3,000 photos or 30 minutes of video.
Little Tikes says the watch is easy to use. It comes with a touchscreen and rechargeable battery. There’s also wireless connectivity and messaging between pre-approved Tobi Robot smartwatch devices, timers, alarms and more.
Another edition to this range is the Toby 2. It comes with a different personality, over 100 emotive expressions, innovative games and many of the features of Toby Robot. Check it out in the video below.
9. Timex Family Connect
Ages: 5 to 10 years
The Timex Family Connect runs on the T-Mobile network. This is a fully featured cellular connected smartwatch for kids with two-way calling on 4G LTE, voice and instant messaging – all on a private secure network.
For your little one’s safety there are one-button SOS alerts, real-time location sharing, parents can set GPS safe zones and approve contacts and reminders through the iPhone/Android parent’s app. Finally, there’s also basic activity tracking and step counting.
The watch is designed for small wrists and comes with a comfortable, durable design. It comes in only a teal and space blue color option. The full price is $168.00 but there is a 24 month monthly $7 finance option. On top of this is a monthly subscription for the cellular service.
What about the big brands such as Fitbit and Apple?
Fitbit is building a smartwatch for kids
Fitbit is reportedly building its first fully fledged smartwatch for kids with 4G connectivity. The company has taken under its belt Hong Kong-based Doki Technologies in an effort to release the device in the near future. The company currently has a few fitness bands for kids but nothing in the smartwatch department.
If you’ve not heard of Doki Technologies, they are the Hong Kong-based startup made the world’s first kids video watch a number of years back. The latest addition to its arsenal was unveiled a couple of years ago. Dubbed dokiPal, it comes with 4G LTE connectivity, location tracking, video calling AI voice assistance, fitness tracking and more.
Fitbit bought Doki Technologies on October 22nd 2019, which is shortly before the Google acquisition of Fitbit went through. Which means it was a last minute deal that could have easily gone awry.
Fitbit will reportedly use Doki’s platform and hardware knowhow to conjure up a 4G kids smartwatch. This will likely take on other functionality from the existing Doki offering. No doubt Google will have input and knowhow to contribute to the project.
The market for kids fitness trackers and smartwatches is a growing one. Apart from Fitbit the only other mainstream brand with a significant presence in this space is Garmin. But unlike Fitbit, it has recently made an entry into the kids smartwatches with Garmin Bounce.
Apple is also making headway into this space
Apple is one of the brands looking to gain an entry into this lucrative space. The watchOS7 operating system will also come with Parental Controls.
With Family Set Up, parents can pair their iPhone to their little one’s Apple Watch. That allows them to track their child’s location through GPS, communicate with call or text messages and utilize parental controls and limits on what apps and services their kids can access.
All of this means the Apple Watch is a viable alternative to a fully fledged kids smartwatch. It costs a bit more but you can always opt for the SE version which does not run as much. It is very likely all of this is a prelude to an Apple-made smartwatch for kids in the near future.
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