Health weight loss fitness news If your kid isn’t ready for a phone, a smartwatch might be a better fit

Health weight loss fitness news  If your kid isn’t ready for a phone, a smartwatch might be a better fit

Health weight loss fitness news

A smartwatch is a great piece of introductory technology for kids. These wearables can track location, send chore reminders, or provide games to play during an agonizing car ride — depending on the model you choose. Here’s how to compare.

Our pick

Verizon GizmoWatch 2

Verizon’s Apple Watch-like design offers the full smartwatch experience with GPS, fitness tracking, and task scheduling.

Best games

VTech Kidizoom DX2

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

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By Leah Stodart

The percentage of kids who have a smartphone grows by the year: As of Oct. 2019, over half of kids have their own phones by age 11 (compared to ages 13 and 14 over the past few years). Kids seem to 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, and educational TV shows on a tablet are a handy distraction when parents need some peace and quiet.

But though parental control software exists for this exact purpose, a parent’s worries about internet safety, cyberbullying, and screen time might outnumber the reasons for a young child to have a cell phone.

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 “Where are you?” 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 daily chore, 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).

Health weight loss fitness news 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 (like the Verizon Gizmo) act more like a cell 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.

Letting kids know that you can see their location can foster mutual respect and help with parental boundaries.

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 toward younger children have games from math and numbers challenges to augmented reality mysteries, and a camera with funny face filters might pop up, too. For such a small screen, the resolution is surprisingly clear and more than enough to keep kids busy in line at the store, 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.

Here are the best smartwatches for kids in 2020:


Real time GPS tracking and option to set location boundaries • Trusted contacts get a low battery notification • Parents’ GizmoHub app is clean and organized

Two-year Verizon contract required • LTE costs extra

The most all-encompassing option on the list doesn’t have much kid content, but offers freedom with texting.

Health weight loss fitness news 1. Verizon GizmoWatch 2

Verizon’s Apple Watch-like design offers the full smartwatch experience with GPS, fitness tracking, and task scheduling.

  • GPS tracking:
    Yes
  • Battery life:
    Up to 4 days
  • Sleep tracking:
    No
  • Water resistance:
    Waterproof up to 3.2 feet
  • Communication features:
    Calling and texting for designated contacts

Kids want their smartwatch to feel grown-up. Parents want to be able to control those grown-up features without smothering the kid. The Verizon GizmoWatch 2 nails that tricky balance.

The second-generation GizmoWatch sees a nearly $100 price drop compared to the original, as well as some solid improvements. Sweet price point aside, it’s still hard to compete with the GizmoWatch’s calling and texting capabilities. It’s more lively communication than the walkie talkie-style of some other watches and eases kids into some future smartphone habits — and kids will dig the freedom of texting on their own device.

Up to 10 people can be added to the parent-controlled contact list, so no, your kid won’t be able to add the number of any stranger they meet. Designated contacts can also check in on the child’s location in real time and receive alerts when the watch leaves set GPS boundaries. Other features in the GizmoHub app include step count and to-do tasks like “read a book” with a reward like “ice cream.” Everything looks stellar on the large, square touchscreen, which has a serious Apple Watch vibe. However, there aren’t many games to really take advantage of.

Despite underwhelming reviews on Verizon’s site itself, the GizmoWatch 2 has received praise from tech publishers like PCMag and Android Central. One tip: Buy the insurance in case of a cracked screen or broken strap.


Easy to add multiple kids (and parents) to the app • Can last a year without charging • Customizable coin reward system • Disney-themed bands and stories baked into experience • Less bulky than watches with distinct faces

Specific colors HAVE to be paired with a character • No GPS tracking • No way to communicate with kid

Garmin’s take on kid tech is simple enough for pre-schoolers and uses interactive adventures as incentives.

Health weight loss fitness news 2. Garmin Vívofit Jr. 2

Kids will *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 chore than your parents. That’s a given. But Garmin 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 chores or homework, then allot a certain number of coins to each task. The Vívofit 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.

Customizable 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, plus lots of storage to save memories • Great kids content including augmented reality game • 55 watch faces for learning to tell time

No GPS tracking • No chore/daily task settings • Learning Lodge service for extra apps got shut down

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

Health weight loss fitness news 3. 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 favorite 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.


Bands for the Fitbit Inspire can also be used • 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.

Health weight loss fitness news 4. 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 training wheels 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 colorful 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. 


SO many cute band patterns • Camera swivels for back and front-facing photos • Super attentive customer support

No GPS • Crappy battery life • Disappointing screen resolution

Ease kids into device life with this no-nonsense smartwatch that has a lot of personality for the price.

Health weight loss fitness news 5. iTouch PlayZoom

This cute watch hits a lot of marks that you wouldn’t expect from a $30 device, but the best part is the band selection.

  • GPS:
    No
  • Battery life:
    Less than one day
  • Sleep tracking:
    No
  • Water resistance:
    Splash-proof, but shouldn’t be submerged
  • Communication features:
    None

Perhaps you’d feel more comfortable with the whole “my preschooler has a smartwatch” thing if a cracked screen wouldn’t out you $100. The iTouch PlayZoom is a no-nonsense smartwatch that can act as a trial run or introduction to personal gadgets for your kids.

It might be on the basic side in the grand scheme of connected wearables, but there’s a lot of content packed into this device. A few touchscreen games and a camera that swivels to the front and back are sure to keep kids busy. The stopwatch makes for fun challenges or properly-timed teeth brushing, too.

The seemingly-infinite selection of bands will have kids just as pumped. Creative kiddos can express their personality with DC superheroes, unicorns, cats, space print, and more. Clock faces are customizable as well.

The official age rating is four and over, but reviewers say that kids as young as three had no problem navigating the cartoon icons. The side buttons mimic the intuitive design of the Apple Watch and no Bluetooth or app syncing is required. Aside from needing to be charged way too often, this little watch requires minimal upkeep. (Heads up: Reviews for other iTouch watches are mixed in with reviews for the PlayZoom. The kid version does not count steps or calories, track sleep, or connect to a smartphone.)

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