Why do kids need fitness trackers? In today’s modern, connected lifestyle, it is pretty easy to get caught up in television, video games, and other less active forms of entertainment, but it’s important to keep moving in order to stay healthy and fit. This is equally important for young ones whose bodies are still growing and developing. For some kids, keeping active comes easy. For others, it’s a bit more of a challenge. That’s where fitness trackers for kids come in handy.
What makes a quality fitness tracker for kids?
Good fitness trackers for kids essentially game-ifies fitness, giving kids goals that they can accomplish in order to level up, reach an achievement, and so forth. Parents can also create challenges between all the kids and adults to see who can get the most steps or find other creative ways to inspire younger children to get up and move. It’s also worth noting that many kids fitness trackers have extras like the ability to set chore goals, again in a game-like way.
The best fitness trackers for kids:
Editor’s note: We will update this list regularly as new kids’ fitness trackers launch.
1. Fitbit Ace 2
Fitbit is one of the most well-known and reliable wearables brands on the market. The Fitbit Ace 2 is their second fitness tracker for kids and this time it has a much more child-friendly design. Recommended for kids six and up, it has a silicone band and a rugged body that can take a beating. Unlike its predecessor, it’s also fully swim-proof (5 ATM rating). The display has changed as well — the Ace 2 has a larger screen, but it is a greyscale touchscreen OLED compared to the color display of the original Fitbit Ace.
In terms of features, however, the two are almost identical. The second generation offers step, activity, and sleep tracking to help your kids stay active. They can earn virtual badges when completing goals or you can give them a gentle nudge to move more via a reminder sent through the parental app. Kids can also team up with friends and invite them to step competitions. Even if their friends don’t have a Fitbit, they can still use the built-in timer and stopwatch to challenge them to races, for example.
The Fitbit Ace 2 also has a solid battery life of up to five days, so children won’t have to reach for the charger too often. The fitness tracker comes in a number of bright, fun colors and even offers animated clock faces, which kids are sure to love. All of these features combined make the Fitbit Ace 2 one of the best kids’ fitness trackers you can buy.
2. Garmin Vivofit JR 2
The successor to the older Garmin Vivofit JR fitness tracker, this new device has two big upgrades. While the original had a black and white screen, the Vivofit JR 2 gets a color screen for the first time. The other major change for this fitness tracker is that you can get bands with branded artwork, including several from the Disney family of characters like Marvel and Star Wars.
Each of these licensed bands for the Vivofit JR 2 also comes with its own mobile app. Kids will be able to take part in missions with both the fitness tracker and app in order to achieve the goal of getting 60 minutes of activity every day. Parents can use the app to keep track of their kids’ activities and set up chores for their children to complete.
Related: What’s the best Garmin watch?
As with the original, the Garmin Vivofit JR 2 is water-resistant, and kids can even swim with it in a pool. The tracker also comes with a coin cell battery that is supposed to last at least a year before it needs to be replaced. Younger kids can pick up the tracker with a stretchy band for smaller wrists, while older kids can get one with an adjustable band.
3. Fitbit Ace
Announced alongside the Fitbit Versa, the Fitbit Ace is the company’s very first fitness tracker for kids. The Ace offers a feature set designed specifically for kids ages eight and up. This device can keep track of your children’s steps taken, active minutes, and sleep stats, and you can even customize daily step and active minute goals. The Ace features move reminders to help them remember to move if they’ve been sitting too long. Kids will receive celebratory messages and collectible badges if they achieve their goals. The Fitbit Ace also introduces new competitions in the Fitbit app that allow family members to compete against each other to achieve certain step goals.
Alongside the Fitbit Ace, the company introduced a new Fitbit family account. This will allow parents to keep a closer eye on their children’s activity, progress, and friend requests in the Fitbit app. There’s also a new child view setting, which limits what data your child sees in the app. If you don’t want them to see their friend requests, you can turn that feature off.
4. Unicef Kid Power Band
Getting your kids to exercise is a great task in and of itself, but what about helping the less fortunate? With the Unicef Kid Power Band, you get to kill two birds with one stone. As kids collect more steps, a therapeutic food packet will be sent to a child in need. The more steps they collect, the more food they will send. The band also has a set of missions that, when completed, unlock videos your child can watch to learn more about the cultures they are helping.
Related: 10 best learning apps for kids
It doesn’t offer quite enough incentive for the kids themselves but helping others through their activity is an ingenious alternative. The band also comes with a companion app that you can use to keep track of missions and monitor your taken steps. As for battery life? Unfortunately, this is an area it’s not so great at, with a battery life of around 25 hours.
5. Nabi Compete
If you have multiple kids around the house, the Nabi Compete is the band to get. The device encourages you to compete or work with a friend/sibling to reach certain goals and is easily the most affordable fitness tracker for kids on the list.
So what kind of goals exactly? The first is a distance goal. Kids will be challenged to travel the distance of a landmark, such as the Brooklyn Bridge, to earn coins. The second is a caloric goal. Kids will be tasked to burn off the average amount of calories of whatever food they choose, such as a cheeseburger. As kids earn coins, they can be spent to acquire a virtual pet that they can raise and take care of. These pets are not just for show, though. They actually give a small boost for kids when they’re in the middle of a challenge, like adding steps to your total count to give yourself that slight advantage when going head-to-head. Keep in mind that the companion app is necessary in order to access all of these features.
On the battery front, the Compete uses a replaceable coin-cell battery like Garmin’s solution, though it only is said to last around three months.
6. Fitbit Zip
Although not designed specifically for kids, the Fitbit Zip is a good fit if your child doesn’t enjoy having something on their wrist constantly. This teardrop-shaped fitness tracker can be securely clipped onto clothing and worn everywhere. Just like others on the list, it offers all-day activity tracking, including steps taken, distance covered, and calories burned.
There are a couple of things that make it a good choice as a kid’s fitness tracker. It comes in a couple of bright and fun neon colors that a lot of children will appreciate. Second is its durability — the Fitbit Zip has a rugged thermoplastic body and a metal and silicone clip. Kids can play with it in the rain, but don’t let them pool dive with it, since it’s only splash resistant. Another perk is that the device doesn’t need to be charged. It comes with a replaceable watch battery with a life of up to six months. Kids don’t even have to deal with the Fitbit app because the Fitbit Zip stores up to seven days of activity data directly onto the device, allowing them to track their progress without help from mom and dad.
Admittedly, this device is also easier to lose than a fitness band even if it has a sturdy clip, but kids eight and older will probably be able to handle the responsibility. The Fitbit Zip is also on the pricier end compared to others on this list, but it’s an excellent choice nonetheless.
7. Leapfrog Leapband
With all of these bands requiring a companion app, Leapfrog has taken a different approach. The Leapfrog Leapband, unlike most fitness trackers for kids, bears a small screen with buttons at the very bottom. Everything in this band, from the daily goals to virtual rewards, are accessed through the device itself (at least they won’t ask to use your phone all the time). As such, the device is a bit clunky in design but still offers plenty to keep the kids moving.
Parents can set fun animal-based challenges for kids to overcome each day, like “pounce like a lion”, in order for them to receive virtual currency. This currency can then be spent on a virtual pet that can be accessed on the band itself. The best way to take care of these pets and keep them healthy is by exercising and adding more steps to your total count. Furthermore, the Leapband is easy on the wallet and has a battery life of up to four days per charge.
There you have it — these are the best fitness trackers for kids in our opinion, although there are a few other good options out there. We’ll update this list with new models once they hit the market.