All Climbing

Everything climbing, mountains, and the outdoors.




Best Fitness Trackers for Kids

Author: No Comments Share:

The number of children with obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s according to the CDC. And data collected from 2015-2016 indicates 1 in 5 children between the ages of 6 to 19 years has obesity. Childhood obesity has immediate and long-term effects — children with obesity are at a higher risk of having other chronic health conditions, tend to be bullied and teased more compared to children with a healthy weight, and increases the chances to become obese as an adult.

Kids who are physically active tend to have better grades, school attendance, memory, concentration, and behavior. As an active family who likes to hike, rock climb, and ski, I want to instill in my kids the desire to stay fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Also, the more technologically advanced kids become nowadays, the higher the chance they’ll succeed in the future. There’s no better way to accomplish this than incorporating the use of technology into their daily lives.

To encourage this, I decided to get fitness trackers for our daughters who are six and nine years old. The primary functions in fitness trackers I was looking for were pretty basic: waterproof, displays the date and time, step tracking, and relatively long battery life.

I’ve found that these devices are useful even for young children. My 5-year-old can benefit from a fitness tracker by being aware of the current month, day, and time. She can answer many questions on her own now — How much longer until lunchtime? Is it almost time to go home? With the addition of timers, kids also get a better feel for time and actually how long is five, ten, fifteen, etc. minutes. Time is one of those concepts that is difficult to explain and needs personal experience on a repetitive basis to truly understand.

With the ability to set personal timers, children can also learn time management. Kids can tell what time of the day it is and choose when to start their thirty minutes of daily reading as an example.

Kids are also interested in how far they have hiked/walked/run and who has more steps. As a family, we can all compete for the most steps taken, motivating each other to achieve our individual fitness goals.

All that said, below are some of the best fitness trackers for kids that made my list.

 

Garmin Vivofit Jr

Vivofit Jr collection

The popular Garmin Vivofit Jr is first on the list. With a battery life of 1+ year, it’s one less thing for kids (and me!) to worry about. After all, frequent battery charging is a hassle. Combined with the waterproof feature, the Garmin Vivofit Jr eliminates the need for kids to remove (and possibly lose) their fitness trackers.

The device capabilities are intuitive to use. There is only one button on the device that lets them cycle through the functions and make selections. They can easily see the month, date and time, the number of steps they have so far, and how close they are to their daily activity goal. As a side note, the United States Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

The stretchy band is pretty small though. It fit my 5-year-old, but not my 8-year-old. Fortunately, that’s not much of an issue since there are replacement bands for purchase.

Pros Cons
  • 1+ year battery life
  • “Swim friendly” which means waterproof
  • Functions are intuitive to use
  • Tracks steps, set timer (2, 5, 10, 20, and 30 minutes), tracks sleep (light and deep sleep), displays date and time and provides reward games if the 60 minutes daily activity goal is met
  • Setup is a breeze
  • Stretchy band is pretty small
  • The screen is black and white and measures 10 x 10 mm
  • Functions are solid but basic

The Garmin Vivofit Jr currently runs about $50 at Amazon.

 

Garmin Vivofit Jr 2

Vivofit Jr 2 collection

Interestingly, I found the Garmin Vivofit Jr 2 for only about $10 – $20 more! Version 2 has the same functions as version 1 (see above) but with some significant improvements. The Garmin Vivofit Jr 2 is intended for ages 4+. Version 2 has a colorful screen sized at 11 x 11 mm. In my opinion, the screen makes a big difference to children especially since they are used to colorful screens elsewhere, such as TVs, iPads, etc.

The Garmin Vivofit Jr 2 also comes with a lot more designs to choose from both in stretchy bands and adjustable bands. Kids can also set up to two timers. Due to this, I purchased the Garmin Vivofit Jr 2 for each of my daughters.

Setup was a breeze. I merely had to download the free Garmin Vivofit Jr app onto my phone, and then create an account to pair the fitness trackers to my phone. One account can have multiple profiles. So at a glance, I can view details for both of my daughters.

After three months of daily use, I did have to change the battery for one of the fitness trackers. Fortunately, it was an easy process. I did have an issue syncing the time though, which was two minutes behind. Garmin customer support was GREAT and immediately walked me through the steps on how to resolve the issue.

Pros Cons
  • 1+ year battery life
  • “Swim friendly” which means waterproof
  • Functions are intuitive to use
  • Tracks steps, set timer (2, 5, 10, 20, and 30 minutes), tracks sleep (light and deep sleep), displays date and time and provides reward games if the 60 minutes daily activity goal is met.
  • Setup is a breeze
  • More band options with the adjustable band
  • Colorful screen sized at 11 x 11mm
  • Functions are solid but basic

The Garmin Vivofit Jr 2 currently runs about $60 at Amazon.

 

A few months later, my oldest daughter lost her fitness tracker. I’m pretty sure it’s still at home, but we were unable to locate it after a week of searching. Which means I was in the market again to research and purchase another fitness tracker. This time I wanted a fitness tracker with the weather function. Living in Colorado, the weather changes constantly and she’s always asking for the weather forecast when picking out her school clothes.

In short, I want all the functions of the Garmin Vivofit Jr 2 plus weather. With the additional weather function, it seemed I was entering the adult fitness tracker or smartwatch market.

Here’s what I found.

 

Garmin Vivofit 4

 

Vivofit 4 collection

The Garmin Vivofit 4 seems to be an adult version of the Garmin Vivofit Jr 2. It has the weather function plus all the benefits of the Vivofit Jr 2.

Pros
  • 1+ year battery life
  • “Swim friendly” which means waterproof
  • Tracks sleep, displays date and time, monitors sleep
  • Has a weather function

The Garmin Vivofit 4 currently runs about $60 at Amazon.

 

Garmin Vivosmart 3

 

Vivosmart 3 collection

The Garmin Vivosmart 3 has a larger screen compared to the Vivofit Jr and the Vivofit 4. The device is waterproof which is a requirement in my opinion. It also has the weather function, my key requirement. This fitness tracker does not have GPS though and is, therefore, a satellite device to a smartphone. To update the weather, the fitness tracker needs to be near the phone where the app is installed.

The Vivosmart 3 has some interesting, advanced functions. It can monitor heart rate 24/7, as well as the number of calories burned. This Garmin device also includes their Smart Notifications function where the user can view emails and text messages right from their wrist. As you can see, this fitness tracker is more intended for adults.

Battery life is only up to five days. On the plus side, it has a small and thin profile. The band is not changeable though, so if the band breaks, it’s a significant issue.

Pros Cons
  • “Swim friendly” which means waterproof
  • Has a small and thin profile
  • Tracks steps, sleep, ability to set a timer, and weather
  • Interesting functions such as heart rate monitoring and calories burned
  • Shorter battery life
  • Cannot change bands

The Garmin Vivosmart 3 currently runs about $73 at Amazon.

 

Fitbit Ace

Fitbit Ace collection

The Fitbit Ace is intended for kids ages 8+. It doesn’t have the weather function. A huge negative is it is “showerproof – survives splashes and spills”. Which means to me it is not swim friendly or waterproof. Taking long showers or baths might be an issue. I’m a proponent of wearing fitness trackers 24/7. Especially for kids, having to take their fitness trackers off increases the risk of losing it.

Since this fitness tracker doesn’t have the weather function and not waterproof, the Fitbit Ace was not an option for us.

Pros Cons
  • Tracks steps, active minutes, sleep, display date and time, and can set a timer
  • Aims to motive kids to reach 60 active minutes daily
  • Ten fun clock faces to choose from
  • Shorter batter life
  • “showerproof – survives splashes and spills” not swim friendly. Taking showers or baths with it might be an issue

The Fitbit Ace currently runs about $99 at Amazon.

 

Apple Watch Series 3 (38mm)

Apple Series 3

Both my husband and I owned Apple watches. Before that, I cannot remember the last time I wore a watch on my wrist. The design of the watch is compact and efficient. The functions are intuitive to use; I didn’t even need to read the manual that came with it. I quickly got used to wearing it 24/7. I was able to monitor my health better and getting hourly notices to breathe or stand up helps too.

The notion of getting an Apple Watch for my oldest daughter was especially enticing around the holidays when the prices dropped by $80. Why deal with all the possible issues that might occur with other fitness trackers when I know the Apple watch works so well? Aside from a fitness tracker, it’s also a smartwatch. In the end though, I couldn’t justify sending her off to school with such an expensive item.

Pros Cons
  • Waterproof
  • Compact and efficient design; functions are intuitive to use
  • A smartwatch with fitness tracker functions
  • Built-in GPS, which allows for more accurate tracking of distance, speed, and map routing; built-in GPS also enables many other functions without the need to have the paired iPhone nearby
  • The price point is high
  • Shorter battery life

The Apple Watch Series 3 currently runs about $280 at Amazon.

 

I ended up replacing the lost Garmin Vivofit Jr 2 with the Garmin Vivosmart 3 for my oldest daughter. The Garmin Vivosmart 3 fits our needs quite well. My daughter likes the weather function and finds the other advanced features interesting such as the ability to monitor her heart rate during different activities. The larger screen is also a bonus.

Parenting is a huge and complex responsibility. As parents, it’s our responsibility to do our best for them now and ensure they have a bright future. While this is a small action in the greater scheme of things, I’m glad we got fitness trackers for both our daughters. As a family, we like to see who has the most steps after a day trip, thereby encouraging each other to reach our daily fitness goals. And the ability for young kids to include technology into their daily lives is tremendous. Especially with this improved understanding of time, they can manage their daily activities better and plan for the days to come. If you have kids and haven’t considered getting them a fitness tracker, there’s never been a better time to start!

Previous Article

Site reboot for All Climbing

Next Article

Video: Will Gadd Takes On Helmcken Falls with Natural Gear