Find the best activity tracker for kids to get them moving and having fun
Finding the best activity tracker for kids could make a difference when encouraging children to get moving for fun. While I spend a lot of time encouraging kids to sit down and read a book, I also recognise the growing need to pay attention to how much physical activity our children are getting.
The World Health Organisation recommends that children from 5-17-years should be getting 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every day.
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Some children will not need additional input to get enough physical movement in their day. However, if your child is like mine, and doesn’t rush to join sports clubs, it could be helpful to try using devices like activity bands for kids.
In this guide we look at when an activity tracker could be useful. If you are considering getting a tracker we provide advice on how to choose the right one for your children.
There is an activity trackers comparison chart below, plus full reviews and details of each of the current top activity trackers further down the article. You can also find the answer to the all-important question of how do Fitbits work?
Activity trackers to help get kids moving
Comparison of activity trackers for kids
Here is a quick overview of the best buy activity trackers for children. Scroll down below the chart for full reviews of each product.
Kids activity tracker
(4 / 5)
Kids activity tracker
(4 / 5)
Kids activity tracker
(4 / 5)
Kids activity tracker
(4 / 5)
Kids activity tracker
(4 / 5)
Kids smartwatch with activity tracker functions
(4 / 5)
Kids smartwatch with activity tracker functions
(3 / 5)
Best activity trackers for kids
Here is a quick list of activity trackers for children for reference. Scroll down for our full reviews below.
- Garmin vívofit jr. 2
- Fitbit Ace 2
- Fitbit Ace
- LeapFrog LeapBand
- Unicef Kid Power Band
- VTech KidiZoom Smartwatch DX2
- Kurio watch 2.0
How do activity trackers work?
Activity trackers are bands that can be worn around the wrist which contain a motion sensor. The tracker can sense the movement of your body. If the tracker is worn throughout the day it records all movement like the number of steps taken. Activity such as jumping, skipping and aerobic exercise will also be detected.
The amount of movement is usually displayed on the band, with further analysis and information being available on a smartphone app that the device is synced to.
Can activity trackers help a reluctant child to get moving?
It’s worrying to hear that many children are getting much less physical activity daily than is recommended by health experts.
While very young children will often be active in the playground, older children may get fewer opportunities to get moving. They will be spending more time seated in classrooms or at home. There may need to be more of a conscious effort to get them physically activity or exercising.
For some children, a nudge to spend more time playing outdoors or to join sports clubs will be enough to ensure they will have an active lifestyle. But for others this may not be appealing.
In that kind of situation, a kids activity tracker which encourages children through challenges and games similar to those which they may be used to playing on phones and consoles might be helpful.
When children see their activities being recorded it can show them how much they have achieved. This can give them incentives to keep creating more movement for the tracker to record. The process can help to create a habit of setting themselves goals and reaching achievements.
A similar effect can be seen when a child (or an adult) plays a computer game that allows them to collect large numbers of something e.g. gold or lego studs. They feel a sense of accomplishment in collecting high numbers of these items or achievements – and they want to collect more.
Some activity trackers have tapped further into this idea by making their trackers work like these games so that a child will receive virtual rewards for reaching activity goals too.
The Unicef Kid Power Band, featured below, even allows children to create a real-life impact to improve the lives of other children around the world. These kind of features can be a great way to inspire children and also help motivate them to get moving.
The fun look of trackers like the Garmin vívofit jr. 2, featured below, means they make exciting gifts for kids who are fans of the characters featured on the designs. This should mean they see receiving an activity tracker as something positive rather than something to pressure them to do the exercies that they have not being doing enough of!
One of the advantages of an activity tracker for children who are interested in technology and devices is that most models do not directly connect to the internet to allow access to online content such as videos and social media.
This might be a welcome alternative to devices such as game consoles and phones which do allow access to online content. Allowing children access to a great gadget that does not lead to the distraction and safety concerns that internet-connected gadgets often do could mean that an activity tracker is a more positive option for tech-loving kids.
Having your child use a kids fitness tracker for a while could also be reassuring for parents. It may reveal that your child is moving more than has been imagined! It might also help to reassure parents if they are concerned a child is not getting enough sleep, as many models will track sleep as well.
Fun ways to get kids moving
Once my son is out and about he loves being outside and being active. But the initial process of nudging him away from a good book or a computer game can sometimes be torturous!
The important thing to remember is the best activity for kids is something that they will enjoy doing. If you don’t find an activity straight away, try looking for new and different activities and create opportunities for your child to take part.
For example, my son is not very sporty but has recently tried archery and has really loved it. He also loves playing laser tag so that is something we try to do often. But those activities tend to be occasional and need special organisation.
When it comes to daily activity, other activities we try include brisk walks, having a go at crazy-golf in the park, running, cycling, swimming or even just putting on some awesome music and dancing around at home.
Getting active can also be paired up with following other interests and does not have to be solely sporty. We try to get involved in activities such as creative workshops or activities that can take place outdoors. These can range from photography walks to collecting leaves for collages and nature trails to identify tree types. They also get kids moving.
These are all simple and low-cost ways to get moving. Activities like this can also be tracked on an activity tracker and help provide a sense of accomplishment.
Make sure reminders to move are positive and fun
Of course, an activity tracker may not be the only or best solution for all children, it’s worth considering if the tracker would draw attention to the child’s activity levels in a helpful or unhelpful way.
It’s important to be aware of the dangers of over-controlling children and make sure we do not create negative associations with exercise. For example, if children are told off or shouted at for a lack of activity or enthusiasm for taking part in a sport, they may form a negative association with fitness and sports.
Similar to when we want to encourage children to read more or form other good habits, attempts that punish or pressurise the child will not work and will if anything put the child off and discourage them. Instead the more fun and exciting ways we can find to encourage children to get physically active the better!
Finding the best activity tracker for kids
If you decide that an activity tracker would be a good idea for your child, avoid allowing them to use fitness trackers aimed at adults which show the numbers of calories burned during exercise.
One of the useful aspects of activity trackers specifically designed for children is that they do not show calories burned. With the emphasis solely on physical movement, the tracker should be less likely to reinforce unhealthy attitudes about body image and food consumption.
It’s always worth remembering that the purpose of physical exercise and activity isn’t just to maintain a healthy weight or to lose weight, it’s also crucial to help us feel happy and well in ourselves.
When young children are bouncing on a trampoline they don’t have to think about the fact that it makes them feel good to bounce – it just does! Sometimes when we are a bit older, and that goes for older children and teens too, we need more reminding of that!
Features to consider when choosing fitness trackers for kids
So what features should you look out for in an activity tracker for your child?
For the child to want to wear the tracker it will have to look appealing to them. There are lots of options of designs which are appealing to children including activity trackers in bright colours.
Some are even decorated with movie and cartoon characters and come with customisable options. Older children may prefer some of the plainer designs available in more neutral colours. Find one which suits your child’s taste and personality.
Tip – get different colour or style trackers for different members of the family so they don’t get mixed up!
Ease of use
For young children look for activity trackers which have simple buttons and functions that are easy to navigate.
Water-resistant or waterproof?
Check if the tracker can be used when swimming or paddling. This will be especially important if swimming is a favourite activity for your child. Check whether the tracker is a water-resistant activity tracker or a waterproof tracker. Be aware that the term water-resistant can mean just shower or splash-safe. Make sure the tracker is swim-friendly if this is important for your child.
Comfort and sizing
Check reviews of trackers to find out how comfortable they are for children to wear and if the sizing works for children’s wrists. Adjustable straps are a useful feature to look for. A poor-fitting tracker band could easily fall off and be lost or be too tight and uncomfortable to wear.
Material and durability
A device a child wears all day needs to be durable to cope with all the everyday activities a child takes part in!
Fun features such as challenges and rewards
Trackers that feature achievements such as badges or challenges between family members can be very motivating for getting children moving. Check if the tracker includes these features.
Some activity trackers for children have multiple functions and do much more than track steps. Most act as a watch. Some track sleep and chores as well as movement and some even have camera and video functions. Consider if these features are useful for your family or a distraction from the main purpose of the device.
Children’s fitness trackers reviews
Age range: 4+
If you are looking for a top-quality child-friendly activity tracker the Garmin vivofit jr activity tracker for kids is a great choice. It includes fantastic child-friendly features in design and functionality.
Garmin activity trackers record steps, active minutes and sleep. There is a chore tracking feature that can be used to encourage chores and the activity tracker has swim-friendly waterproofing.
An appeal of the Garmin vívofit jr. 2 is that it is available in popular character designs that children love. You can choose the character that your kid likes the most and they will definitely want to wear it!
The Garmin kids activity tracker is available in designs featuring Captain America or Spiderman from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, BB-8 from Star Wars, Disney Princesses, Minnie Mouse and Frozen characters. In our home we are huge fans of both Star Wars and Marvel, so these designs are very appealing!
The game-like achievements that children can work towards are customised around the character theme, which is a really fun aspect to this device, and makes it particularly appealing to children like mine who are gaming fans.
Children can advance their adventure when they meet their daily activity goals. The screen is also customisable and children can challenge others to create more enthusiasm for activity.
Non-character activity bands are available which may be more appealing to older children and young teens.
The flexibility of the activity trackers Garmin produce is also enhanced by the option Garmin vívofit jr. 2 has to choose either an adjustable or a stretchy fit band. All children’s wrists are different sizes so it’s great to have this flexibility to ensure the band won’t fall off if too loose or be uncomfortably tight.
The stretchy band on the Garmin kids watch may be useful for younger kids who are not used to clasps – it is suitable for 4-7-year-olds and is designed to fit a 147mm circumference wrist comfortably. The adjustable band with a clasp is great for providing a lot of room for children to grow. It is designed to fit wrists from 130-175mm in circumference.
A parent-controlled app allows progress to be tracked. It’s worth checking that your phone is a model which is compatible with the Garmin Connect app as some Huawei, Lenovo, Meizu and Samsung J3 phones have had compatibility issues with Garmin Connect.
If the child is mature and responsible enough to use a phone a Kid Mode is also available to use in the app. The tracker uses a one-year battery that does not need to be charged.
Overall the emphasis on fun in this activity tracker makes it perfect for building a love of activity alongside children’s imagination.
Age range: 6+
The Fitbit Ace 2 is one of the top activity trackers. Fitbit is well known for producing fitness trackers for adults. In recent years they have released first the Fitbit Ace for children aged 8+ and more recently the Fitbit Ace 2.
The Fitbit Ace 2 comes with a fully child-friendly design and now means that Fitbits for kids age 6+ are available. The Fitbit Ace 2 tracks steps and other activities. It also tracks sleep to ensure children are getting enough sleep.
The functions of this Fitbit for kids touch screen are very simple for children to navigate. The comfortable band is made from durable silicone and has an adjustable clasp. As the child grows they can keep using it and the strap size is versatile to fit children with different wrist sizes.
Should the strap become worn or if the child wants to customise the band and wear different colours, the strap can be replaced with additional Fitbit bands which are sold separately.
Can Fitbits go in water? This Fitbit can! The Fitbit Ace 2 is waterproof even while showering, splashing and swimming – boasting water resistance of up to 50 metres.
The new range of Fitbits for children is great for young kids who love the bright colours and the ability to see and check their progress instantly. Children can create their own avatars and their accounts can connect with those of friends and family to encourage friendly competition.
The Fitbit sets an activity level goal of moving for one hour per day – in line with the WHO recommendation. As children move more they receive badges. This is a really fun and encouraging feature.
More features of the Fitbit Ace kids tracker include that it can be scheduled to send a gentle wake up buzzing alarm in the morning and a bedtime reminder at night. It can also be used as a timer to assist with chores and homework. The device can be set to send reminders to move after periods of inactivity.
The Fitbit Ace 2 uses a rechargeable battery, which has a good battery life, providing up to 5 days of use.
The Fitbit phone app syncs with the device and the app is compatible across most different devices and operating systems. Parents can view children’s activity on the phone app.
Only the Parents View of the app can approve connections with other’s accounts, which is important for safety. The Parent View has in-depth analysis of the children’s activity levels while the Kids View shows more basic stats on their progress. This could prevent children becoming too preoccupied with targets.
Age range: 8+
While the Fitbit Ace 2 is ideal for young children, older children and teens may find the look a little chunky and young. However, it’s very important for this age range to keep moving too! The earlier Fitbit Ace model may suit the needs of older children better.
Although the colours are less bright and the shape is sleeker, like the Fitbit Ace 2 this activity tracker is also durable and sturdy. It features step, general activity and sleep tracking.
The Fitbit Ace also has features like reminders to move, alarms, rewards and badges, phone app syncing with parent control, and a good battery life of up to 5 days.
While the Fitbit Ace is not suitable for swimming in, it is showerproof and can cope with some splashing.
Age range: 4+
The Leapfrog Leapband is a great option for very young children. Its design and functionality are all about fun and making a game out of moving around. It features a personalised pet which will thrive when the child is engaged in active play.
Pet options include unicorns and dragons, are exciting and fuel imagination. And when children earn points they can customise their pets.
The Leapfrog’s games will get children moving in silly and funny ways. Challenges include encouraging children to march like an elephant or wiggle like a worm. If this sounds too much for some times, parents can set the device to be in quiet mode so that it does not give commands or reminders at inappropriate moments like school or bedtime. At this time it only displays the time.
The colour options for the LeapFrog LeapBand include pink, blue and green. It is made of plastic with a rubber band and is appropriately durable for young children. The LeapFrog LeapBand is one of the best fitness trackers on a budget for younger children.
Age range: 6+
Although lacking in the additional features that some of the top activity trackers have, the Unicef Kid Power Band is a great option. Not only does it record steps and movement to encourage activity, but it also helps to fund Unicef projects to assist children.
While the band will track and show children their number of steps, with the companion app they can also make an impact. While kids get active using the band and app they unlock food packets to be delivered to malnourished children.
This is a great device to promote children’s understanding of issues other children are facing across the world. Children can track the impact their activity is having as they make progress. In the app children and families can learn more about other countries and cultures as well as helping out.
The latest version of the band is waterproof and has a good rechargeable battery life of up to two weeks. Make sure you look for the new version if that is an important factor for you, as the older version is not waterproof.
The band comes in one size and is adjustable to fit most wrists. It is available in blue and also in a Star Wars-themed black version. Replacement straps are available to customise the band in various colours and with other Star Wars designs.
Age range: 4+
The Vtech KidiZoom DX2 is not primarily an activity tracker. As it has so many functions it falls under the kids’ smartwatch category. However, tracking step counts and having active play challenges means that it can also play the role of activity tracker.
If you are looking for an activity watch for kids that combines the functions of a smartwatch with that of an activity tracker the Kidizoom DX2 could be a good choice.
Be aware that as activity tracking is not the main focus of this kids activity tracker watch, the tracking feature may get lost in the other options. However, if you are concerned that an activity tracker draws too much attention to the issue of exercise this could be a good choice for your child.
Features of this activity trackers watch include the ability to tell the time, play monster-catching games, take photos and make videos. For younger kids, the watch can also be an educational tool to help learn to tell the time. The watch comes in a range of bright colours, however, some users have found issues with its durability.
The KidiZoom DX2 is splashproof and not suitable for swimming. The watch is powered by a rechargeable battery which can be charged through a USB cable.
Age range: 6+
If you are looking for an all-in-one device in a kids step watch rather than a specific activity tracker, the Kurio watch 2.0 is a smartwatch which features include tracking steps.
Children can use features like playing games, listening to music, taking and editing photos and messaging friends who also have the same device. The watch has a number of apps like a calendar and a calculator so that kids can get used to getting organised.
Like many activity trackers, the wristband of the Kurio watch 2.0 is interchangeable with different colour straps. As an added bonus each watch comes with one additional differently designed strap.
The Kurio watch 2.0 is splashproof and not suitable for swimming. Some users have found problems with the durability of the Kurio watch.
Features that stand out for this smartwatch is that emergency medical details can be added to its “In Case of Emergency” app and that children can play music on it.
With so many features this activity tracker watch for kids may be trying to do too much and some reviewers found that its functions were unreliable.
What are your favourite ways to get your children active and moving? And have activity trackers been useful for your family? Let us know in the comments below.
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