Fully updated for 2020! Getting kids active can be either something that is increasingly hard or something that you don’t need to worry about at all.
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If you have a child that’s bouncing around day after day then you might not feel the need to help encourage them to be more active.
On the other hand, if you have kids that prefer watching the tv and playing computer games to going out for a walk then maybe a fitness tracker might be something to consider for a bit of gentle encouragement to get more active
Whether you’re concerned about your child’s potential for becoming obese or just simply wanting to instil some good habits around being active a Fitbit or fitness tracker is a good tool.
Are fitness trackers good for kids?
When I first started looking at the many fitness trackers kids might enjoy a few years ago I had no idea that they would become a big thing. My kids were young teens and there was not anything suitable for them that didn’t focus on more adult themes. Many people have also asked me whether Fitbits are good for kids so I figured writing about this exact subject might be worth it!
Fitness trackers are great for getting kids more active but adult trackers may well have features that might be harmful to kids (for example having a calorie focus). Specific kids trackers are definitely more recommended and there are a lot around nowadays.
How old should you be to have a Fitbit or fitness tracker?
It’s such a personal question this one and it really does depend on the child I think. As well as that, it depends on the kind of fitness tracker you’re looking to purchase. There are some really good trackers that are aimed at ages 4 upwards which definitely aren’t the same as the older kids versions or adult trackers.
TIP – When looking for older kids definitely check whether it is just a normal adult’s tracker that is being marketed to kids – I see that a lot, especially on Amazon. A regular tracker has ‘kids fitness tracker’ in the headline to pick up a greater amount of people searching. It DOES NOT mean that it’s suitable for kids!
I’m really pleased to see that Fitbit has started making trackers solely for kids now too as I do really like their trackers and have had good experiences with them. For older kids wanting the brand name, it’s good to know that you can get something that looks just like a normal adult version but aimed at kids.
Here are some ideas of things to think about when deciding if your child is old enough:
- What is the strap size – will it fit my child’s wrist?
- Does the tracker need an app – if so is it parent-controlled (most are) or does the child need their own account and app?
- What does it track?
- If calories burnt is tracked it’s definitely NOT a kids tracker but for teens, it could still be an option worth considering
So, are fitness trackers good for kids? The pros and cons:
- It does encourage them to get moving – reminders work!
- They are fun – many have activities and games
- The games help to keep the novelty of the idea fun for longer
- I like that they track sleep habits – a good one for kids to see, especially those who like to stay up late
- They can feel part of the family if the adults all have one
- Most are customisable with different straps so great for multiple kids
- Buying adult versions can have calorie emphasis which isn’t suitable for kids
- Some schools don’t allow them so might be hard to get into a habit of using outside of class
- Some people think they can be expensive for what you get – many compare with adult features on cheap trackers though which I don’t feel is fair
What to look for in a kids activity tracker
Fitness trackers for kids should always be something that is fun and that doesn’t penalise kids. We want them to be encouraged to move around rather than feel like it’s a chore and that’s a tough thing to get right.
When looking for the best fitness tracker for children you probably also will want to have something that is inexpensive, simple to use and comfortable on your child’s wrist if it’s a watch design. You also need to think about what you want it to track – tracking calories might not be appropriate but a step tracker watch could be just what you’re after.
When I’ve been looking at the best kids fitness trackers that are for sale right now in 2020 I’ve found it tricky to get some that aren’t too expensive and that actually work! There are plenty for adults but getting something that is good for kids? A bit harder!
Overall I am a huge fan of these devices to get kids more active, but I do think that a little bit of research is needed before blindly buying a cheap tracker thinking that it would be good for kids.
If you’re at all worried about excessive screen time or just your kids being more sedentary then it’s got to be worth a try. Pair it with an open conversation with your kids about why it’s a good idea to be more active and they’ll likely relish the novelty – then the kid-specific ones come into play since the games will help prolong the interest!
I’m super pleased that over the years, as I’ve updated this article, that more companies are coming out with kid orientated watches. It’s important to me that we encourage activity but stay away from talking about burning calories while tracking – there’s much more time for that when we’re adults!
So, what’s the best fitness tracker for kids?
Your kids age will dictate what the best product is – younger kids won’t have the wrist size for some of the more adult-orientated watch fitness trackers that are available so they’ll need something designed just for them.
Older kids will probably not feel the need to have the game orientated watches that dominate the young kids fitness trackers.
If you’re looking for fitness trackers for older kids and teens scroll down for my top picks there.
Best fitness tracker for young kids
The following activity trackers are good for kids up to about the age of 9. Scroll down if you’re looking for more grown up products.
Fitbit Ace 2
New in 2019 is this kids Fitbit. I’m a big fan of this company having used them lots over the years and I’m thrilled to see they are opening up the doors to more Fitbits for kids (there’s another in this list if you scroll down too).
The Fitbit Ace 2 is their answer to a fitness tracker for a younger child and it’s a really good product. It’s aimed at age 6 and upwards but I think it’s could last a long time – the design of it isn’t too childish and too chunky on your child’s wrist and so definitely feels like kids will want to wear it for a few years at least.
One concern that always comes up about Fitbits is whether kids can have an account. Fitbit have addressed this in recent years and you can set up a family account with a child view of this tracker so they can see how they are doing.
- 5 day battery life
- can earn virtual badges
- tracks steps, active minutes and sleep
- different colours and replacement bands available
- good quality
- at the higher price point due to the brand name
This is definitely my choice for the best fitbit for kids if you want to stick with that brand.
Don’t forget to check eBay for other options that might suit your kids:
Garmin Vivofit Jr Motivator and Activity Tracker
This is a good option if you want something from a good brand name that deals with these kinds of children’s fitness trackers. The Garmin Vivofit Jr is marketed for ages 4-9 but it’s definitely not one that looks too babyish and so I think could last for a long time. It has some great designs available that are suitable for a wide range of kids tastes.
What is unique about this fitness band is that it has a parent controlled app – they can motivate the kids to do more activity through this!
I liked this one so much I decided to do a more in-depth review that you can see here.
- lots of features that are controlled by the parent app
- doesn’t need to be charged – it’s battery powered
- can incorporate chores and other tasks as well as active time
- tracks steps, sleep and active time
- 2 year warranty
- On the more expensive side compared to some
Alongside the Fitbit it’s one of my favourite child pedometers for this age range especially with the fun yet not too childish designs.
Garmin Vivofit Jr 2
Garmin has updated their range and brought out some themed activity trackers from Star Wars, Marvel and also Minnie Mouse – definitely worth looking at especially if you have kids who are crazy about these characters! As well as being quite unique and having some fun straps, they have new games that are attached to the app too.
You can see more about this new range of trackers here
Leapfrog LeapBand Activity Tracker
If you have young kids and want to get them active then this is one of the best things I’ve found. It really encourages the child to get active by having games to get them moving. It’s suitable for ages 4-7 approximately.
The LeapBand has a virtual pet that your child will have to keep healthy by jumping, keeping active etc and there are other challenges that the band gets your kids to do as well. For the price, it’s a really lovely little toy and it would be a perfect stocking filler if you’re looking for something for Christmas.
- Makes a game out of keeping active
- Comes in different colours
- Can be set to not be in use during the night and school hours
- might be a bit too ‘young’ for some kids
- it’s a little bulky
Vtech Kidizoom DX2 Smart Watch
Now, this item isn’t specifically a fitness tracker, it’s a smartwatch, but it does include a child’s pedometer and motion sensor so you can certainly use it to encourage and keep track of your child’s fitness and activity levels.
It’s a child version of a smartwatch, but obviously at a lower price and with child-friendly games on as well. It comes in 3 different colours – blue, green and pink and is suitable from the age of 4 upwards.
- Multi-use toy with lots of smart apps and a camera
- the pedometer keeps track of steps and activity
- Action challenge activities
- should be splashproof but some have had issues with this
Best activity tracker for teenagers and older kids
Once your kids get a little older you’ll probably be looking for a tracker that’s a bit more grown-up looking and so it’s natural to be looking at what is available for adults. Here are some good options for kids in the 8+ age range.
If you want a more adult looking tracker for your child, want to stay with the FitBit brand but feel the Ace 2 I mentioned above might be too childish then take a look at the FitBit Ace which was released just recently and is aimed at ages 8 and upwards. It seems like a nice go between of having a grown up looking tracker but without the focus on calories burned and it certainly looks just like some of the more adult trackers shown on this page. If staying away from calories burnt is an issue for you then do check it out.
- Looks just like an adult tracker
- tracks steps, active minutes and sleep
- parents can set up an account to keep tabs on it
- FitBit is a great brand I have had personal experience with
- Some may feel like it’s expensive for what you get
LETSCOM Fitness Tracker Watch
Although an adult tracker this one from LETSCOM is really good option and one of my favourites for the top spot in activity trackers for older kids. It’s an inexpensive watch, looks very like a proper FitBit, and it is quite high on the features – the value for money is amazing really.
(There are a few different versions available of this nowadays too – have a look at the link below and see what you like the look of!)
It will track your steps, distance and calorie counting as well as tracking sleep. It has some other pretty cool features including being able to show who is calling you if you attach it to your phone app. Not bad for a cheap fitness tracker!
- Lots of features including a step and sleep tracker
- Good value for money
- comes in different colours – purple, green, pink, blue and black
- strap isn’t great, but on the plus side is replaceable
- be aware this is designed for adults so might not be good for small wrists
My choice of the best fitbit for teens is going to be the Fitbit Inspire. This is for a couple of reasons:
- it’s not too expensive compared to others in the fitbit range
- it tracks more than just steps – calories and activity should you want that
- it displays the time just like a watch
- it’s not huge – so won’t feel out of place on a small wrist
- the app keeps track of everything – you could put it on your phone or your kids.
- teens do appreciate good brands!
There are a few cons to a real FitBit of course
- the cost might be too much for a child item – there is the worry that it will get lost or broken
- You may not like any emphasis on calories burnt for kids or even teens
Personally I do also really like Fitbit because they have an excellent customer service – one of our Fitbits stopped working and they replaced it with no questions asked (we just had to show we had a receipt for it), so although there are lots of cheaper versions out there I think getting a good brand is worth it. If you want to invest in a good tracker this is the one.
BingoFit kids fitness tracker
New for 2020 is this tracker from BingoFit which is really popular. This is a good option if you don’t want the expense of a Fitbit for your kids which still looks grown up and good quality. They state it’s designed for kids but comes with lots of tracking options (some of which might not be suitable depending on what you want).
The sports wristband will track your steps, your walking distance, calories, sleep quality and will also do things like notify you of incoming messages if you attach it to your phone. It’s a really good entry smartwatch and will connect to android (above 4.4) and iOS (above iOS 8) phones with its app (although there are a few that it won’t work with so do check – Samsung H3, Huawei P3, Windows phones and iPads) so you can use it to see incoming calls and messages too.
I really like this one because it does all you’d want a more sophisticated tracker to do but at a much-reduced price – one of the cheapest of the trackers for the older kids. It will help your kids feel all grown up yet will be cheap enough to have you not worry about getting it broken.
- looks good quality
- tracks a variety of different things
- comes in 5 colours – green (above),blue, pink, purple or black
- although they say it’s designed for kids some find the strap too big