By Tracey Dowdy
If your child isn’t ready for a smartphone but you’d still like to track their activity or stay in contact with them, a smartwatch is a great alternative. Since it’s literally strapped to their body, they’re less likely to lose it, and because they’re designed for kids, the designs are more robust to withstand the wear and tear of daily use.
These are some of your best options:
The Joy Octopus V2 ($59.99) teaches kids time management skills through a customizable scheduler that prompts them to brush their teeth, catch the bus, get ready for bed or anything they need to be reminded of. It’s a great option for very young children or those who can’t read yet, the Joy Octopus V2 uses icons so the child can clearly understand what’s being asked. It doesn’t emit sounds so it’s unobtrusive, doesn’t require a SIM card or phone plan, and doesn’t have a GPS tracker. The Joy Octopus V2 is available now for $80.
The Timex Family Connect offers secure two way calling within private groups you create through contacts set up in an app on your smartphone. It has real-time location sharing, in-app voice and instant messaging, and it’s SafeZone feature allows you to set up virtual fences around physical locations. Anytime the child leaves or enters a SafeZone, you’ll get an alert. The Family Connect’s one limitation is that it is exclusive to TMobile, so if you have a different provider, you’ll need to look for another device. TMobile customers can get the Timex Family Connect for $99 when you add a qualifying line.
The VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX3 features an augmented reality game, a pedometer, active play challenges, and two cameras that allow your child to capture everything from action video to selfies they can later upload them to a computer. Available for $59.99
The Garmin Vívofit Jr. is durable, features a full year of battery life year with constant wearing, and connects to your mobile app so you can track chores and manage behavior. It tracks steps, sleep, and 60 minutes of daily recommended activity is waterproof and swim-proof, and even offers fun, educational adventures for your child that allows them to earn coins to redeem for agreed-upon rewards managed by you. The Garmin Vívofit Jr. is available for $69.99.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.