Not quite a smartphone, not quite a tracker - the children's smartwatch offers mums and dads a happy medium. Coming in loud, bright colours, the watch takes to the wrist like any kids’ timepiece, concealing useful features, such as navigation tracking, physical activity metrics and voice or video calling.
Are smartwatches for kids worth it?
Smartwatches for children greatly differ from the advanced, application-studded contraptions we adults use. Guardians can tap into parental controls, tweak time limits, monitor their little ones’ sleep trends and even assign chores, without handing over a smartphone.
Still, as with all electronics, parents should exercise caution. Dr Saman Khan, a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist at Aspris Wellbeing Centre, Dubai, said: "[Smartwatches] can be used by parents to track their children and let children communicate with their parents without needing a phone. This helps reduce anxiety for both parents and their children. However, it can be an early introduction to accessing smartphones, if children and young people want to start accessing more apps."
It may be beneficial to pick up a digital device such as this when little ones start demanding a smart gadget of their own. While children get homework and sleep reminders from the wrist, parents could ring the 'watch phones' for a quick check-in. But, not all smartwatches are built the same - only a handful of these accept nano SIM cards.
Some watches are designed with children as young as preschool age in mind, who'll enjoy pre-installed educational games, selfie cameras, dance alerts to get them moving and so much more. Mums and dads concerned about screen time should be able to curb access via controls whenever necessary.
What is the best way to introduce children to a smartwatch?
According to Dr Khan, these watches may still spark curiosity about smartphones, so if parents truly want to delay the use of mobiles, fitness trackers may be a safer option. She explained: "There are other devices that are just linked to fitness and, hence, to wellbeing, which may be a better option for children who are not ready for more complex social devices."
In child-friendly fitness trackers, kids are encouraged to engage in exercises, sports and other activities through a reward-based system. If they've slept poorly throughout the night, parents can find these metrics helpful, too. However, warns Dr Khan, the trackers should only be used to support an already existing healthy lifestyle, rather than as a replacement.
"Parents should only give these devices when they feel their children have learnt how to balance their schoolwork, social life and health awareness," she said. "Nothing can replace healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle to balance wellbeing. We need to be mindful that children do not need to control everything in their life at a young age."
Keeping these pitfalls and advantages in mind, we've drawn up a list of smartwatches and fitness trackers for kids. Some allow cellular connectivity, while others strictly bar any wireless connection for safety reasons.
Choose the watch that fits your and your child's needs, as well as their age group. We've added comments from mums and dads in the reviews that offer more clarity. If you're shopping on a budget, check out Amazon's discounted sports and fitness items, including smartwatches. Subscribe to Prime to get free, fast delivery.
1. Best Overall: MyFirst Fone R1s, Cotton Candy
- Makes and receives audio calls
- Carries Wi-Fi and 4G LTE support
- GPS tracking with geo-fencing
- SOS button sends a 30-second live recording of surrounding sounds
- Parental control app is available on iOS and Android
- Video calls might not be possible in the UAE
Our best pick is a full-featured smartwatch, one that carries Wi-Fi, 4G LTE and GPS (Global Positioning System) support. Perfect for preteens who can be out and about without direct supervision, this watch phone offers parents advanced location tracking and geo-fencing that keeps children within set boundaries around the house. Smartphones can establish a real-time video or voice call with the Fone R1s, with parental controls accessible on both iOS and Android devices. In case of an emergency, children have the option to hit a one-touch SOS button that shares their location with parents instantly. If mums and dads are worried about distractions during studies, the class mode silences all alerts except the SOS function. Additional features include a heart rate sensor, water resistance and on-board music storage. Reviewers find comfort in keeping track of their child's location on a playdate. UAE-based buyers attest to clear voice calls and texts, but note the video call option may be void. Others purchase it for after-school activities.
Bonus: Buy with 0% installments and pay Dh66.58 for 12 months with select banks.
2. Best for Siblings: VTech KidiZoom Smartwatch DX3, Purple
- Parental game controls and time limits
- School mode converts it into a regular watch
- Connects with other DX3 watches for gaming and preset messaging
- Sets reminders and alarms
- Long battery life
- Not water-resistant
VTech's KidiZoom DX3 does away with wireless connectivity - instead, it allows two of the same watches to pair for sending preset messages and playing a round of Tic-Tac-Toe. In this case, it's the perfect watch for siblings aged four and up. Time-telling is made exciting with over 50 animated watch faces and custom edits with their own photos. Like the Fone R1s, the DX3 has not one but two cameras for clicking fun selfies and videos. It even has a built-in LED flashlight. Kids can spend waiting times playing the eight pre-installed games, of which three encourage movements like running, jumping and dancing - all come with parental game controls and time limits. Other apps can help them set daily reminders for bedtime, homework and bathing. When it's time to buckle down on schoolwork, switch to school mode to turn the watch into a 'dumb' timepiece. Parents say that it only unlocks a new game once an exercise goal has been met. Kids also use it to create a schedule of their day's activities. Others note that the battery life lasts for several days on a single charge.
3. Best for Younger Kids: Little Tikes Tobi Robot Smartwatch
- Interactive robot software for kids
- Sets timer, alarms and reminders
- Educational games with movement rewards
- Pairs with other Tobi Robot watches for texting and calling
- Wrist strap doesn't hold on to the watch face during rough play
If your child is a fan of the Tamagotchi virtual pet watch, the Little Tikes' Tobi Robot makes for a fun alternative. Little ones get to look after their robot friend Tobi, who comes to life with moving arms and legs, diverse expressions and animated sound effects. Their watch robot teaches them to tell time, sets alarms and reminders, and offers a catalogue of educational games. With a built-in pedometer, the watch encourages movement via dance, activities, games and rewards. They can capture selfies with friends and decorate photos with stickers, too. The Tobi Robot smartwatch also pairs with other Tobis nearby, albeit, with the permission of the parent. Thanks to the large watch face, parents can clip the device onto their kid's clothes, besides the wrist, and even use it as a display on the bedside. Parents love that children can interact with Tobi in several ways - feeding it, shaking it and poking it. They advise wearing it inside the house as the heavy watch face can slip out of the band easily.
4. Best Fitness Tracker: Garmin Vivofit Jr.3
- Set activity goals in a day
- Parents can manage controls via the app
- Incentives for being active
- Up to one-year battery life
- Water-resistant in up to 50 metres
- Reviewers note low screen brightness
The Garmin Vivofit Jr. 3 is an excellent all-day activity tracker, slimmer and more lightweight than any other smartwatch on this list. It records everything, from sleep monitoring to picking up every skip and jump your little one makes. This Vivofit Jr. 3 is a Mandalorian edition that pairs well with an interactive Star Wars app. Upon completing a one-hour active minutes goal, kids get to unlock adventures in the app. They also earn colourful gems with each activity completed for quizzes and games. Mando acts as their coach and teaches them new exercises using fitness cards, too. If parents want, they can assign chores and tasks to their kids from the app, with virtual coins as points won. Children can, then, use their earned coins to redeem agreed-upon rewards, such as allowance, screen time, art supplies, gaming and more. Parents in the reviews note how their children are happy to complete their active minutes and love that it involves the guardians every step of the way.
5. Best Health Tracker: Cubitt Jr Smart Watch
- Reads temperature and heart rate
- Notifies 10 daily reminders for good habits
- Pairs to a smartphone for teens
- Seven sports modes and eight games
- Up to seven days of battery life
- Vibration alarms might not be strong enough for wakeup times
Another option for a fitness tracker is the Cubitt Jr smartwatch. Unlike the Garmin model, this tracker takes note of body temperature and heart rate. It allows for 10 daily alarms for forming good habits, such as eating breakfast, doing homework, sleeping and more. The large 1.4-inch colour screen lights up as soon as kids lift their wrists, displaying their day's daily activities. There are seven different sports modes, eight brain games and lots more stored on this watch. With the option of reviewing calories burned and receiving calls and texts, the device can be suitable for teens up to 15 years old, who would have to pair the watch with their own phone. For younger users, parents can set up a child lock to remove distractions during their studies. Parents in the reviews like that their kids cannot access social media or the internet via the Cubitt Jr. They also find the temperature readings extremely helpful, having detected a fever in the middle of the night. The watch also sends hydration alerts once it finds the child too warm.
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