MAY 23, 2024

Best Smart Watches For Kids: What to look for

Every child is different, and every parent’s approach to whether or not your child needs a smartwatch will vary. Here’s what to consider when buying a smart wearable for your kid.

Smart wearables as a category encompasses everything from very high-end sports smartwatches like the Apple Watch Ultra all the way down to simple exercise trackers that don’t do much more than count steps. Strictly speaking, any of them could be a good match for your offspring, so how do you choose?

In many cases this can be a simple matter of your budget, because as you already know, raising kids is an expensive endeavour! But when you’re shopping for a smartwatch for your child, it’s worth knowing what’s on the market – and where they have their pluses and minuses.

Entry Level: Simple Kid’s Smartwatches

Exemplified by brands such as Spacetalk and Moochies, the baseline of smartwatches tailored specifically to children are sold largely on their simplicity.

Unlike a “full” smartwatch, they’re locked to specific features, typically able only to call a pre-approved number or two while providing a simple GPS-based tracking system so that you can feel assured that your child is at school when they’re meant to be, or at a friend’s house or whatever. At the higher end of this category some watches will incorporate fitness tracking, simple educational games or music playback.

SPACETALK Loop Smart Watch | Source: SPACETALK

The downsides here are that they are quite simple by smartwatch standards (though of course, some may see that as a big plus), and most will require daily charging to keep on ticking. They’re also usually tied to a specific mobile network and paid ongoing subscription plan to provide their tracking and calling features, with no ability to shop around for different mobile deals. Few have plans that are all that expensive in a strict dollars sense, but in terms of mobile call inclusions not all of them are great value.

Mid level: Mid-Range sports trackers

If your child is more sporty – and if you’re less fussed about the GPS tracking side of things – then it may be a better bet to opt for a mid-range sports tracking wearable from brands such as Fitbit or Garmin.

The appeal here is much more around fitness tracking, with integration typically via a paired smartphone, so these are better matches for older children or high school kids rather than early preschoolers. Many are built to a more robust standard than the simpler and cheaper kid’s smartwatches, which means that they can be a better match if you find that the cheaper models don’t last so long simply because they’re being battered to death during active recess periods.

Garmin Vivofit Jr. 3 | Source: Garmin

Some fitness trackers at the higher end do also start to include some basic apps for other purposes, though few are really specifically built as trackers if you’re more concerned about keeping a specific eye on where your child actually is. Calling also generally isn’t a direct feature, but then they’re usually tied to a smartphone that can be used for that purpose.

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High level: Does a higher-end Apple or Samsung watch make more sense?

The kinds of smartwatches that you can get from the likes of Apple, Samsung or Google are quite powerful devices in their own right… but they’re also not what anyone could call inexpensive.

Taking the Apple Watch first, it’ll only work with a paired iPhone, and those aren’t cheap either, but if your child has a hand-me-down iPhone, then an entry level model like the Apple Watch SE will match well, providing calling, tracking and a wealth of apps for your child to enjoy. You could alternatively opt for an Apple Watch with direct cellular connectivity, at which point it can be used independently for calls and tracking – but again you’ll have to pay a monthly fee to a telco for the privilege.

Samsung doesn’t just limit its smartwatches to its own phones (though they do work a little more seamlessly with Samsung Galaxy phones), so you can match them to other Android phones, but not Apple ones, and Google’s Pixel Watch has a similar approach.

You’re typically talking a more powerful device here for better and worse; you’ll get a watch that’s more fun for your child to use and one that has generally better overall battery life and physical robustness than with cheaper options – but that also means it’s a more expensive proposition to replace if your child does manage to lose or break it.

Need help setting up your new smart watch? Geeks2U can help get it connected to your phone, your Wi-Fi and any other device you need. Call us today to book.

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Photo of Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman
A multi-award winning journalist, Alex has written about consumer technology for over 20 years. He has written and edited for virtually every Australian tech publication including Gizmodo, CNET, PC Magazine, Kotaku and more.