Has your child got a fitness tracker on their present wish list? Our reviewers share their expert buyers' advice to help you pick out the best models on the market.
It can be tricky deciding whether a fitness tracker will be fun and useful for your child, and then even harder to decide which one to buy. We asked our expert reviewers to test 11 kids' trackers by wearing each one for a day, and going for a run in them as well. We asked the reviewers to look for ease of set-up, range of functions, style, accuracy, reliability (battery life, for example), fun add-ons and value for money.
What is a fitness tracker?
Fitness trackers are a great way to get the whole family active, but It’s not just about steps and so we recommend using a tracker to complement a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and plenty of exercise. Whatever your child’s hobbies and interests, it’s important they’re balanced against a positive and accepting body image. You may also want to assess whether the tracker is used just at home or during family activities, to avoid it becoming a distraction at school or at other times.
Usually worn as a wristwatch, fitness trackers do things like counting your daily steps, totting up active minutes and buzzing to remind you to move if you’ve been sedentary for too long. Kids' versions might be more basic in terms of functions but they often feature fun games to encourage wearers to be active. Here's what we found out...
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The best fitness trackers for children
Our 13-year-old tester announced that this was the best of the lot – even though it was far from being the most expensive. For kids who take sport seriously, this hits the mark – you can see your heart rate and steps without breaking your stride, simply by flicking your wrist. It’s not only for budding athletes, however; if your child is spending too long on a tablet, for instance, this will prompt them to move after a pre-set period, with a gentle vibration and a symbol of a person rising from a chair. It’s secured to the wrist with two studs, so it shouldn’t fall off – but if it does, you can use an anti-lost tracker to locate it. Distance tracking was accurate and the app was easy to download. The whole thing was out of the box and charged within 15 minutes.
ReimaGo activity tracker
Best for increasing activity
This fitness tracker stands out from the rest as it’s an activity sensor that kids can slip into a pocket, wear on their wrist or slot into the supplied arm strap. It's about the size of a £1 coin and it doesn’t need charging – great for forgetful youngsters. On first use, the battery is easily activated by shaking and pressing for 10 seconds. The really clever thing about this gadget is that if kids hit their daily activity targets (which can be set by the user or their parents), they'll be rewarded with cool images displayed on the app. Parents can check the app to see what’s been achieved that day in terms of steps and activity time. It’s ideal for primary-age kids and will keep users keen to smash their daily targets.
Garmin Vívofit Jr. 2 activity tracker
Best for getting kids active
Want your child to be active and remember to clean out the hamster cage, too? This tracker, which comes in a choice of designs, including Minnie Mouse, Star Wars and Spider-Man, is designed to encourage your little one to be a helpful – and busy – little soul. Upping their number of steps and completing active minutes will unlock quests as your child becomes a superhero aiming to complete a mission. You can also set them chores, from brushing teeth to clearing the table, earning virtual coins to put towards a real-life treat. Using an engaging app, kids can customise the tracker with a choice of images and add their name under the time display. The eye-catching straps are secure and will fit around even the smallest of wrists (the tracker is suited to kids aged six and over). It's a simple set-up for young minds to quickly get to grips with.
Antimi IP67 waterproof fitness tracker
Best for teenagers
If you’re facing a pester power onslaught from an older child or teen pleading for a fitness tracker, this gadget could be the answer. It won’t disappoint with its array of functions. Our young tester found the pedometer spot on, while the distance recorded for walks, runs and bike rides seemed just as accurate; we also liked that the watch sent notifications of incoming messages. The not-so-subtle nudge to remind you to stop chillin’ and start moving – an image of a figure standing up – was an appreciated feature, too. The strap is easily pulled apart so the battery can be slotted directly into a USB port for charging; we found the battery lasted several days even after only an hour powering up. It’s waterproof, too, so no drama if left on while showering. For the price, it’s a good-value entry into the world of trackers.
VTech Kidizoom DX2 smartwatch
Best for young children
Not only will this device keep young bodies active, it'll hopefully engage their brains, too. Once charged, the set-up prompts are simple to follow. Like other trackers, it records steps (fairly accurately) but, as it’s aimed at those aged between four and 12 years old, it also boasts many fun challenges powered by activity – such as, how many steps can be done running on the spot for 15 seconds? As for brain training, that’s offered with logic and other puzzles. Our tester loved exploring numerous ways to personalise this device, especially using the Silly Yourself app, which adds filters to alter selfie photos taken by the tracker. A chugging train, a rocket or an elephant stomping when kids swing their arms while walking are just some of the inspired ways this gadget keeps users moving and entertained.
For products mentioned in this review, various retailers have been suggested by our affiliate partner Monetizer 101 and are not suggested or chosen by BBC Good Food. For more information on how these retailers are selected and the nature of our partnership, please read the Monetizer101 FAQ page.
If you are looking for more ways to get your child excited about sports, check out our guide on how to host a sports day for kids as well as advice on a balanced diet for school children and a balanced diet for teenagers.
This review was last updated in November 2018. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.