If you’re keen to hold off buying a feature phone or smartphone for your children, it may be worth considering another tech option. The best kids smartwatches and activity trackers tend to be cheaper than smartphones, but they also offer great peace-of-mind features and, sometimes, fun games for your kids, too.
What to Look for in a Kids Smartwatch or Tracker
What are kids smartwatches and activity trackers?
Regular smartwatches and activity trackers tend to be targeted at adult users. This means they tend to cost more and aren’t built with younger users (or wrist sizes) in mind. On the other hand, kids smartwatches and activity trackers tend to be cheaper than regular alternatives and also have inbuilt features that consider both parents and young users.
Treat activity trackers as cheaper, entry-level wearables, while smartwatches usually offer additional functionality albeit at a higher cost. Kids smartwatches, for instance, may include some or all of the following features:
- GPS tracking
- Cameras (for video calls and photos)
- Call and text functionality
- Parent-controlled contact lists
- SOS alerts
Meanwhile, kids activity trackers won’t include cameras, SOS alerts, or call and text functionality, but they should have:
- Sleep quality tracking
- Friend activity challenges
- Parental controls
Note that kids smartwatches may include some or all of the features you’ll find with an activity tracker.
What should I look for in a kids smartwatch or activity tracker?
It really depends on which features are most important to you. If you want to save money and have a way for your kids to track activity, sleep quality, and challenge their friends with daily fitness challenges, start with an activity tracker. Note that both the Australian Government and World Health Organization recommend 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day for kids.
For parents who care more about keeping track of their kids without buying a wearable, consider something like the NutTAG Seek GPS for Kids. It lets you track the user with a companion app, plus it also offers geofence alerts. For your kid, the Seek GPS has an emergency SOS button and voice calling with a preinstalled SIM card.
Admittedly, the Seek GPS is about as pricey as high-end kids smartwatches, so consider one of those instead for more versatility. Better kids smartwatches bundle the features of an activity tracker with the versatility of a wearable phone, albeit one with parent-controlled contacts.
Kids smartwatches may be more fully featured than activity trackers, but that enhanced functionality comes with a taxing cost on battery life. The Fitbit Ace 3, for example, is an activity tracker that has up to eight days of battery life. Conversely, the Moochies Connect 4G might only last a day or two (and the manufacturer recommends 10+ hours of overnight charging). If you don’t want to be constantly charging these devices, a kids activity tracker is the better choice.
How much do kids smartwatches and activity trackers cost?
If you’re after a kids activity tracker, you can pick one up for under $100. Our favourite activity tracker for kids, the Fitbit Ace 3, retails for $99 but can be found cheaper. Once you get closer to the $200 mark, that’s where you’ll start finding the kids smartwatches that we’d recommend, though you can start out with a VTech smartwatch for under $100.
We really like the Moochies Connect 4G kids smartwatch, which offers a great mix of durability, parental features, and activity tracking. You can find one for around $150. You’ll have to double the budget for our top pick, though: the Spacetalk Adventurer. It’s like an upgraded version of the Moochies smartwatch, and it retails for around $350 (but you can find it cheaper online).
After this price point, you’re really starting to look at smartphones and activity trackers that are built for adults. If you do go down that path, we’d recommend looking at the Apple Watch SE and the Samsung Galaxy Watch range. Bear in mind that the LTE versions allow for call and text functionality but they also cost more than the base WiFi models.
Speaking of call and text costs, you’re going to want to pair a smartwatch that’s capable of calls and texts with a mobile plan. Note that some smartwatches use physical nano SIMs while others use digital eSIMs, the latter of which is only offered by certain telcos. Instant messaging and GPS tracking won’t use up much data but video calls will use more. We’d recommend choosing a prepaid or SIM-only mobile plan with at least 2GB of data.
Below is a daily updating list of popular prepaid plans with at least 1GB of data that don’t cost more than $20 a month.
And here’s a list of popular SIM-only plans with at least 2GB of data that are $20 or below.
What brands of kids smartwatches and activity trackers are there in Australia?
There are a few popular brands for kids smartwatches and activity trackers in Australia:
- Pixbee activity trackers and smartwatches
- VTech smartwatches
- Fitbit activity trackers
- Garmin activity trackers
- Moochies smartwatches
- Spacetalk smartwatches
The ordering above is reflective of retail prices, with Pixbee starting at around $70 for its activity trackers and Spacetalk smartwatches typically costing around $349.