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The best smartwatches for kids, according to parents

Parents and parenting experts recommend these best smartwatches for kids that track location, set activity goals, send text messages, and more.
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer
Reviewed by Nina Raemont
Apple Watch SE | Best smartwatch for kids overall
apple-watch-se2-2
Apple Watch SE
Best smartwatch for kids overall
View now View at Amazon
Fitbit Ace 3 | Best fitness smartwatch for kids
fitbit-ace.jpg
Fitbit Ace 3
Best fitness smartwatch for kids
View now View at Walmart
Vtech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX3 | Best smartwatch for kids to take photos
Pink Vtech Kidizoom DX3 smartwatch with a cat animation on its screen
Vtech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX3
Best smartwatch for kids to take photos
View now View at Amazon
Garmin Vivofit Jr. 3 | Best smartwatch for kids who want to play games
An electric yellow Garmin Vivovit Jr. 3 smartwatch with the time on its screen
Garmin Vivofit Jr. 3
Best smartwatch for kids who want to play games
View now View at Walmart
TickTalk 4 | Best smartwatch for keeping in touch
Blue kids smartwatch with colorful icons on its screen
TickTalk 4
Best smartwatch for keeping in touch
View now View at Amazon
Garmin Bounce | Best GPS smartwatch for kids
Green Garmin smartwatch with game options on its screen
Garmin Bounce
Best GPS smartwatch for kids
View now View at Garmin
Show more (1 item)

Kids are growing up with advanced technology more than ever before. By the time they are toddlers, they know how to use a smartphone, watch videos, and play games on a tablet. Studies show that 42% of kids have a phone by age 10. But if you'd rather them wait to have a smartphone until they are older, a smartwatch for kids is a great introductory piece of tech that can keep them entertained with games and keep you at ease with features like location tracking and chore reminders.

Also: Want a tablet for your kid? Our picks aren't just for entertainment

Smartwatches keep you in touch with your kids via messaging and often offer real-time location information so you know where they are at all times. In addition, many kids' smartwatches also have parental controls so you can keep track of things like screen time. 

What is the best smartwatch for kids right now?

I rounded up the best kids' smartwatch options for little ones, bigger kids, active youngsters, and children in general based on real-life parent and expert recommendations. My top pick is the Apple Watch SE, but I also included options from Garmin, Vtech, and more.

The best kids' smartwatches of 2024

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Walkie-talkie function
  • GPS
  • Kids don't need a phone for it
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Only supports iPhones
More Details

A smartwatch list wouldn't be complete without an Apple Watch. While it's not made specifically for kids, the Apple Watch SE is an excellent smartwatch for older kids with standout features plus parental controls. Along with enabling phone calls and text messages, the Apple Watch SE tracks your child's sleep, has state-of-the-art health trackers, features an SOS capability, and pairs with thousands of apps.

Also: Apple Watch SE vs Apple Watch Series 7: Which should you get?

Victoria Taylor, a parent, teacher, and founder of BestCaseParenting.com, told ZDNET that her kids use an Apple Watch SE and love the many features. 

"It is easy to use, with access to apps, games, and more," she said. "The Health app also makes it easy to track activity levels and sleep patterns, helping parents stay in the know about their child's health."

In addition, you can utilize Apple's Family Setup to check your kid's location, set up shared contacts, implement parental controls like screen time usage, and more. They don't even need their own iPhone to have an Apple Watch -- they can pair it up with yours, so you're fully in control. 

This smartwatch is recommended for older kids who are ten and above. Plus, verified customers like that their kids can pick their favorite band thanks to Apple's wide selection. 

Apple Watch SE features: GPS | SOS feature | Offers parental control 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Tracks sleep
  • Makes exercising fun
  • Up to 8-day battery life
Cons
  • No support for phone calls
  • Smaller screen
  • Black and white screen instead of color
More Details

One way to ease your kids into the world of smartwatches is to start with a fitness tracker, which can also get them to move more as a bonus. The Fitbit Ace 3 is a kids' smartwatch with an animated clock face and fun band colors. With up to eight days of battery life, it tracks your child's movement and sleep and reminds them when it's time for bed.

The Fitbit Ace 3 allows your kid to participate in fun fitness challenges where they can compete with friends, siblings, cousins, or even you to earn virtual badges if they win. Verified customers say this watch is perfect for kids ages six and above. 

Theresa Bertuzzi, Chief Program Development Officer and Co-founder of Tiny Hoppers, said that the Fitbit Ace 3 is the perfect smartwatch for younger kids thanks to its fun incentives to get moving. 

"The Fitbit Ace 3 even allows the parent to set up fitness challenges and keep track of their child's sleep, steps, and activity, all through Bluetooth connection to their smartphone," she said. "Therefore, if you have any concerns about how your child uses the watch, you can keep a close eye." 

Bertuzzi added that fitness tracking should be fun, and if it becomes obsessive, consider opting for a different watch. 

Fitbit Ace 3 features: 8 days of battery life | Allows kids to participate in fun fitness challenges | Tracks sleep

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Calendar and calculator to help kids learn math
  • Parents can send reminders to watch
  • Fun camera with filters
Cons
  • Doesn't support texting or calling
  • No GPS
More Details

If your little one is obsessed with taking photos on your phone, they'll love the Vtech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX3. This watch has dual cameras that capture pictures and videos, adding effects like stamps, frames, and filters. Kids can set their clock face to a photo they took or choose from over 50 animated ones.

This smartwatch also lets kids share preset messages with friends or siblings who also have a Vtech watch, and they can play games with them as well. 

Bertuzzi said this is the best smartwatch for kids today because of its affordability and multiplayer games. 

"I really think it has all the fun features that will make your child actually want to wear it, plus functional features like a notification system to remind them when it's time to do chores," she said. "Plus, if you are worried about your child using it at school or daycare, you can turn the watch on to 'School mode' so it only shows the time."

The parental controls allow you to give your kid daily reminders, like when it's time to do chores or when they've reached their screen time limit. This smartwatch is recommended for kids aged four years old and above.

Vtech Kidizoom DX3 features: Takes pictures | Added effects like stamps and filters | Parental controls include chore reminders and screen time limits

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Long battery life
  • Lots of band design options, including Marvel and Disney Princess
  • Color display
  • Fun features
Cons
  • No phone or text capabilities
  • No camera
  • Could use more game variety
More Details

Kids who enjoy playing games will like this smartwatch option. The Vivofit Jr. 3 from Garmin lets your child unlock games and activities based on their daily activity time. Once they reach their goal, they can play a game from their watch.

The Vivofit Jr. 3 has great parent features, as well. Parents can schedule reminders for chores and other tasks from their phones so their kid receives them on the watch, letting them know that playtime is over and it's time to clean up. 

Mark Joseph, a father of three and founder of Parentalqueries.com, told ZDNET this is his preferred smartwatch for his kids based on the combination of features for the price. "The watch comes with a one-year subscription to its app, allowing me to set daily goals and rewards for my kids when they accomplish them," he said. 

Reddit users also praised the parental controls on the Vivofit Jr. 3, saying they can easily track who their kids are talking to online and block any contacts they deem unsuitable. This smartwatch is best for kids ages 4-7 years old.

Garmin Vivofit Jr. 3 features: Unlock games based on daily activity time | Parents can schedule chore reminders | Set playtime limits

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Lots of different ways to communicate
  • GPS tracking to keep your eye on your little one
  • Parent-controlled reminders
Cons
  • Bulky design
More Details

If you're not quite ready to get your kids a smartphone but still want to stay in touch during the day, the TickTalk 4 allows phone and video calls and text messaging. 

The smartwatch has two 5MP cameras for taking pictures and video calling to talk to your child face-to-face. Other great features verified customers noted they liked include GPS tracking, activity tracking, and unlimited access to kid-friendly songs and podcasts via iHeartRadio. 

Bertuzzi said this watch is a great option for those willing to shell out a few extra bucks. "It has many similar features [to the Vtech Kidizoom DX3], plus voice calling and text capabilities when connected to Wi-Fi or Cellular, which can be super helpful for parents who need to contact their children after school." 

The TickTalk4 is best suited for kids ages 5-12 years old. 

TickTalk 4 features: 20+ parental controls | AT&T network compatible | Free unlimited streaming music

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Color touchscreen display
  • Low monthly cost
  • Loaded with features and tracking
Cons
  • Battery life isn't the best
More Details

The Garmin Bounce includes communication features, health and sleep monitoring, games, and more, along with real-time location tracking. Regarding tracking, parents can use location tracking on the Bounce to view their child's current whereabouts in the Garmin app and receive notifications when they leave pre-approved areas.

Mo Mulla, a father and founder of Parental Questions, especially likes the Garmin Bounce's sleep-tracking ability for his restless sleepers. "It has a built-in sensor that measures and records their heart rate, skin temperature, and other metrics which can be used to give insights about their sleep patterns," he said. "The watch also includes alarms for when it's time to go to bed or wake up and alerting parents when their children are not getting enough rest."

In addition, LTE connectivity (which you can purchase from Garmin for $10 per month) lets you have two-way texting and voice messaging with your kid for up to 20 parent-approved contacts. 

Other health metrics include steps and active minutes to monitor your growing child's health. Plus, parents who purchased this Garmin watch liked the activity-related games within the watch so kids could unlock rewards for meeting their activity goals or completing chores.

Garmin Bounce features: Two-day battery life | Real-time tracking | $10 per month

What is the best smartwatch for kids?

We chose the Apple Watch SE as the best smartwatch for kids. It has fantastic features that kids will love, like walkie-talkie mode. Plus, parents can rest easy because the watch is GPS-enabled, and you don't have to get your child an iPhone to use it. 

However, it isn't the only option available. This table can help you compare the best smartwatches for kids based on price and unique features:

Kids' smartwatch

Price

Special features

Apple Watch SE

$249

Walkie-talkie function; GPS; kids don't need a phone to use it 

Fitbit Ace 3

$60

Tracks sleep; makes exercise fun; 8-day battery life

Vtech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX3

$60

Fun camera with filters; parents can send chore reminders and set screen time limits

Garmin Vivofit Jr. 3

$90

Long battery life; ample band design options; color display

TickTalk 4

$199

Phone and video calls; text messaging; GPS tracking

Garmin Bounce

$200

Real-time location tracking; communication features; health tracking; activity games

Which smartwatch for kids is right for you?

It depends on your budget and purposes for giving your child a smartwatch. If you want them to exercise more, the Fitbit Ace 3 is a wise option. 

Meanwhile, the Vtech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX3 is fantastic for taking pictures. And with a starting price of $60, it's budget-friendly. Overall, this buying tree can help you make sense of all the best options available:

Choose this kids' smartwatch…

If you want...

Apple Watch SE

The best overall smartwatch for kids. If your family already uses Apple products, this smartwatch is a worthy investment that will last years for your child.

Fitbit Ace 3

A kids' smartwatch for fitness tracking that will motivate them to move. It has 8 days of battery life to keep up with your little one.

Vtech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX3

Your kid to take pictures with a smartwatch. Kids can add effects like stamps, frames, and filters. 

Garmin Vivofit Jr. 3

A smartwatch for kids with built-in games. It also has great customizable parental controls. 

Little Tikes Tobi 2 Robot Smartwatch

A smartwatch to keep you in contact with your little one. It offers voice and video calling, as well as text messaging through the AT&T Network. 

Garmin Bounce

Real-time location tracking built into your kids' smartwatch. It also has impressive sleep-tracking data.

Factors to consider when choosing a smartwatch for kids:

Before buying a smartwatch for your child, be sure to pay attention to the following factors: 

Privacy: Keeping your child's information and data is of the utmost importance with any tech device, so look at smartwatches with privacy features like encryption, parental controls, and two-way communication so you can contact your child if need be. 

Battery life: A smartwatch serves little purpose if it's out of battery, seek out devices with long battery lives so you don't have to constantly recharge. 

Price: These smartwatches can range dramatically in price, but most products are under at least $250. 

How did we choose these smartwatches for kids?

To make our top picks, ZDNET looked at the various smartwatches for kids available on the market today and chose these top picks based on brand reliability, price, kid-friendly features, and customer reviews. We also talked to parents and parenting/early childhood education experts who have experience with each of these watches. 

What features should I look for in kids' smartwatches?

It really depends on what you're looking for and how old your child is. 

Bertuzzi said if your child is between 5 and 10 years old, opting for a cheaper watch with basic features should be sufficient to gauge if they even like wearing one. 

"However, you may want to prioritize GPS and emergency calling features for your child, so you can stay up to date on their location and have peace of mind that they know how to call for help," she added. 

Additionally, Bertuzzi said she recommends trying on a few different brands and bands to find the best fit for your child with all the functions your family needs. 

Are smartwatches for kids safe?

Similar to any device, there can be security vulnerabilities with smartwatches. However, with responsible use and monitoring, you can negate these threats. You can achieve this by limiting app permissions and setting time limits for use through parental control, teaching them responsible internet behaviors by keeping personal information private, and encouraging them to come to you if they encounter any issues. 

Do you need a phone plan for kids' smartwatches?

In general, you will need some kind of phone plan if you plan on having your kid use things like voice calling, GPS trackers, or other features like text messaging. 

While your kid usually won't need a phone (you can connect the smartwatch to yours), you'll find many brands of kids' smartwatches that will charge you monthly for more advanced features.

Are there alternative kids' smartwatch options to consider?

There are a lot of options on the market when it comes to smartwatches for kids, and you obviously want the best fit for your little ones. Here are some other trustworthy kids' smartwatches to look into:

View at VerizonView at WalmartView at Amazon

Meet the experts

ZDNET sourced external industry experts for this article. Here is more information about them:

  • Victoria Taylor: She's a parent, early childhood teacher of 13 years, and founder of BestCaseParenting.com, which provides tips and advice to parents of young children. 
  • Theresa Bertuzzi: A former kindergarten teacher turned Chief Program Development Officer and Co-founder of Tiny Hoppers, an award-winning childhood education center. 
  • Mark Joseph: A father of three and founder of Parentalqueries.com, who has over five years experience as a parenting coach. 
  • Mo Mulla: A father and a lawyer with a degree from UCL London who writes his parenting tips from a dad's perspective in his spare time at Parental Questions, a family-run blog.
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