Every parent wants to make sure that their child is healthy and a big part of that is being physically active. When I was a kid, way back in the 1970s, being a kid meant being outdoors. It was part of being a kid. I never felt so free as when I was riding my banana seat bicycle in my neighborhood that seemed as big and as important as the whole world because, well, it was my whole world.
Another reasons we spent so much time outside was because there wasn’t a whole lot to do inside.
No internet, no smartphones, no cable TV, no computers, no video games but I honestly believe I was so lucky to grow up during that time. As much as I love the gadgets I review, I love being outdoors more and I appreciate that in my lifetime I’ve been able to experience the best of both worlds. That’s why I’ve combined the two in my adulthood.
Technology is part of our lives but it should function to improve our lives, not turn us into overweight, housebound, unhealthy beings addicted to a screen.
With that in mind, several companies that make fitness trackers are turning their attention to kids. Yes, there’s a market there for them to make more money but there’s also a need because a lot of kids aren’t physically active enough. I know because I’ve had two kids that I have had to practically drag into the sunlight at times.
Garmin was one of the first companies to come out with a fitness tracker designed specifically for kids. The Vivofit Jr and now the Vivofit Jr 2 are kid friendly fitness trackers. They’re recommended for kids over 6. The stretchy band is for kids with wrist sizes up to 5.78 inches (shown below) and an adjustable band version is also available to accommodate larger wrists. Actually you can replace the kid’s strap on the Vivofit Jr with any strap that fits the adult-size Vivofit 3.
Below the Vivofit Jr 2 Available on Amazon:
|Garmin Vivofit Jr 2 BB-8 Other band styles available.
The differences between the Vivofit Jr 2 and the Vivofit 3 are strap size and a menu system that is meant to be more fun and motivating for kids. The mobile app is where a lot of the action happens because parents can set up chores and rewards and kids can unlock new creatures as they achieve those goals, almost like a video game.
Hey, I want a fitness tracker like that!
Anyway, the whole premise behind the Vivofit Jr is to motivate kids and help them be more aware of their physical activity, or lack thereof, and the impact physical activity has on their health.
Parents can also discover how active or inactive their child is and it might be an eye-opener.
The Vivofit Jr is waterproof and has a lithium battery that is supposed to last for up to one year so there’s no recharging which is a nice convenience. There’s no heart rate sensor but kids can see their step count and go through the menu of the watch using just a single button. Several fun and colorful strap designs are available for both boys and girls.
Fitbit will soon be releasing their first kids fitness tracker and it is called the Fitbit Ace. Like the Garmin Vivofit Jr is basically the Vivofit 3 in kid size with a kid friendly interface, the Fitbit Ace is basically the Fitbit Alta with kid friendly prompts and the ability for parents to log into a Fitbit family account and check on their kids progress. Family members can also compete with each other for the highest step count. The battery life is listed at about 5 days.
The retail price of the Ace is $99 which I think is a bit higher than I’d like for a kid’s fitness tracker. The Vivofit Jr goes for considerably less but it’s been out for a while.
There’s several off-brand fitness trackers that you can choose from that are less expensive and might be a good option for kids. Many are less than $30 but the straps will probably be too long for younger children and you won’t have that parental control and oversight like you have with the Garmin Vivofit Jr and Fitbit Ace.
More importantly they won’t have that fun factor that’s purposely built into a tracker that is designed specifically for kids. A smartwatch might be a good option but there’s lot of distractions on them. When the primary goal is to encourage a child to be more active and not interacting with a device all day, an Apple Watch probably isn’t the best choice.