This content originally appeared on Mashable for a US audience and has been adapted for the UK audience.
Many parents are cautious about giving smartphones to their kids. And rightly so. It opens up a whole world of safety concerns: cyber bullying, excessive screen time, and those dark corners of the internet that just aren’t child-friendly. But that doesn’t mean you have to cut your kids off from smart tech entirely. Enter: smartwatches for kids.
There are various benefits to equipping your little one with a smartwatch. Keeping your kids active and being able to monitor their whereabouts, for instance. For kids, the freedom that comes with having their very own connected device — and potentially more leniency when it comes to doing things unsupervised — is priceless.
But, much like smartwatches for adults, different watches are designed to do different things, with various features to keep your kids exercised, engaged, and entertained. Here’s a helpful guide for parents.
Do kids really need a smartwatch?
That’s a question that can only be answered by each individual parent. But it’s worth knowing some of the bonuses of giving your kids a smartwatch. Some kids’ smartwatches (though not all) have a GPS, so you can keep tabs on where they are. There might be a messaging function too, so you can contact your kids at any time.
Many kids’ smartwatches are focused of physical activity — they actually encourage kids to get up and move. Kids can check their step count for the day or get a reminder to stand up for a few minutes, but the most fun part is easily the on-screen celebration when a daily activity or sleep goal is met.
Settings can be tweaked in the parent app, but having a kid set their own alarms or follow their own activity rules could be a great way to assume some responsibility. Some watches allow you to set reminders for things such as homework, brushing their teeth, or bedtime.
Activities that are typically mundane are suddenly a lot more fun when animated celebrations, badges, or sibling leaderboard competitions are involved (and when a parent isn’t doing the nagging). When healthy habits are established early, they can carry over into adulthood, when deep-rooted bad habits are typically harder to kick.
Can kids access social media on a smartwatch?
It will come as a relief to some parents that kids’ smartwatches aren’t just great for what they can do, but what they can’t do as well. Unlike smartwatches for adults, kids’ smartwatches don’t promote social media sharing and usually don’t have the option to get on the internet at all. That means these little devices are better at encouraging movement, responsibility, and routine than obsessively checking notifications.
Do kids’ smartwatches have entertainment features?
A smartwatch might be replacing the need for a whole phone or tablet, but that doesn’t mean entertainment is completely off the table. Some watches geared towards younger children have games including number challenges and augmented reality mysteries.
At what age should kids have their own smartwatch?
There’s no set rule or guidelines but smartwatches are generally made for ages of 6 and above. Different watches are geared towards different ages, and will included age-specific features. The wrist band will be a big clue. If it’s brightly coloured and covered in Spider-Man or Frozen characters, it’s probably for younger kids.
What is the best smartwatch for kids?
We’ve lined up a selection of excellent smartwatches for kids from top brands like Fitbit and Garmin. There’s something for everyone and every budget in this list.
There are the best smartwatches for kids in 2023.