July 27, 2020
Kids smartwatches are rising in popularity. It is being called the smartphone alternative, the cyber seat belt, and the best first device. The rise of kids safety smartwatches can be attributed to parents' growing interest in limiting screen time and giving their kids more freedom to roam the neighborhood while still keeping them safe.
With multiple brands to choose from—each boasting a different design and various functions—finding the right kids smartwatch for your child is a personal decision.
That’s why we’ve put together the definitive guide to the best kids smartwatches. If you’re ready to invest in a smartwatch for your child but have no idea where to start, our guide is here to ease your shopping experience.
Until now, you may not have been able to contact your 7 year-old any time you wanted. Without a cell phone, your young children are effectively unreachable if they're out of earshot. This is one reason parents of younger kids consider getting their child a smartphone. Unfortunately, smartphones come with security and safety concerns for younger kids—who is calling them, how hard is it to restrict their access to social media or adult material, etc.
Parents facing this dilemma have had no choice but to reach for cell phones in recent years—that is, until now.
A kids smartwatch offers two-way communication without any of the unnecessary (and sometimes unsafe) extras that come with a smartphone. Some watches are limited to voice calls, while others also include SMS texting, voice chats, and video calling.
Keep in mind that a SIM card and data plan are required for any of these features to work. Finding a network provider can be an ordeal in and of itself, so opting for a smartwatch with a built-in SIM and accompanying data plan just makes sense.
You’ll also want to go with a model that allows you to control the watch’s contacts. A secure phonebook, which blocks calls to/from strangers, is definitely the way to go. Limiting two-way communication to trusted contacts is especially important for young children. A model without internet connectivity or social media access will also prevent kids from accessing sites they’re not ready for yet.
Let’s face it: Children can get into all kinds of trouble. A little mischief is usually nothing to worry about, but what about when your child is faced with real danger? SOS mode to the rescue! With the push of a button, your child's smartwatch instantly calls the emergency contacts you created.
Some smartwatches for kids also allow you to set up additional SOS contacts. For example, when SOS mode is activated on the COSMO Smartwatch, it automatically triggers voice recording, so that you can hear exactly what is going on. Models that have GPS tracking help you to instantly find your child if the SOS mode is activated, so you can get to them as quickly as possible. Video calling may also be a helpful option in an emergency, so you can quickly see what’s happening.
Another universal truth when it comes to kids: sometimes they break stuff. A tough device that can withstand rough handling may be a good choice. Look for a wristband made from durable material, such as silica gel, which is not only strong but is comfortable to wear as well.
The casing should be able to absorb impact from humans and hard surfaces without falling apart. Also, consider water-resistant devices, especially for small children who may jump in the pool or bathtub without taking it off!
When shopping, choose a smartwatch brand that stands behind its products. What guarantees do they offer? Do they have a replacement policy?
A durable kids smartwatch that can stand up to hard-wearing use is easier to identify when a company is confident enough to offer a quality guarantee.
Long battery life is a must-have feature. The watch must store a charge for as long as possible, so that you can communicate with your children at any time of day. Kids don’t always remember when they need to charge a device—or to bring their charger to school, a friend’s house, etc. And unlike an adult, they can’t rely on having an extra charger in their car. So it’s very important to choose a device with long battery life.
When buying a new smartwatch, be sure to follow the initial charging instructions before your first use, to avoid damaging the battery. Then make sure to charge the watch every night so that it is ready to use the next day.
Operating a smartwatch should be as simple as A-B-C for kids. A simple watch will make your children less dependent on you whenever they need to use it. (Simple smartwatches are also beneficial if it turns out your child is better at using technology than you are.) Ensure that the watch has a large display screen that the child can read easily during the day and at night.
Child-friendly buttons are also essential—they can make the difference between a kid’s safety and danger when they need to call for help. Emergency or SOS buttons should be very easy to reach and use. Additionally, the wristband should be wide enough and comfortable for young children to wear. Stretchable or adjustable bands may come in handy as your child grows.
Introducing your kids to an active lifestyle at a young age has long-lasting benefits. And a smartwatch is the perfect little helper when it comes to tracking and encouraging fitness!
The best models come equipped with diverse health apps, such as a pedometer, sleep tracker, or activity monitor, among others. If your kids are not particularly thrilled with the fitness aspect, consider devices that offer reward points to wearers when they complete certain challenges. Your child may be more interested in increasing their steps if they’re working towards earning a fun reward.
A majority of kids smartwatches have a recommended age specified by the manufacturer. These age ranges are meant to help parents select the most appropriate watch for their kid with functions that will be helpful. Some watches have features that will be of no use to toddlers but are great for older children. To avoid wasting money, check for the age range before purchasing.
Remember that a kids smartwatch is a better alternative to a cell phone for kids in this age range (5-11 years). Children this age aren’t ready for the world of social media or unsupervised internet browsing, but can sometimes find a way around parental control apps. A smartwatch that blocks these features will help keep them safe, while allowing them to communicate with parents and other approved contacts only.
Smartwatches with built-in GPS tracking are ideal for kids who have to leave the house regularly. The built-in GPS tracker for kids lets parents monitor their child’s real-time movement, whether they are at school or on a playdate.
You can also schedule regular check-ins that will update you on your child’s location at specific intervals.
Some watches go further than regular GPS tracking and offer geo-fencing as well. “Geo-fencing” may sound complicated, but it simply allows you to set up safe zones, such as around your house or your child’s school.
If Billy or Susie wander away from their expected route, the watch will ping your smartphone with an alert. You can then call, text, or video chat with your child to find out where they are and why they left the safe zone.
Buying a smartwatch for children is usually the parents’ idea. Slapping the nifty gizmo on your child’s wrist can provide a sense of calmness for whenever you’re apart.
However, it is important to get your child’s buy-in, so that they will be excited to wear the watch after your purchase. If your child is older, involve them in the shopping process and ask them about the features they would like to have. In the event that you just choose a watch and they don’t like it, they may end up “forgetting” to wear it. This in turns defeats the purpose of having a way to contact your child at all times!
Fortunately most children will accept wearing a smartwatch when they participate in the selection and purchase of it. It becomes something they actually want to wear and show off rather than a tool forced upon them by their parents. Many smartwatches for children come with choices of different colors, patterns, or faceplates. Often children like brightly colored watches and will enjoy wearing them.
Kids smartwatches are becoming the norm rather than an exception for parents who care about the safety of their children. Buying your child a smartwatch that they love wearing will help keep them safe whenever they leave the house.
There is nothing more important than protecting your child. By investing in a smartwatch specifically designed for kids, you’re adding a powerful instrument to your parenting toolkit.
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