If you're simply looking for a watch to help keep your kids entertained and on time, and you're not concerned about GPS tracking or contacting your child through the watch, this may be for you.
From a young age, kids are introduced to screens and all the ways their little fingers can work to manipulate those screens. The result? Most parents are willing to admit their children can manage their smartphones and watches even better than they can.
Naturally, it was just a matter of time before companies realized this and started making smartwatches specifically for kids.
Today, you can find countless smartwatch options for little ones. Some provide simple distractions and games, while others are equipped with communication and tracking options to keep tabs on your child even when they’re away from home. Most of these watches come equipped with apps meant to increase physical activity, and nearly all are designed in fun, bright colors.
We tested seven popular smartwatches for kids to find one that was fun, simple to navigate, and packed with features both parents and kids could appreciate. Spoiler alert: It's not the Apple Watch SE, which turned out to not be a great option for kids. In the end, there was no contest: The T Mobile SyncUp Kids(available at T-Mobile) blew the others out of the water with its features, design, and durability.
If you have younger kid who doesn't need a watch that includes any GPS tracking capabilities but does need something for telling time and playing games, the VTech KidiZoom Smartwatch (available on Amazon), fits the bill.
Here are the best kids smartwatches we tested ranked, in order:
T-Mobile SyncUp Kids
XPlora X5 Play
GizmoWatch2 by Verizon
Apple Watch SE
Vtech KidiZoom Smartwatch
Little Tikes Tobi Robot Smartwatch
T-Mobile SyncUP Kids Watch
If you’ve been looking for a kids’ smartwatch that has everything your kid wants and everything you as a parent want as well, you won’t be disappointed with the T-Mobile SyncUp Kids. From the moment we took it out of the box and set it up, our kid tester has worn it every single day.
It was incredibly easy to set up (always a plus for busy parents without much time), and the companion app is well-designed and intuitive. Right from the outset you’re prompted to set up approved contacts which limits the people with whom your child can communicate. Anyone you deem a “guardian” is also listed as an emergency contact, and, when paired with the SOS feature, enables kids to quickly reach out should they find themselves in an uncomfortable situation.
Worried that your child will spend time texting their friends and playing games during school hours? You can schedule a “school mode” during specific hours, so that your child can’t do anything except check the time when they’re supposed to be paying attention in class.
One feature that sets the SyncUp watch apart from the other watches we tested is that parents have the ability to assign daily tasks to their child. While my son complained about this and said it was “annoying”, I liked that he had to complete his piano, reading, and Mandarin homework before dismissing the task as complete.
If you’ve got an older kid who is chomping at the bit for more independence, but you’re worried about how to safely make that possible, the SyncUp enables you to track your child thanks to the built-in GPS. Our tester wore the SyncUp to a school event at the Santa Monica Pier where we set him loose with a group of friends. When we needed to find him, all we had to do was open the app to see whether he was near the Tilt-a-Whirl or the bumper cars. Knowing that we could locate him easily even in a crowd gave us peace of mind—and allowed us to enjoy some adults-only time as well.
If you’re simply looking for a watch to help keep your younger kids entertained and on time, and you’re not necessarily concerned about GPS tracking or being able to contact your child through the watch, the VTech KidiZoom Smartwatch may be for you. This well-designed watch was a hit with our kid tester, since it was equipped with a wide variety of games that could keep any child busy for hours. It is easy to set up, has some fun activity apps, and provides a lot of customization options kids love to play with. It’s also reasonably priced.
The biggest downfall for the Vtech KidiZoom is that it doesn’t come with any communication or tracking options. But so long as those aren’t options you or your child care about, this watch provides a lot of fun for a reasonable price.
I’m Leah Campbell and I’ve been working as a freelance journalist in the health and tech fields for nearly eight years now. I’ve been a contributor to Reviewed for the last two years, and I am a Forbes contributor reporting on the intersection of health and parenting. I’m also mom to my 7-year-old daughter who served as my testing partner in trialing kid smartwatches for this review.
And I'm Anna Lane. I was a comedian and freelance comedy writer for many years before joining the staff at Reviewed as the Parenting editor. I live in Los Angeles with my husband and our two children: a son who is 9-and-a-half, and a daughter who is 8. Yes, they are 18 months apart, and no, it was not planned that way. My reviews are informed by my life as a working mom who wishes she had the ability to be in two places at once.
All of our kids spent about a week with each of the watches we tested. They wore them daily, taking them along to school and their various activities, and giving us their general opinions on how fun or engaging the watches were from their point of view. We analyzed the watches for durability, battery life, and overall comfort. We further tested the watches that came with parental control apps, communication options, and GPS tracking to determine how accurate, accessible, and easy to use each of those features were.
What To Know About Smartwatches for Kids
How Will The Smartwatch Be Used?
The biggest thing to consider when choosing a smartwatch for your child is what your overall goals are.
Does your child just want a smartwatch like yours to play with? Are you hoping to help them be more responsible with a watch they can tell time with and set reminders through? Or are you looking for a safety device that will allow you to communicate directly with your child throughout the day, and pinpoint their location when necessary?
There are child smartwatch options to fulfill each of those goals, it’s just a matter of knowing what it is you are hoping to achieve with this particular purchase.
If you want your child to wear this watch throughout the day, it needs to be comfortable on their wrist. Most smartwatches designed for kids come with smooth rubber bands that fit quite comfortably, but pay attention to those made from different materials.
Durability Definitely Matters
Considering the fact that your child will have this watch on for hours every day, and that children are often playing in puddles, jumping from rocks, and engaging in other activities that could cause harm to a piece of technology, look for a watch that is built to stand up to a child’s way of living.
Does it have a waterproof rating? Is the screen crack-proof? What type of guarantee does the manufacturer make about how long the watch will last?
All of these things should impact your overall decision.
Kids Care About Entertainment
A smartwatch for your child won’t do much good if your child never wants to use it.
Make sure the watch you choose is one that comes with plenty of fun apps and customization options to keep you child engaged and interested beyond just the first day the package is opened.
Other Smartwatches for Kids We Tested
Xplora X5 Play
The XPlora X5 Play watch looks a lot like the OG digital watches from the 1980s. There are no exciting design elements here, just a basic black watch with a big black face. While I found the single color look boring, our 7-year-old tester loved it and consistently chose to wear it over the more colorful kid-looking options.
The face on the XPlora X5 is really large—it looked huge on our tester’s small wrist—but instead of complaining that it was too big, she pointed out that it’s both easier to read and easier to use since you’re not trying to hit buttons on a small screen.
The companion app for the XPlora is fantastic, especially with regards to the geo fencing safety feature. You can easily set “safe zones” that will trigger a text message to the parent when the child gets outside the boundaries. My only complaint about this feature is that the smallest radius available is 300 feet, which, if one lives in a large metropolitan area like we do, can mean your child could be crossing busy streets without your supervision. That being said, I did appreciate that I got a text message from the watch the second my daughter left her safe zone (don’t worry, she was in the car with me).
Another feature where the Xplora X5 stands out is with the parent notifications. Every time your child receives a text message, voice call, or video call, the parent gets a notification on their own phone detailing who communicated with the watch. With the other smartwatches we tested a parent has to open the app to gain access to information about past calls and text messages.
The only other minor complaint we had about the Xplora X5 is that it initially showed up on my phone as "spam" when our tester would (repeatedly) call me. I suspect this is more the fault of my cellphone carrier rather than the X5, and once I programmed the number into my contacts as "X5 smartwatch" it solved the issue, but it's worth noting nonetheless.
The second iteration of the Verizon GizmoWatch has a lot going for it: a fun design kids will be proud to wear, lots of exciting games to play with, and best of all, parent options and controls that really make this watch stand out above the rest.
Through the GizmoWatch parental control app (which is synced with the watch easily via a smartphone) parents can set privacy and security options, including who their child is allowed to contact and receive contacts from while using the watch. The watch itself is also GPS enabled, with the wearer’s location being tracked on the home screen of the parental control app—making this watch not only a fun entertainment provider, but also a safety device that can help parents locate their children in a variety of circumstances.
The GizmoWatch2 comes with a sleek and well-calibrated screen that is easy to use, even for adult fingers. It can be comfortably worn all day, is simple to set up, and comes with some fun activity apps to help get kids moving outdoors.
The one downfall some parents may find with the GizmoWatch2 is that service for the GPS and communication options can only be established through Verizon.
If you're purchasing the Apple Watch SE with the intention of setting it up for a child, learn from my mistake: You need to have a model with GPS + cellular in order to "assign" it to a child. I ended up spending upwards of an hour getting the watch all set up before finally being notified that it wouldn't work unless it was a different model (#FAIL). This wasn't made clear on the Apple site, so we ended up having to purchase a second Apple Watch in order to effectively test the watch with a child.
Our testers were really excited to test the Apple Watch SE, but that's where the excitement ended. After testing the other watches that were designed just for kids, we all agreed that the Apple Watch SE doesn't have the features that appeal to younger kids, and that it was actually difficult for them to navigate it. If you have a tween or teenager who has an iPhone and is used to the quirks of an Apple device, the Apple Watch SE may be a good choice for them, but if they already have a phone, they likely don't really need a watch, too.
By far my biggest complaint about the Apple Watch is that no matter what I did and how many settings I adjusted, I couldn't get the location tracking to work. For me, the main point of giving my kids smartwatches is so that I can keep track of where they are—thereby allowing them more freedom and independence—so not being able to use this feature essentially rendered the watch completely pointless.
The Spacetalk Adventurer seemed really promising: it’s cute, it’s colorful, and its features include GPS and fitness trackers. Unfortunately, this smartwatch gave us problems from the get go. The first watch we received wouldn’t charge, and we were only able to use it for a day before the half charge that it came with ran out.
The replacement watch we received didn’t have issues charging, but it wouldn’t connect to the wireless network despite a new SIM card being properly installed and activated. A quick search on the internet revealed that we weren’t the only ones experiencing issues with the Spacetalk Adventurer—quite a few customers posted about having the exact same issues we did.
We also encountered problems with the design and build quality of the Spacetalk. It's difficult to insert or remove the SIM card without first removing the watch straps, and you need a special small plastic tool in order to do that easily. The Spacetalk came with the required tool, but it promptly got lost, so I ended up having to use a butter knife for subsequent strap removals. But here's the kicker: the spot where one of the straps connected to the watch face broke off of the replacement watch before our testers got a chance to wear it. Overall, the Spacetalk Adventurer was an epic fail.
The problems with the Spacetalk were disappointing, because the companion app is well designed and it’s easy for parents to set up approved contacts. The GPS tracker worked well during the short time that we were able to use the watch, and the quality of the phone calls to and from the watch were good.
This watch is super fun and interactive. Of all the watches tested, it probably had the most engaging games and activity apps to play with. That’s about where the wins for the Little Tikes Tobi Robot Smartwatch ended, though. Like the TickTalk3, it had a less than comfortable band and also seemed poorly constructed, with a watch face that wasn’t actually attached to the band and could instead be easily popped in and out. This made for a cheap design feel and a watch that seems as though it could be easily lost or damaged.
While it came with plenty of fun special features, it was the least aesthetically pleasing watch that was tested, and didn’t seem like it would last very long after purchase.
Prior to joining Reviewed as the Parenting Editor, Anna worked as a stand-up comedian and freelance writer. A graduate of New York University, Anna currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.
Leah Campbell is a writer and editor living in Anchorage, Alaska. As a single mother by choice through adoption, she is passionate about any tech that makes her life easier to manage. Find more from Leah on her website.
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