9 best smartwatches for kids that have games, cameras and trackers

We clock the coolest wrist tech for keeping kids safe and active

Rebecca Miles
Monday 10 May 2021 12:29
<p>There are plenty of age-appropriate options to choose from</p>

There are plenty of age-appropriate options to choose from

If you wear a smartwatch, the chances are your child will want to wear a smartwatch too. And the good news is, there are lots of age-appropriate options to choose from. 

At the younger end of the age range are smartwatches that are very much toys first. They most likely have a camera and games, and often have a basic pedometer too. They’re great for playing with and encouraging little ones to learn to tell the time. 

Next are the fitness-tracker-style smartwatches – some of these are pared-back, budget versions of “grown-up” fitness bands, while others are specifically designed for children and come with a range of games and rewards to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle

Read more: 10 best family board games to keep everyone entertained

Lastly are the most comprehensive smartwatches for children – such as the Xplora and the Spacetalk – which, when paired with an app on the parent or carer’s smartphone, offer GPS tracking and secure messaging, and need a SIM card to operate. 

So choosing the right smartwatch for your child very much depends on what you want them to use it for, and how old they are.

When choosing the models in our round-up, we wanted the emphasis to be on fun, with some gentle encouragement to move more. Safety features (such as restricted contacts if calls and messages are possible) are absolutely essential on models for children. 

A variety of young testers wore these smartwatches for several days. We also assessed how easy they were to use out of the box.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Garmin vivofit jr 3

Screen size: 14.11mm²

Battery life: Non-rechargeable, up to one year (CR2025)

Weight: 25g

Water resistance: 5 ATM

Connectivity: Bluetooth to parent’s smartphone

GPS: No

Camera: No

Works with: iOS, Android 

Suitable for: Four and above

We love the positivity of Garmin’s vivofit jr 3 – it’s all about encouraging children to be more active, with either Marvel superheroes- or Disney Princesses-themed games and challenges providing an incentive for taking more steps, doing more chores around the house, or spending more time moving. Setting it up is straightforward and takes less than 10 minutes – a parent needs the Garmin jr app, then the watch connects and is controlled through that. From there, challenges and tasks can be created and rewards set – earn a certain number of coins to unlock more games.

The watch itself is well made and straightforward; it can be worn when swimming, and our young tester loved the Marvel design details. One button on the side controls the data shown on the screen and acts as a timer, stopwatch and challenge starter. It’s a great piece of kit.

Paw Patrol interactive smart watch

Screen size: 27mm²

Battery life: Rechargeable, 24 hours with normal use

Weight: 39g

Water resistance: Splashproof

Connectivity: Micro USB

GPS: No

Camera: Selfie camera for photos and video

Works with: N/A 

Suitable for: Six and above

Think of this fun Paw Patrol watch as more of a toy than a smartwatch and you won’t be disappointed. It’s not the most sophisticated here, but that’s not the point – Paw Patrol fans will love it, and it’s a great starter watch (with a timer, stopwatch and alarm), plus a camera for selfies and videos (a micro SD card can be installed) and six simple games. 

The starting age of six is spot on – the touchscreen controls are a little fiddly. It’s a straightforward smartwatch: it doesn’t need to be connected to another device to work, it’s splashproof, and it takes an hour to charge. 

VTech kidizoom smart watch DX2

Screen size: 1.4in

Battery life: Rechargeable, two to three days

Weight: 410g

Water resistance: Splashproof 

Connectivity: Micro USB

GPS: No

Camera: Dual camera for photos and videos 

Works with: iOS, Android 

Suitable for: Four and above 

Brilliant fun for younger kids, the VTech kidizoom smartwatch has a great selection of games and features to encourage children to move more (the “crazy dance action challenge” is particularly fun), to teach them to tell the time, and to improve their logic skills with puzzles and challenges.

It doesn’t need a smartphone to work (simply save media to a laptop via USB) and is easy to set up, but is well worth exploring fully as there’s more to it than meets the eye. Pictures and video can be taken from either the side camera or the front-facing one, and silly special effects can be added. Our young tester’s favourite bit? Using the camera to search for monsters in the real world with the monster detector app.

Fitbit ace 2

Screen size: 33x12mm

Battery life: Rechargeable, up to five days on standby

Weight: 18g

Water resistance: 50m

Connectivity: Bluetooth

GPS: No

Camera: No 

Works with: iOS, Android 

Suitable for: Six and above

If you’re a Fitbit fan and your child is also keen to start tracking their movement, it makes sense to buy the latest Fitbit ace 2, aimed at children aged six and above, as you’ll just need one app to control all the family Fitbits, and you can easily create family challenges and targets.

Really light on the wrist (the lightest here), the ace 2 is simple to use; most of the settings are controlled from the app on a parent or carer’s iOS or Android device and the Fitbit mainly shows daily steps and active minutes, so is easy to navigate. We love that it can be worn in the shower or while swimming, and our young tester liked being woken up by the silent alarm (a quiet buzzing on their wrist). Available in coral pink or dark blue.

Little Tikes tobi robot smartwatch

Screen size: 1.54in

Battery life: Rechargeable, up to two days

Weight: 60g

Water resistance: Splashproof

Connectivity: Wireless connectivity with other Tobi smartwatches (to share photos and messages)

GPS: No

Camera: Dual camera for photos and videos

Works with: N/A

Suitable for: Four to six and above

The tobi robot smartwatch is first and foremost an interactive, wearable robot – poke it, shake it or swipe it to prompt one of its more than 100 facial expressions. Our young tester was utterly absorbed and it reminded us of a tamagotchi – the more you interact with it, the more you get from it. 

It’s worth reading the detailed user guide and fiddling with the settings before handing it over to your child – there’s a lot going on with tobi, including fitness games (it has a pedometer), messaging (to other tobi smartwatches), and taking pictures and video, as well as learning to tell the time. For versatility, tobi can be popped out of the silicone strap and comes with a clothing clip that doubles as a display stand. It’s also available in pink or blue.

Goji smart watch

Screen size: 1.4in

Battery life: Rechargeable, up to five days

Weight: 148g

Water resistance: Waterproof

Connectivity: Bluetooth to parent’s smartphone

GPS: No

Camera: No

Works with: iOS, Android

Suitable for: Older children and teens

The feature we like best about this watch? You can set a “sedentary alert” to go off after a certain amount of inactivity. Very much aimed at teens rather than younger kids, it tracks your steps (running or walking), cycling and sleep, plus it has a heart rate monitor and connects via Bluetooth for smartphone notifications and music control. Stylish and very much modelled on Apple’s far pricier version, it’s a great-value first smartwatch that’s available in rose gold or black.

Honor band 5

Screen size: 20x10mm

Battery life: Rechargeable, up to 14 days on standby

Weight: 28g

Water resistance: 50m

Connectivity: Bluetooth

GPS: No

Camera: No 

Works with: iOS, Android 

Suitable for: Older children and teens

First and foremost a fitness tracker, this is a great option for older kids keen to measure their performance on the track or in the pool. Able to monitor movement across multiple fitness modes and record heart rate, it’s a neat piece of kit for young athletes. You can also use it to set targets (eg calories burnt, distance covered) while training, plus it’ll keep track of your sleep pattern and receive phone notifications.

Easily paired with a smartphone, you’ll need to download the Huawei health app and set up a profile – but it only takes a few minutes. The watch is sleek and streamlined, but as a result there is only one button in addition to the touchscreen, so it’s worth spending a bit of time getting used to the menu and function layout. It comes in black, navy or pink.

Xplora X5 play

Screen size: 1.4in

Battery life: Rechargeable, up to three days on standby

Weight: 34g

Water resistance: Waterproof

Connectivity: Bluetooth

GPS: Yes

Camera: 2MP

Works with: iOS, Android 

Suitable for: Four and above

Billed as your child’s first smartwatch, the X5 play comes with lots of features to protect your child’s safety, such as being able to monitor their location from your smartphone app, and the fact that only up to 50 registered contacts can message your child. With a built-in step counter, 2MP selfie camera and video, and GPS, the watch itself is straightforward and intuitive to use. The action really starts when you choose to join various “campaigns” through the Xplora app. Current campaigns include tie-ins with Peter Rabbit 2 and Spy Racers – children earn rewards, places on a leaderboard and the chance to win prizes for every 1,000 steps they take. 

Setting up the watch requires creating an account with Giffgaff (it comes with a free Giffgaff SIM and £5 credit) and downloading the Xplora app – it’s not complicated, but is worth doing before giving the watch to its recipient. It’s available with a blue, pink or black frame.

Spacetalk

Screen size: 1.2in

Battery life: Rechargeable, up to 24 hours on standby

Weight: 58g

Water resistance: Water resistant

Connectivity: Bluetooth

GPS: Yes

Camera: No

Works with: iOS, Android 

Suitable for: Five and above

A mobile phone, GPS tracker and watch, the Spacetalk is designed with your child’s safety in mind. Pair it with the Allmytribe app on your smartphone and only approved contacts can message or call the watch. You can also activate alerts that indicate if your child has (or hasn’t) arrived at school, and SOS contacts can be called by the press of a button.

There’s no social media or open internet available on the watch, and you can enable school mode, so during certain hours it is only a wristwatch. There’s a pedometer to help reach fitness goals and an interactive reward star chart – both are controlled through the app. We particularly liked being able to edit and add preset messages for our child to use in the chat function, so they can just select and send. It’s available in teal, grey and pink.

Vodafone neo

Screen size: 1.7in

Battery life: Up to 24 hours

Weight: 40.6g

Water-resistant: 10m for up to 30 minutes

Connectivity: Built-in Vodafone Smart SIM

GPS: Yes

Camera: Yes

Works with: iOS, Android 

Suitable for: Six to nine

A secure, intelligent smart watch for kids, the new Vodafone Neo puts some of the favourite Disney, Pixar, Star Wars and Marvel characters straight on to our young ones’ wrists. The characters, affectionately called sidekicks in Neo world, bring the activity tracking challenges to life, making their catchphrase sound effects when the watch moves and leaping into life throughout the day to encourage movement. 

Not just an activity tracker, the Neo encourages your child to stay in touch with you (and a close group of controlled contacts) via calls and chats. Everything is set up through the Vodafone Smart App installed on the parent’s phone, which connects via the watch’s built-in SIM card – so distance isn’t an issue. Via the app, you can check their location, set their permitted contacts, add events to their calendar and send instant messages. On the watch, the child can take photos, check the weather and see their daily activity, as well as easily switch between the different characters. We love the independence this watch encourages, as did our young tester. 

The watch comes with a second strap, which sets the watch face at a more ergonomic angle – it’s a nice touch.  Available in mint or ocean. 

The verdict: Kids’ smartwatches

It’s hard to pick just one best product, as there’s such a broad range of uses, from playful toys to fitness trackers and GPS devices. However, the Garmin vivofit jr 3 stands out for its quality and age-appropriate approach to encouraging healthy movement. Of the toy smartwatches, VTech’s kidizoom is brilliant, and our favourite of the GPS trackers is the Spacetalk.

For more smartwatches (for grown-ups) read our guide to the best smartwatches that do much more than just tell the time

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.