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The 10 Best Smartwatches for Kids: GPS, Safety Features, and More

Best Smartwatches for Kids
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updated: April 30, 2024

If you’re not ready to hand over a cellphone to your kids, but still want a way to stay connected with them, a smartwatch that’s designed specifically for kids is a great option. With features like GPS tracking so you know when your child has hopped off the bus, to interfaces that are easy for kids to navigate, and batteries that stay charged all day long, there’s plenty of features that make smartwatches appealing to both parents and kids. However, when you’re in the market for a smartwatch, it’s also important to look for features the watch does not allow, like social media, incoming calls from unknown people, or access to the internet.

“Most parents want their kids to have a way to safely communicate that doesn't involve the fears and freedoms of a phone,” says Heather Mahalik, Senior Director of Digital Intelligence at Cellebrite and SANS Faculty Fellow Instructor. “Smartwatches are a great introduction to the reality of technology and provide kids the freedom that they may be seaking. Think of a smartwatch as the gateway to smartphones. Baby step into it!”

If you’re ready to get your child a smartwatch, we’ve done the research for you and narrowed down the top 10 best smartwatches for kids.

What features matter in the best smartwatches for kids

Parental Controls

According to Mahalik, start with parental controls and look for these must-haves: Approved contacts, school quiet hours, and SOS.

With approved contacts, the parent or caregiver setting up the parental controls decides who the child can contact via calls, videos or texts. Anyone outside the contact list will not be able to send messages or make calls to the smartwatch.

The school quiet hours feature helps reduce noise and distractions from the watch when your child is at school, so kids aren’t playing with their watch when they should be learning. However, you’ll still want a way to contact your child in certain instances. “Look for parental controls that allow for emergency calls and break through alerts. My son's device is set in a way that I am an emergency contact and he can text me at any time during ‘school time’,” says Mahalik.

Finally, an SOS feature allows your child to immediately call a parent or caregiver if they find themselves in an emergency. This can be done by touching a button on the smartwatch or on the screen.

Tracking

GPS tracking gives parents peace of mind. You’ll know when your child arrives at school or an after school activity and if there is an emergency, you’ll be able to locate your child. Many GPS tracking features on smartwatches offer boundary options, meaning that if your child leaves the area you’ve designated as the approved boundary, you’ll be alerted immediately.

Durability

Kids are hard on their technology and wearable technology is bound to get bumped, hit, and dropped. That's why it’s important to look for watches that are made from durable materials and are designed with kids in mind.

Our top picks for the best smartwatches for kids

Best smartwatch for kids with GPS: TickTalk 4

The TickTalk 4 is packed with plenty of features that will make it a favorite of parents and kids. This watch connects to either AT&T or T-Mobile cellular networks so kids can make voice calls, video calls, and text with their approved list of contacts. The watch also comes with two cameras, can stream music via iHeartRadio Family Access, and has a bumper around the watch that protects it from drops and bumps.

Kids cannot access social media or the web on the TickTalk 4, and parents can track their kids in real time using the parental control app. From approved contacts and apps to creating custom text responses, parents have access to over 20 different features in the parental control app. The watch is available in three different colors, but kids cannot swap the watchbands for different designs or colors.

Specifications:

  • Target age: 5-12
  • Battery life: 60 hours
  • Waterproof: Safe from minor splashes and spills
  • Display size: 1.54 inches
  • Cellular Connectivity: Yes
  • Parental Controls: Yes

What we like:

  • Allows voice calls, video calls, and texting
  • Free iHeartRadio Family plan

What we don’t like:

  • The watch has a bulky design
  • Watch bands come in limited colors
Best smartwatch for kids with GPS

TickTalk 4 Unlocked

Best smartwatch for younger kids: Little Tikes Tobi 2 Smartwatch

Little kids may be jealous that big kids and grown-ups are able to wear smartwatches that do all sorts of impressive things, but the personality-packed Tobi 2 is hands-down the best way to keep youngsters entertained with their own age-appropriate smartwatch. Sure, this model is preloaded with plenty of captivating games, 50 swappable watch faces, a step-tracking pedometer, and storage space for up to 3,000 photos and 30 minutes of video, but the sweet robot itself is the star of the show. Tobi talks, answers questions, features over 100 unique reactions and expressions, and is the hero of multiple minigames where kids can decorate Tobi’s bedroom and play games with the silly wrist-mounted robot.

Tobi may not be able to make calls or browse the internet, but young kids won’t care as long as they can feed their animated smartwatch buddy digital ice cream cones.

Specifications:

  • Target age: 4+
  • Battery life: Up to 5 days
  • Waterproof: Splashproof
  • Display size: N/A
  • Cellular connectivity: No
  • Parental controls: Yes

What we like:

  • User-friendly, cute, and loaded with activities
  • Wi-Fi connectivity for limiting screen time
  • Long battery life

What we don’t like:

  • Parents may get sick of Tobi’s adorable jabbering over time
Best smartwatch for younger kids
Little Tikes Tobi 2 Smartwatch

Little Tikes Tobi 2 Smartwatch

Best smartwatch for older kids: Spacetalk 4G Adventurer

For older kids ready for more features and a watch that looks and feels more like an adult watch, check out the Spacetalk Adventure. Kids can set up group chats with their family members and send pictures and videos right from the watch. The Spacetalk Adventure has one of the largest screens on the list and a protective layer over the glass to keep it protected during daily use.

Since this watch doesn’t connect to the internet, parents won’t need to worry that kids are downloading apps or scrolling social media on the watch. It also has a wellness feature that lets kids describe how they’re feeling and sends the results to their parents. It’s a nice feature that lets you check in to see if your kids are having a good day or maybe need a little extra TLC when they get home from school.

Specifications:

  • Target age: 5-12
  • Battery life: 32 hours
  • Waterproof: Water resistant and splash proof
  • Display size: 1.81 inches
  • Cellular connectivity: Yes
  • Parental controls: Yes

What we like:

  • Family chat features
  • The quality of the photos

What we don’t like:

  • The watch may be too heavy and bulky for younger kids
Best smartwatch for older kids
Spacetalk 4G Adventurer

Spacetalk 4G Adventurer

Best smartwatch for tweens and teens: Apple Watch SE

For the teens and tweens who are ready for more responsibility and have outgrown the kid-friendly features of many smartwatches, consider an Apple Watch. Apple’s Family Setup feature allows parents to control their child’s watch by approving apps and creating contact lists, use the GPS features to track their child’s location, and can limit access to the watch’s features during school hours. The Apple Watch allows for social media apps to be downloaded, unless those apps are not approved in the parental controls.

There are two versions of the Apple Watch SE. One version comes with GPS only that allows messaging and calls when paired with a nearby phone. The second has GPS and LTE cellular, which works through Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile/Sprint services. Plans usually run around $10 a month for this version,and if you’re choosing the Apple Watch SE, this is probably the best option so kids can always make calls and texts no matter where they’re located.

Specifications:

  • Target age: 12 and up
  • Battery life: 18 hours
  • Waterproof: Water resistant and splash proof
  • Display size: 1.6 inches
  • Cellular connectivity: Optional
  • Parental controls: Yes

What we like:

  • Streams music, audiobooks, and podcasts
  • Thousands of apps available

What we don’t like:

  • The watch is expensive and could cost you an extra $10 a month
Best smartwatch for tweens and teens
Apple Watch SE

Best kids’ smartwatch for Verizon customers: Verizon GizmoWatch 3

If you’re a Verizon customer looking for a great smartwatch for your kids, look no further. The Gizmo Watch 3 is the latest version of this smartwatch and offers a camera for video calls, an impressive GPS tracker with geofencing tools for parents, and games that younger kids will enjoy.

Kids can call, text, and video chat with approved contacts and the new battery lasts up to 3.5 days without needing a charge. Parents will need to download the Gizmo app to access the parental controls and to view the GPS features. However, it’s an easy app to navigate and you can manage multiple watches from the app if you have more than one child.

Specifications:

  • Target age: 3-11
  • Battery life: Up to 3.6 days
  • Waterproof: Water resistant and splash proof
  • Display size: 1.65 inches
  • Cellular connectivity: Yes
  • Parental controls: Yes

What we like:

  • All of the best parental controls
  • Includes a medical ID

What we don’t like:

  • No music apps
Best for Verizon customers
Verizon GizmoWatch 3

Verizon GizmoWatch 3

Most durable smartwatch for kids: Xplora X6Play Smart Watch

If your kids are tough on their technology, they need a watch that can withstand the playground, the classroom, sports practice, and weekends exploring the neighborhood on their bike. The Xplora X6Play Smart Watch has a durable watch band that kids can easily put on and take off. It also has raised edges around the display to help protect the screen and, for around $7, you can add a screen protector.

Instead of the grainy and low quality photos many smartwatches take, the 2-megapixel camera allows kids to snap better quality photos and send them to up to 50 approved contacts. The step counter has a fun reward system that can get your kids up and moving, too: Kids receive one coin for every 1,000 steps, and these coins can be used on Xplora’s Goplay platform to play games or change up the design on their watch face.

Specifications:

  • Target age: 4-11
  • Battery life: 72 hours
  • Waterproof: Splashproof
  • Display size: 1.52 inches
  • Cellular connectivity: Yes
  • Parental controls: Yes

What we like:

  • Accurate GPS tracking
  • Can add a screen protector

What we don’t like:

  • Kids can only send canned text messages
Most durable smartwatch for kids
Xplora X6Play Smart Watch

Xplora X6Play Smart Watch

Best kids’ smartwatch for games: VTech KidiZoom Smartwatch DX2

The VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2 offers plenty of entertainment for kids, like a monster game that uses AR, and voice changers that will have you and your kids laughing. Kids can also take pictures and videos and use the built in filters to make fun and silly creations that you can download for them. The watch also has a pedometer, calendar, and a calculator.

If you’re looking for a fun smartwatch that will entertain your kids, this is a great option. However, if you want a smartwatch with GPS, calling, and texts, this isn’t the watch for you.

Specifications:

  • Target age: 4 and up
  • Battery life: 2-3 days
  • Waterproof: Splash proof
  • Display size: 1.4 inches
  • Cellular connectivity: No
  • Parental controls: Yes

What we like:

  • The camera and filters
  • Durable

What we don’t like:

  • Can’t make calls or texts

Best kids’ smartwatch for video calls: TickTalk 4

While it would be incredibly convenient to take and send video calls with your children, few smartwatches are made to both provide a kid-friendly design while protecting them from strangers like the TickTalk 4. This smartwatch features a reliably crystal-clear video chat and a plethora of safety features, such as a secure app-based texting platform, convenient location tracking, emergency 911 calling, and best of all, only allowing new contacts to be approved by a guardian before they are able to interact with the TickTalk 4. It’s also a great option for parents searching for a smartwatch that is 100% game, social media, and internet-free for children who need less screen time in their lives.

Specifications:

  • Target age: 5-12
  • Battery life: 62 hours
  • Waterproof: IP67 Water Resistance
  • Display size: 1.54 inches
  • Cellular Connectivity: Yes, T-Mobile and ATT networks
  • Parental Controls: Yes

What we like:

  • Surprisingly clear and crisp HD video chats
  • Video chat only works with guardian approved callers
  • Extremely rugged design

What we don’t like:

  • Optimized for ATT and T-Mobile networks
Best kids’ smartwatch for video calls

Best activity tracker for kids: Garmin Vivofit Jr. 3

Get your kids moving and learning with the Garmin Vivofit Jr. 3, because this activity tracker does more than just count your kids’ steps each day. Instead, it encourages kids to learn about the world around them as they stay active 60 minutes a day. As kids reach their daily activity goals, they’ll unlock a variety of games and activities that teach them short and interactive lessons in the globe trotting app.

Parents can also set reminders for chores and homework from their phone. Once kids complete the tasks they get rewarded on the watch. This smartwatch really focuses on activity and movement, but doesn’t come with features like GPS or the ability to make or receive calls or texts.

Specifications:

  • Target age: 4 and up
  • Battery life: 1 year
  • Waterproof: Waterproof
  • Display size: 0.7 inches
  • Cellular connectivity: No
  • Parental controls: Yes

What we like:

  • A one year battery life
  • Swim-friendly

What we don’t like:

  • Kids can’t make calls or send texts
Best activity tracker for kids
Garmin vivofit jr. 3, Fitness Tracker for Kids, Swim-Friendly, -Marvel Iron Man- (010-02441-31)

Garmin vivofit jr. 3, Fitness Tracker for Kids, Swim-Friendly, -Marvel Iron Man- (010-02441-31)

Best kids’ smartwatch with a long battery life: Gabb Watch 3

If you’re searching for a kid-friendly smartwatch that has both a long battery life and is a snap to toss onto a wireless charger overnight, the Gabb Watch 3 is your best bet. You’ll appreciate that this versatile provides up to 48 hours per charge, as well as precise GPS tracking, a surprisingly rugged design, and an array of fine-tuned parental controls, but children will love its swappable bands, convenient speech-to-text communication option for little kids, and caring for a virtual pet panda in the Gabb Go game.

The Gabb Watch 3’s long-lasting battery life is perfect for knowing kids are exactly where they need to be via GPS, touching base via its large network coverage, and powering a limited selection of kid-safe apps for activity tracking, communicating with parent-approved contacts, and checking off parent-made to-do lists.

Specifications:

  • Target age: 4 and up
  • Battery life: Up to 48 hours
  • Waterproof: IP68 water resistance
  • Display size: 1.41 inches
  • Cellular connectivity: Yes
  • Parental controls: Yes

What we like:

  • Affordable
  • Large collection of parental control options
  • Wireless charging option

What we don’t like:

  • Does not include wireless charger
Long battery life

How we selected the best smartwatches for kids

We researched smartwatches that are specially designed for kids from the most popular brands and selected options based on parental controls, battery life, and other features. We also relied on expertise from Heather Mahalik when it came to digital safety and kids.

What types of parental controls are available on kids’ smartwatches?

Smartwatches designed for kids will come with a variety of parental controls. Using the parent app that is connected to the watch, parents should be able to:

  • Create an approved list of contacts that the child can call or message.
  • Track the child’s current location through GPS.
  • Have access to the child’s outgoing and incoming calls and messages.
  • Set timers for quiet time when notifications won’t cause distractions, such as during school or activities
  • Approve of any apps added to the watch.
  • Set usage limits.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Is a smartwatch useful for kids?

Yes, a smartwatch can be very useful for kids. From being able to call or text with an approved list of contacts without the expense of a smartphone, to fun extra features like activity trackers that encourage kids to be more active, kids will find plenty of benefits with their smartwatch.

What age should a child get a smartwatch?

As with any type of technology, parents will need to decide what is appropriate for their child and their family when it comes to smartwatches. Many smartwatches are designed with basic features that don’t give kids access to the internet, but still allow children as young as three to stay connected with their parents through calls and messaging. A smartwatch is a great way for parents to help their kids understand and create a healthy relationship with technology. For younger kids, parents may consider smartwatches with the most basic features. For older, elementary-aged kids, parents might want to choose a watch that offers more apps and features a camera on the watch.

What are the benefits for giving a kid a smartwatch?

A smartwatch is a great way for parents and kids to stay connected. With features like GPS tracking, messaging, and the ability to call people on their approved contact list, kids are able to check in with parents from any location. Often, smartwatches for kids have fun features like activity trackers to encourage kids to move and exercise. Plus, smartwatches that are designed for kids tend to not come with the hefty price tag that smartwatches for adults comes with.

Should I buy my child an Apple Watch?

While the original Apple Watch wasn’t geared towards kids, newer models and features are making it a fan favorite of parents. An Apple Watch allows children to stay in contact with parents and guardians through calls, texts, and a GPS that shares their location. Parents can manage their child’s contacts and limit notifications so the watch is less of a distraction. As another plus, Apple Watches have limited access to the web and social media apps cannot be downloaded. With Apple’s Family Setup, parents can set up the Apple Watch for their kids without connecting an actual cell phone to the device. The Apple Watch can also be a great starter device for kids who are not ready for the responsibility of smartphones.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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