This content originally appeared on Mashable for a US audience and has been adapted for the UK audience.

Kids have the kind of energy that adults could only dream of having. Most spend their days being active just because. You might not think that a kid needs to track that activity — or the motivation to move around at all — but in a relatively sedentary society, making movement a priority from a young age is still vital.

Fortunately, there are several fitness trackers for kids that are made specifically with children in mind. This means that they’re focused on leading an active lifestyle (rather than weight loss or something along those lines) as well as building non-fitness related habits, like keeping up with homework and chores.

What is a kids’ fitness tracker?

Fitness trackers for kids are simplified versions of those for adults in that they typically trade out advanced metrics like an ECG app for motivational games and unlockable rewards. Most young kids probably don’t need a £300 watch for light health metrics when a cheaper, simpler, more durable option is more suited to keep them engaged.

Band size is also tailored to little wrists, of course, and typically rock kid-friendly designs with fun colours or themes from Star Wars or Frozen.

Kids’ fitness trackers are all about setting goals — fitness or otherwise. Many offer parents the opportunity to set daily reminders for their kids to do things like brushing their teeth, completing their homework, or cleaning their room. Mundane tasks are more fun when they’re integrated into a model of games, tiered rewards, and maybe even a little friendly leaderboard competition among siblings.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a kid these days who isn’t begging for their own smartphone by the age of 10. A fitness tracker can be a major move in the independence department — a stepping stone on your kid’s path to bigger and better tech devices (and the responsibility that comes with owning them).

Can kids use an adult fitness tracker?

Older kids are fine to graduate to a fitness tracker for adults — it’s likely that they’ll already have a phone at that point, anyway — but the functionality of a full-fledged smartwatch probably isn’t ideal for kids. Adult fitness trackers that graze smartwatch status, like the Fitbit Sense, can access payment apps or social media apps. Some parents may prefer that those not be an option at all.

Nearly every adult activity tracker on the market tracks calories burned, which is a metric that kids should absolutely not be focusing on. Ultimately, you want to make physical activity fun, hopefully fuelling positive behavioural changes and building healthy habits that don’t involve an obsession with weight.

Do kids fitness trackers have GPS?

We’d be remiss not to mention the fact that most kid-specific fitness trackers (even the leaders from Fitbit and Garmin) can’t be used as a standalone device to track a child’s location. If the peace of mind that comes with onboard GPS is important to you, opt for a kid-friendly smartwatch with GPS (included below) or a relatively-affordable Fitbit like the Charge 5.

Are fitness trackers safe for kids?

The companies behind the leading kids’ fitness trackers — Garmin and Fitbit — have both stated that their activity trackers put parents in control of approving any friend requests for fitness-based challenges. Parents can access these things via the corresponding app when the tracker is paired with their smartphone. The location of the wearer is also never shared.

What are the best features for a kids’ fitness tracker?

The basic functions of a fitness tracker are pretty standard across the board: step counting, active minute tracking, and distance traveled are big ones, and heart rate monitoring is becoming more common. With those solidified, there are a few other varying features to compare on your must-have list.

Consider battery life in terms of whether your kid will remember to charge a watch on a regular basis.

Sleep tracking is another metric that could be important. Quality shut-eye is imperative for restoration of the body and mind, setting your kid up with physical energy for the day as well as their attention, behaviour, memory, and learning skills at their best.

Water resistance of some sort is pretty crucial between spills, splashes, rain, and sweat. If your child does intend to wear their tracker in the water, however, ensure that it is actually waterproof (withstanding 50 metres underwater), not just water-resistant.

What is the best fitness tracker for kids?

We’ve checked out everything on offer from the biggest brands in the fitness tracker game, and lined up a selection of standout devices. There should be something for everyone and every budget in this list.

These are the best fitness trackers for kids in 2023.

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