Wearables

Three smart wearables for young children from US$70 to US$150 by Garmin, Fitbit and Oaxis

Features on these devices include a location tracker, SOS features and phone functions including blocking unauthorised callers. They also track your child’s activity and sleep, and even come up with activities and rewards

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 August, 2018, 8:00pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 August, 2018, 8:00pm

A watch is no longer just a watch – even for the little ones – these days. While an Apple Watch is probably overkill for children, we look at some devices that are designed specifically for youngsters from aged four onwards.

Oaxis myFirst Fone S2

The Oaxis myFirst Fone S2 is a sophisticated smartwatch with a wealth of features designed to keep you in contact with your child. Equipped with a 1.3in colour touch screen, it sports built-in mobile 3G capability for Dick Tracy-style calls and two-way messaging with the companion myFirstFone app.

Importantly, the device packs a range of security features such as the current location of your little one, and an “SOS” button for emergencies. Unlike similar devices on the market that require a subscription fee, the Fone S2 works with a standard nano-SIM card for mobile connectivity.

Set-up and performance 

The free myFirstFone app walks you through the configuration and pairing process for the Fone S2. The set-up process is intuitive and requires basic information such as the phone number of the guardian. First-timers will be prompted to create an account, and more than one guardian can be tagged to a Fone S2 device.

The Fone S2 uses a combination of GPS, Wi-fi and location information from the mobile network for a claimed accuracy of 10 metres even when indoors. To conserve the battery, location updates hourly, though you can set it as frequently as every five minutes or ask for the current location at any time.

The Fone S2 has a number of communication options. Pressing the physical “SOS” button sends an alert to the app with the current location and an audio recording of the next 30 seconds. For non-emergencies, the watch has a messaging function that supports emoticons, photos or voice messages.

Voice calls to predetermined contacts can also be initiated by swiping to the correct icon on the graphical interface. Likewise, guardians can initiate voice or video calls – there is a built-in front-facing camera – from the app.

You don’t have to worry about unauthorised calls either, as numbers are automatically rejected. Finally, there is an option to surreptitiously dial-in and listen through the Fone S2’s microphone.

Who should get this 

The Fone S2 is perfect for parents who are concerned about the location of their school-age kids or about getting in touch with them. While the device is slightly bulky and warms up slightly when in use, the sheer breadth of features on top of a touted two-day battery life makes for a highly compelling choice.

Price: US$149

Fitbit Ace

Designed for kids aged eight and older, the Fitbit Ace is an activity tracker that comes with a bright, easy-to-read display of the time and activity data. The Ace tracks your child’s activity level throughout the day, using a system of reminders and game playing to encourage less sitting and more moving about.

Built on the same platform as adult Fitbit devices, you benefit from Fitbit’s robust tracking technology and the ability to plug into the Fitbit ecosystem. Activity data is synchronised via the free Fitbit mobile app into the cloud for permanent storage and easy access.

Set-up and performance 

The Fitbit app is needed to set up the Ace. If your child is not yet allowed to use a smartphone, you will need to do it from your own device. Existing Fitbit users can do so by adding a family account to their account and creating a “child” account with yourself as the guardian. If you set it up from your device, then you need to be nearby to synchronise its data via Bluetooth.

DNA-linked wearable app takes the guesswork out of fitness and diet

Battery life of the Ace is a reasonable five days. Like all newer Fitbit devices, the Ace comes with a USB charging connector with spring-loaded grips that hold the device firmly for charging.

The straps are available in two colours as well as sizes, and are locked into place using an updated mechanism that looks more rugged than those found in earlier devices. Finally, the Ace will shrug off accidental splashes and spills, though swimming or taking it into the shower is out.

Who should get this

The Fitbit Ace is a great looking activity tracker designed just for kids and priced on the lower end of the scale. For parents who are fans of health wearables, this is probably a good way to get their child started on the Fitbit.

Price: US$99.95

Garmin Vivofit Jnr 2

The Garmin Vivofit Jnr 2 is a rugged, swim-friendly activity tracker that comes with clever additions designed to help beleaguered parents.

And while the tiny 11mm by 11mm, eight-colour display doesn’t look impressive, the simplistic hardware allows it to deliver an incredible one-year battery life according to Garmin.

Paired with the complementary Vivofit Jnr app on their smartphones, parents can review the activity level and amount of sleep their child is getting in a day. And available in a variety of themes ranging from Star Wars to Disney to Marvel Avengers, the Vivofit Jnr 2 is sufficiently appealing that children are likely to wear them.

Set-up and performance

The Vivofit Jnr 2 must be paired before use. Device discovery is automatic, and the app prompts for basic information such as your child’s name that will be displayed on the watch. It has a single button that is used to toggle through various screens with information such as the date and number of steps walked for the day.

Five health and fitness gadgets to help you in the gym or on the trail

From the app, parents can create chores with associated rewards in the form of coins. When marked as completed, coins are automatically credited and tallied. The Jnr 2 shows the number of outstanding chores and the number of coins they possess. Separately, coins can be used to redeem rewards created on the Vivofit Jnr 2 app, though these don’t show up on the watch.

The Vivofit Jnr 2 is available with either stretchy bands for children from four to seven years old, or adjustable bands for older kids. The on-board memory is good for storing up to four weeks of activity data, and the battery is user replaceable when they do run out.

Who should get this

The Vivofit Jnr 2 is ideal for parents who want to track if their pre-schooler is getting enough sleep, or an excuse to ditch that fading sticker chart on the wall for a more hi-tech reward system.

Price: US$69.99