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The 5 Best Smartwatches for Kids Who Aren’t Ready for a Phone

So you always know where they are, without being weird about it.

As kids get older, having a little bit more independence helps them mature, make their own choices (and accept the consequences if they make bad ones), and build confidence. But out of sight isn’t out of mind: Parents still want to know where their kids are. We want to be able to reach them (and vice versa) in case of emergency. A good kids smartwatch can help support your kid’s transition to digital and real-world independence.

Unlike smartphones — with their unfettered access to the internet and social media, data charges, and susceptibility to getting lost — smartwatches are ideal tools for kids and parents to communicate. The best smartwatches for kids have GPS tracking, allow kids to call and text with their parents, as well as people on a pre-approved contact list, and are cheaper than smartphones, with much more affordable data plans.

There are a ton of watches out there with screens for kids. But while they may measure daily steps and shoot videos, the watches don’t give kids or parents the means to actually talk to or text each other. The watches on our list have touchscreens that are easy to navigate, and let adults and children stay in touch. Which is the entire point.

A brilliant watch that lets parents know where their kids are, call or text them, and set GPS boundaries. If your child has a tendency to wander off, you can check their location using the GizmoHub app and set GPS limits. If your kid crosses one, you'll get an automated alert. Bonus: Parents can establish goals and reminders, and count kids' steps to try and keep them somewhat active. The watch works on the Verizon network so you'll need to enroll in a plan. Depending on use, you get four days' worth of battery life.

This is the priciest watch on our list, but it gives kids access to the Apple ecosystem. What that means for you: You can add up to five family members to your existing services, including Apple Music, Apple TV+, and Apple News+, and share app purchases and the family photo album. Kids can call or text you. You, the organizing adult, invites family members to join the plan and decides what anyone under 13 has access to and which features they can use. Parents approve any downloads or purchases your kid makes. Plus, parents set screen time limits, and limit what apps kids can access. The Find My app lets you know where your kids are, and alerts you if they change locations. Plus, you can set up a family calendar where everyone can view, add, or change events and appointments.

This kids' smart watch slash phone uses the 4G network, and lets kids send text messages, voice messages, photos, and emojis. Plus, it works with group chat. It also has video, calling, and GPS tracking capabilities. The big screen is great for little hands, and the battery lasts a day, so you do need to charge it every night. Note that it's only compatible with T-Mobile and AT&T networks.

Like the TickTalk watch, but in more understated colors. The user interface is really friendly and easy to use, and it keeps track of your kid's steps, to boot. The battery lasts up to four days, but the watch only works on the Verizon network.

This kid-friendly watch from Timex sends your child's location to the secure app and notifies you when they leave a designated area. Your kid gets two-way calling within a private contact group. Plus, the watch lets kids send recorded voice messages, instant messages, and preset messages. There's also an SOS emergency alert button. It works on the Metro and T-Mobile networks.

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