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The Best Smartwatches for Kids Are Cheaper Than a Phone

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

For most parents, the idea of strapping a kids smartwatch to his or her child’s wrist seems like a step too far. After all, a typical kid needs less screen time, not more. But the best smartwatches for kids, which allow two-way communication, geofencing, tracking, and more, allow parents to forgo (or even remove) devices once thought indispensable, including smartphones and non-school-related tablets. If anything, a kids phone watch lets you simplify rather than adding to the static and clutter of modern childhood. It also provides digital training wheels as kids gain independence, make their own choices, and build confidence. If something goes sideways, you’re able to respond quickly. If all that benefit is ushered in by a small piece of tech like a kids phone watch (and its military-grade GPS), then it’s a compromise many parents, including us, would make in a heartbeat.

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A dad interested in purchasing his child his or her first kids smart watch should rest assured, knowing that unlike smartphones, with their unfettered access to the internet and social media, data charges, and susceptibility to getting lost, wrist-mounted phone watches are more optimized for younger children, as they provide all the communication features while eschewing browsers and strapping directly to tiny bodies. They also have GPS tracking, calling, and texting, along with a pre-approved contact list (some also include a one-touch panic button if needed, providing even more assurance). Granted, some do include activities, but when a child gets a taste for an iPhone or iPad, little else satisfies. Bonus: All smartwatches are cheaper than smartphones, and upkeep is minimal with much more affordable data plans. 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.

Available in a variety of kid-themed cartoons, including Disney and Marvel (shown here), the new Vivofit Jr. 3 tracks steps, sleep, and daily activity. Differing from its adult line, its battery is replaceable by the year, so your child doesn't have to take it off (and potentially lose it). Your app also allows for rewards based on chores, grades, or other measurables you decide.

With built-in parental controls, a special kids-friendly app, and a host of accessories (including a Minions-themed option), the all-new Ace 3 acts as a coach to get kids more active while having fun doing it. Water- and ding-resistant, it handles their bumps with ease. With up to eight days' worth of juice, the won't have to take it off.

Real-time location tracking and geofencing with alerts, all visible through your smartphone, and a handy list of up to 10 trusted contacts makes this updated hardware worth the wait. We love its auto-answer function, which, like its name suggests, ensures that your child can't pretend he or she didn't hear the call. It also doubles as a fitness tracker with step counting and more.

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.

So yes, this watch is designed for seniors. Who cares? It has a lot of the same features you want your kids to have, including one-button emergency contact calling, text to speech functionality, and a spacious, easy-to-read display. Once you create a Care Smart Contacts list, kids can text or call people on that list. Best of all, to avoid any scams, they can only receive texts from trusted contacts. Parents get one-touch location sharing with contacts. The battery lasts roughly two days.

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.

Waterproof, camera-enabled, and running off 4G, the Tracker Pro provides multiple redundancies that allow you to speak with and track your child. Along with calls, messaging, SOS button, images, and geofencing, your child is concurrently tracked via GPS, LBS, and WiFi for precision. If one goes down, the others are quietly humming in the background.

Angel Watch knows that while your child isn't ready for his or her first smartphone, as a parent, you sure could appreciate some of its features. Children can call and receive audio and HD video calls from a phone book of numbers that you yourself control via a dedicated phone number and wireless service. It also includes multi-source location tracking with geo-fencing, out-of-bounds alerts, and a one-touch SOS button. Even better: No social media. Service is $10 a month.

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