Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
The Apple Watch is the most popular smartwatch in the world. Whether it’s the ideal choice for your kid depends on many factors, including the age of your child and the goals you’re hoping to achieve.
It’s time to you learn the pros and cons of your child wearing an Apple Watch and consider some affordable alternatives.
What Is the Apple Watch?
First launched in 2015, Apple’s wearable device is available in multiple colors and styles. The fourth-generation model is available in two sizes, 44mm and 40 mm. The earlier Apple Watch Series 3 is still available in 38mm and 42mm varieties.
Apple Watch, regardless of the model, has been designed to track the daily activities of the user. It can also track specific exercises such as running, swimming, and yoga. Beyond this, Apple Watch offers music, podcasts, gaming, and much more.
The Age Factor
To take advantage of all of the Apple Watch features, the device needs to be synced with an iPhone. Because I don’t recommend smartphones for kids 10 and under, I’ll say the same for Apple Watches. Once a child enters middle school, the choice isn’t nearly as simple.
At 12 years of age, my daughter still doesn’t have a smartphone or an Apple Watch. My ex-wife and I made this decision based on our belief that our daughter isn’t mature enough to handle either device. We expect our feelings on this to change in a year or two.
As a parent, you’ll have to decide what’s the appropriate age for your child to carry around an iPhone and Apple Watch.
The Money Factor
Another critical factor is the price. The least expensive Apple Watch Series 4 is $400, while the cheapest Apple Watch Series 3 is $279. As you’ll see below, these prices are much higher than some of the alternatives on the market, even if you can find a cheap Apple Watch deal.
Are these price points too high for your child? Again, you’ll have to decide.
Reasons to Buy Your Child an Apple Watch
Beyond age and money, there are lots of reasons to buy your child an Apple Watch. These include the following.
Encourages Healthy Living
The folks over at Apple believe it’s essential for watch users to achieve three goals each day. These include:
- Standing for at least a minute per hour at least 12 times per day
- Exercising 30 minutes per day
- Burning calories to achieve a user-defined Move goal
To help you achieve this goal, Apple offers encouraging words throughout the day and the ability to compete with others in exercise challenges. There are also countless third-party exercise solutions available for Apple Watch users.
Peace of Mind
Because your child uses an iPhone (and Apple Watch), you can always know where they are thanks to Apple’s Find My Friend feature. Like any tracking device, however, you should first discuss this with your child, so trust remains. At the minimum, let them know that you’re tracking them for safety reasons.
Beginning with watchOS 5, Apple introduced an old-school walkie-talkie feature on Apple Watch. This should make it easier to communicate with your child, assuming they have their iPhone nearby (or have an Apple Watch with a cellular connection). With the walkie-talkie feature, talking to your kids is as simple as pushing a button on your watch.
Reasons Not to Buy Your Child an Apple Watch
Again, moving beyond age and money factors, there are reasons why it might be best not to purchase an Apple Watch for your child. These factors could include the following.
Many schools are expanding their bans on smartphones in the classroom to smartwatches too. The reasons? Products like Apple Watch could be used for students to cheat on tests. At the minimum, they could just become a distraction.
Small Enough to Lose
If Apple Watches aren’t welcomed in school, the odds of your child losing their smartwatch increase. Plus, even with its built-in tracking capabilities, Apple Watch is still a popular choice for thieves.
One More Screen
Screens play a considerable role in our daily lives. Even for children, this can include televisions, gaming devices, tablets, and smartphones. Is adding another screen in their lives worth it?
An Apple Watch Series 3 or Apple Watch Series 4 lasts up to 18 hours between charges. In other words, your child will have to recharge their wearable device every day. Will they do this?
Alternatives to Apple Watch
The VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX is an inexpensive choice that’s packed with exciting features. These include a camera for photos and videos, customizable watch face, alarm/timer, games, and more. Perhaps best of all, parents can set times during the day when game functions won’t work.
- Pros: Price, features
- Cons: Not for fitness tracking, poor resolution
The Garmin Vivofit Jr. 2 offers a fitness tracker and reward system in one that teaches kids about healthy living and doing chores. It also syncs with your smartphone for parental controls.
Pros: Price, styles available, long battery life
Cons: Games might become boring for older kids
3. Fitbit Ace
Finally, there’s the Fitbit Ace, which isn’t so much a smartwatch as it’s a fitness tracker. With the wearable device, your child can keep track of activities, receive celebration messages and reminders, and receive motivation to reach goals. Perhaps best of all, it offers up to five hours of battery life between charges.
- Pros: Long battery life, style, great for fitness tracking
- Cons: Not a full-featured smartwatch, price, limited color choices
Is the Apple Watch for Kids?
With each passing year, the Apple Watch relies less on an iPhone to operate. However, a smartphone is still required for setting up and maintaining the wearable device. For this reason alone, I wouldn’t recommend buying an Apple Watch for most kids.