#parent | #kids | An Apple Watch for kids is the perfect way to keep the Series 3 alive | #parenting | #parenting | #kids

If you’re looking for a tracker that will motivate your kids to exercise, there are precious few options. One, really: The Fitbit Ace 3. It arrived this week for $80 and comes in a kid-friendly case with kid-friendly colors and kid-friendly watch faces.

My 9-year-old son has used a Fitbit Ace 2 for the past year and he loves it. It’s water-resistant for swims and showers, basically indestructible with a silicon case, just the right size for his wrist, gives him the stats he wants, and the battery life lasts for the entire school week. The Fitbit app even has easy-to-use privacy controls.

The Fitbit Ace 3 is the perfect fitness device for kids.

Apple wants you to believe it sells a kids’ watch too. On the new Apple for Kids support page, it directs you to the watchOS 7 Family Setup page so you can “set up an Apple Watch for a family member who doesn’t have their own iPhone.” That sounds like a great solution, but there’s a catch. Family Setup requires an Apple Watch Series 4 or later with cellular, the cheapest of which is the Apple Watch SE, which is $329 at the Apple Store.

Not only is Apple’s only wearable offerings for kids way too expensive, it’s not even remotely suitable for a pre-teen. Even the “small” 40mm version looks quite large on my son’s wrist. More importantly, it’s simply too much smartwatch for his needs. Apple may be selling the SE as an option for kids, but there’s nothing about it that’s made with kids in mind.

You don’t need to look further than the design to see that the Apple Watch isn’t made for kids, but it’s deeper than that. Plenty of companies make square smartwatches for kids, so it’s not the shape or even the size that’s the biggest problem. It’s the utter lack of features that make it something a kid might want.

There are some fun watch faces in Toy Story and Mickey, but most of the clocks are geared toward adults and none are as thoughtful as the Ace’s animated interactive ones. There aren’t any kid-specific badges to earn. And battery life isn’t good enough to last through a full day and night.

apple watch se appsMichael Simon/IDG

The Apple Watch SE isn’t much of a kids app.

The Apple Watch’s biggest advantage over the Fitbit Ace is access to the App Store, but even there, the Apple Watch has very little for kids. Sure, if you hunt long enough you might find an app or game your kid will like, but there isn’t a dedicated Kids section like on the iOS store and it’s rare to find a popular kids app that has an Apple Watch component or companion app. Even Apple Arcade doesn’t encourage Apple Watch development.

Ace in the hole

The Fitbit Ace is specifically designed for kids. I know several of my son’s classmates and friends who have one, and it’s the perfect device for school, play, sleep, and everything in between. It teaches my son to be healthy and active without pestering him, helps him reach his goals without stress, and is a fun lightweight companion for his day.

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