Garmin Vivofit Jr 2 – Kids Activity Tracker
When we were kids we were always outside playing
How many times have you turned around and said this to your children? I’m guessing that it’s probably more than once! I know for a fact that I’ve said it a few times this month already! I seem to remember always being out on my bicycle, playing football or shooting some hoops in the garden.
Like many others perhaps I’m guilty of looking back on my own childhood through rose tinted glasses. Either way, I also know that the kids all give a collective groan when I mention my childhood! Apparently things have changed for the better today they tell me! I’m not too sure however, as one thing I do know for certain is that as kids we certainly didn’t have access to as many gadgets as they do today.
For better or for worse their lives are becoming increasingly dominated by gadgets and screens. This is why my brother and I decided to take a look at the Garmin vivofit jr 2. Our aim? To get both of my nephews more active and away from their screens.
- Encourages activity
- Step counter & sleep monitor
- No charging required
- Parental controls
- Parents set reminders / chores
Kids and Screen Time
At a recent family dinner my brother was bemoaning the fact that his two boys (aged 6 and 8) were obsessed with some app on their tablets. He was becoming concerned that they were more interested in these electronic games than they were playing outside. Nothing he did seemed to manage to dissuade them from playing. They had both recently received new bikes for their birthdays. After a couple of weeks however it was becoming harder and harder to get them outside on them.
That was why we decided to get them both a fitness tracker. My eldest nephew in particular had always been intrigued by my running watch, the Garmin Forerunner. In his eyes, the idea that a device on my arm could tell me how far I had run was the stuff of science fiction! It therefore made sense that we should get them a kids version. Our hope was that this would encourage them to be more active and to get outside to play some more. We also thought that the fact that the good weather was on its way was an added bonus too.
Kids Should Be Active
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that kids should have a minimum of 60 minutes activities every single day. This means that they should be outside playing ball, running, skipping or cycling. It short it means that in general kids should be more active!
Why choose the new Garmin Vivofit Jr 2?
This is the new fitness tracker by Garmin that’s designed specifically for kids. It’s an activity tracker aimed at children between the ages of 4 to 9 years. The idea is that they will be able to see how active they have been during the day.
The tracker monitors the number of steps they have taken, how active they have been and even how much they sleep. There’s also the ability to sync it with a parents smartphone where they can set tasks or chores for the child.
And there you have it! That was the clincher for my brother. The ability to set the kids some chores and for them to be rewarded with some virtual coins. He thought that was just a brilliant idea!
What did we have to lose? It was definitely worth a shot if it managed to get the boys active. In a nutshell we chose it for the following reasons:
- Kid focussed activity trackers
- Parental controls
- Funky designs
- Works by positive reinforcement
- Comfortable & waterproof
There are a number of different designs available for both boys and girls. The designs are pretty current for the kids tastes as there are Disney, Star Wars and Marvel characters and themes. In other words there’s something for every taste.
Both my nephews are thankfully obsessed with Star Wars. Nothing whatsoever to do with my brother and I having watched the original Star Wars movies every weekend for years. We shall of course conveniently ignore the fact that we too had a lot of screen time at weekends 🙂
There are 4 different Star Wars designs available and we chose The Resistance and First Order versions. Their designs were a bit more interesting than the others with prints of Stormtroopers and an X-Wing.
Designed For Kids
The watch itself is pretty easy to use. There is a small screen with a single button underneath it. Pressing this button allows you to scroll through the available options. These include the following:
- The time and date
- The number of steps taken
- Number of active minutes
- Number of completed chores
- Coins earned
- New levels obtained for the app
The watch is also child proof and it feels quite robust. It should be able to take a few knocks and scrapes with no problem. The tracker is also fully waterproof. The boys continued wearing them at bathtime and for their weekly swimming lessons with no issues to report.
The watch needs to be synced and paired with a parents smartphone. They will need to download the Vivofit jr app and also have a Garmin Connect account. To get everything ready the overall setup took around 10 minutes. After that the lads were good to go.
Within the app my brother was able to not only monitor their activity levels but also to set chores for the boys. These chores were typically along the lines of making their beds in the morning, feeding the dog or cleaning their rooms. Parents can then assign a reward to each of these chores. These virtual coins that can then be ‘traded’ for agreed rewards.
At my nephews home, a 100 virtual coins meant a family trip to the movies or their choice of takeaway! However, you may allocate these rewards in any way that you see fit. There is no one size fits all solution to kids! What may work with one child may not work for another.
After a few weeks of using these my brother became a fan of this form of positive reinforcement with the boys. The more active they were and the more chores they completed then the more reward they earned. Crucially, he did tell me that in the first couple of weeks he set the bar too low for the rewards. They would have been going to the cinema every couple of days if it had continued!
Within the app the kids had a Star Wars based adventure game, called BB-8’s Adventure. If they continue to hit their activity targets of 60 minutes a day then they obtain some additional access to the game. From what my nephews told me they spent their time within the game searching different spaceships for some missing parts. The main character within their adventure was BB-8.
Initially, the boys enjoyed the game and were quite enthused to progress a little further everyday. A couple of weeks later though and unfortunately they began to lose interest. The boys’ feedback was that the game itself wasn’t that exciting. The eldest boy actually thought it was all rather boring which is a bit of a shame. On the plus side however, it meant that my brother could hold onto his smartphone!
The display screen itself is pretty small which means it suits a child’s wrist perfectly. This might also go some way to explaining why the battery lasts a full year.
During the day there were no issues with the screen. Visibility was good and the information was clear. The kids could scroll through the various screens easily. The screen was a little more difficult to read once it became a little darker outside. Pressing down on the key however, turned on the backlight which made the screen clear again. This backlight went off itself after a few seconds.
This watch is designed to get kids moving and away from their indoor devices. It tracks their daily activity levels and rewards them with virtual coins for reaching their various targets. It’s up to the parents to manage how the rewards are earned and then how they can be ‘spent’.
The boys lost interest after a few weeks in the adventure game on the app. However, they did say that they wouldn’t be without their new watches. They liked the funky designs and it also created a healthy competition between them. They both wanted to beat the other one with their number of steps for the day.
We liked the fact that the watch is very easy to use. The battery is designed to last over 12 months meaning there is absolutely no charging required. A massive bonus in a house where there are constant squabbles over chargers and cables.
Would I recommend the Garmin Vivofit Jr 2?
For younger kids, yes absolutely. It’s easy to use, waterproof, requires no charging and crucially gets the children active. In today’s society that can only be a good thing.
For older kids however, I would recommend going for a basic entry level fitness tracker such as a Fitbit device or a Garmin Vivosmart. They cost around the same amount of money and would have some additional age appropriate features. Do bear in mind however, that these adult fitness trackers certainly don’t look as funky on your arm!