Should You Buy Your Child a Fitness Tracker? The Pros and Cons

What are the pros and cons of buying a fitness tracker for your child? This is an especially pertinent question when parents more than ever are using the devices to measure whether or not their kids are getting enough exercise.

There’s no denying that fitness trackers can help you track your child’s activity level to be sure they’re getting the exercise they need for a healthier future. However, there are also downsides to buying one of these devices for your child.

We’re highlighting some of the advantages and disadvantages of buying a fitness tracker for your child.

5 Advantages of Giving Your Child a Fitness Tracker

Let’s start by looking at some of the advantages of buying a fitness tracker for your child.

1. Track Your Child’s Activity Level

Fitness trackers can help you measure whether or not your child is getting adequate exercise. While most parents assume that their children get enough exercise in school during recess, sometimes that’s not always the case.

Fitness trackers can track your child’s activity level in the form of steps taken and time spent active. You can easily tell how active your child is by looking at the recorded data via a smartphone app.

2. Motivate Your Child to Exercise

A fitness tracker can also help motivate your child to exercise as the data serves as a potent reward system. With a fitness tracker, your child gets real-time data on their activity level, which can serve as extra motivation to exercise.

Children’s fitness trackers work in a way like mobile apps that reward walking habits.

3. Track the Amount of Sleep Your Child is Getting

Children’s fitness trackers also come in handy when you want to know whether your kid is getting adequate sleep or not. Fitness trackers like the Fitbit Ace can help you track the amount of sleep your child is getting.

Related: The Best White Noise Machines for Drowning Out Distractions

4. You Can Customize the Metrics Your Child Can See

Another great thing about buying a fitness tracker for your child is that you don’t have to worry about them being exposed to data that may affect their self-esteem. Your child will not be exposed to sensitive data like the amount of calorie intake, body weight, and BMI. That’s because you can customize what information they see on the activity tracker.

5. Encourages Children to be Conscious About Their Health

Buying fitness trackers for your child can also help them grow with a positive health consciousness that will help them later on in life. It trains them to understand that they’re responsible for their health.

4 Disadvantages of Giving Your Child a Fitness Tracker

Children’s fitness trackers are not without their faults. Here are some of the downsides.

1. Your Child Might View Exercise as a Chore

Another con of buying a fitness tracker for your kid is that it can take the fun out of physical activities. While it is easier to track your child’s activity levels by simply looking at the numbers on the device, there is also a tendency for your child to see the numbers as the goal instead of their overall health.

Fitness trackers can also discourage your child from participating in other healthy exercises like climbing, spinning, rolling, and throwing that do not increase their daily step count.

It may also discourage them from exercising when they don’t have their tracker on, as they may feel they won’t receive credit for their efforts.

2. The Technology Might be Addictive

Fitness trackers, like all devices, could be potentially addictive for your child. While most fitness trackers have basic designs that reduce the addiction potential, a fitness tracker is still an extra device for your kid to focus on, use, and want every day.

3. Data Is Not Always Accurate

Fitness trackers do a great job at tracking your child’s activity level. However, to be effective, its recorded data has to reflect real-world performance. But does it?

Findings from a study published in 2017 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers show that metrics such as step count vary as much as 26% across trackers. Other metrics such as heart rate monitoring and the number of calories burned are also subjective.

This is especially important if you’re looking to use your child’s activity data to determine their other health behaviors like nutritional choices.

So it’s best not to base sensitive decisions solely on the data recorded from a fitness tracker.

4. Fitness Trackers May Cause Anxiety in Some Kids

Fitness trackers have also been found to cause anxiety and worry in some children. The fixation on numbers can cause your child to panic if they fail to meet their goals. That can adversely affect their wellbeing.

Weighing the Pros and Cons of a Fitness Tracker for Your Child

Buying a fitness tracker for your child can be a good thing or a bad thing. What matters most is whether or not its use is controlled.

Fitness trackers can help motivate your child to start active healthy habits that can become almost natural with time. When the habit becomes natural, they can stop using the tracker to help minimize the risks.

And when your child is ready to relax after a day of activity, you can help entertain them with some fun coloring apps.

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