Garmin Vivofit Jr Review – Activity Tracking for Kids Done Right

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It’s the first time Garmin have released a wearable for children. The Vivofit Jr takes established features from the Vivofit series, adapting them for the needs of both parents and children.

Are there features which can encourage children to exercise? How does it compare to the Vivofit 3? All to follow in my review of the Vivofit Junior.

Vivofit Jr vs Vivofit 3? There’s many similarities

At it’s core, the Junior contains many similar features, making it feel like a genuine addition to the Vivofit family. Here’s the core features which the Vivofit Jr shares with many of the earlier releases which target healthy living in adults.

1 year battery life

Right from the first Vivofit release in 2014, this range has been powered by coin cell batteries, giving you an epic long power life. Most wearables require charging every couple of days via USB, but not the Vivofit Jr which will track and upload activity for a whole year off a single CR1632 battery.

This means no charging ports or connectors for your child to make dirty and unresponsive. For extra protection, the battery can only be accessed using a Phillips screwdriver, so should be out of reach for most children.

Move Bar

Or as I like to call it the “Red Bar of Shame”, which monitors if you haven’t moved for a while. Over a 2 hour period of inactivity,  the red bar will fill the width of the display. To reset the bar, your child just needs to walk around for a couple of minutes. It may encourage a mini-break from watching cartoons.
vivofit-jr-60-min-activity-goal

Activity Goal

The Vivofit 3 tracked moderate exercise with it’s Intensity Minutes metric, encouraging users to work towards a target of 150 minutes per week. For children, exercise is critical towards their physiological development, so much so, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourage at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. The Vivofit Jr takes the tracking technology of Intensity Minutes, adapting the target towards a child’s requirements.

Much like the Vivofit 3, the Jr doesn’t have any heart rate tracking tech so can’t differentiate between moderate and vigorous activity like a Vivoactive HR can.

 

Step Counter

vivofit-jr-step-counting-dinosaurLike all other Vivofits, the Junior will count the number of steps taken throughout the day; The Vivofit Jr step counter features a T-Rex. What’s not to love? For greater accuracy in data collection, a Vivofit should be worn on the non-dominant wrist. Though remember that children and adults behave and move very differently, and there could be movements which children do that rack up steps without actually walking. If you buy one, let me know if you spot any examples.

Compared to previous Vivofits, there doesn’t appear to be a daily step goal which adapts based on recent step totals. I wouldn’t say its a problem as it places greater focus on the Activity Goal metric.

For a little motivation, the steps recorded can be measured and compared against family members who own a step-counting Garmin wearable. Get a competition up and running to try and get the whole family leading a healthy lifestyle.

Sleep tracking

Programme your child’s sleeping routine into the Vivofit Jr app, and when worn to bed, you’ll get some basic sleep statistics such as hours slept. It also tracks periods of movement or restful sleep, which may help give parents clues if their child is getting up in the night and playing instead of sleeping.

It’s got a lot of existing Vivofit features…

With a children’s release, it would have been so easy to design a wearable which lacks tracking and focuses on visual gimmicks. The core metrics captured in the Vivofit 3 are pretty much all present, meaning the Vivofit Jr is respectable in collecting health and fitness data.

So how is the Vivofit Jr suitable for kids?

Though it collects the same metrics, the difference comes how the Vivofit Jr communicates to its audience. Children aren’t motivated by bar charts or graphs, so throw in some specific new features that are really specific to the challenges of parenting and you have yourself a quality wearable.

A different app – Vivofit Jr

Whereas Garmin Connect assumes the wearer and app user are the same person, this wouldn’t work for the Vivofit Jr, where the child wears the device and the app user is parent or guardian. It’s a different relationship which is catered for in the Vivofit Jr app, whereby the parent acts as an administrator, who can review data, assign tasks, and dish out reward coins. Multiple Vivofit Jr devices can be added to same app account, making it easier to manage more than one child.

Garmin Vivofit Jr app features

Vivofit Jr app

The Vivofit Jr app is compatible with iPhone and Android smartphones running at least Bluetooth 4.0; most phones released after 2014 should have this Bluetooth version.

The Adventure Trail

Part of the Vivofit Jr app experience, is a motivational tool called the Adventure Trail. For every day where more than 60 minutes of activity is completed, your child gets to move one space along the trail, which features facts about animals.

Task Timers

Raising a child isn’t all play time, so going beyond activity tracking the Vivofit Jr allows parents to schedule tasks into a child’s routine. The task timer is controlled on the Vivofit Jr device (not the app) empowering the child to take responsibility for the tasks they need to do.

Preloaded are the below, but with all being different durations, these provide your child a range
2 min – Brushing teeth
5 min – Sharing toys
10 min – Finish eating
15 min – Reading
20 min – Lesson or practice
30 min – Screen time

Through the Vivofit Jr app, a parent will get an update when a task has been completed; provided Bluetooth is switched on and they are in range of the child. Tasks can be scheduled in daily or weekly by parents too, so that the child gets into a routine.

Chores

From the Vivofit Jr device, children can see the number of tasks to be completed today as well as how many they’ve finished so far. This is controlled from within the app, where parents log the number of chores their child has to carry out, such as tidying their room. Provided the parent is happy with the outcome, they can tick off the task as done.

For each task completed, you can decide how many virtual coins your child receives. These coins can then be exchanged for a reward, be it extra playtime or having a friend over. Your call. On the Vivofit Jr, children can see how many coins they have inside a piggy bank,  and this number updates as tasks are completed or coins are exchanged.

Easier to wear – A better fit

With a smaller strap circumference,  the Vivofit Jr. is a better size for a child’s wrist. (Circumference – Vivofit Jr – 136mm,   Vivofit 3 Regular – 137 to 195mm). It’s much simpler to take on and off too, as a child can slide it on or off like a wristband. The Vivofit 3 mechanism which involves twisting a clasp isn’t suitable for smaller fingers, so a sensible design decision from Garmin to exclude this on the Junior.

The Vivofit Jr. is available out of the box in three attention-grabbing designs:

Garmin Vivofit Jr - Colour Range

Vivofit Jr patterns Left to Right – Broken Lava, Digi Camo and Real Flower.

– Digi Camo – A green band which reminds me of Minecraft
– Broken Lava – A red band featuring triangles of different shades
– Real Flower – A pink, blue and white floral pattern.

Much like the Vivofit 3, the computer unit can be pushed out of the band with a little force; so you can wash it clean or change up the design if your child’s’ tastes change.

Should your child outsize the wrist strap, I’ve read that the computer unit of the jr should fit inside a standard Vivofit 3 band.

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Vivofit Jr

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Rob's Vivofit Jr Rating

85% Awesome

For a device aimed at kids, the Vivofit Jr takes learnings from previous adult Vivofit releases and adds relevant features for children and parents into the product. It’s not dumbed down or a lesser version of a Vivofit, rather a product which shows Garmin’s focus on creating lifestyle products for all.

  • User Ratings (21 Votes) 26 %
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I'm a super keen injured runner with over 20 years experience in races and endurance training. Get in touch with me over Twitter, G+ on in the comments below.

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