Fitbit Ace 3 VS Garmin vivofit jr. 3: what’s the best activity tracker for your kids?

Garmin vivofit jr 3 vs Fitbit Ace 3 which is the best fitness tracker for kids today

Building healthy habits isn’t just for adults! Using a wearable made especially for children is a great way for both parents and kids to track exercise and activity together.

This article compares two of the most popular wearables for children head to head: Fitbit’s Ace 3 VS Garmin’s Vivofit jr.

These two picks won’t break your bank and have features that encourage kids (ages 6 and above) to get active and even complete chores by making it fun and rewarding.

At the moment, these are the latest and best trackers that you can get your hands on for kids. So, without any further ado, let us get a closer look into them!

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What’s different about activity trackers designed for children

It’s worth taking a moment to understand what activity trackers for kids are all about. If you are already familiar with them, feel free to skip this section. 

The first thing to keep in mind is that fitness trackers are ultimately still fitness trackers. Their main purpose is still tracking things such as steps and exercise. 

However, kids models do offer some great additional features designed especially for children (and parents.)

Kids only-features on activity trackers

The main difference between adult fitness trackers and trackers for kids is that kids are a bit smaller to fit on their hands.

Plus, kids trackers do not include heart rate monitors–this is due to most countries’ government bodies (such as the FDA in the US) not clearing or approving the wearable as a medical device in people 18 or under.

They also commonly have longer battery life and are ruggedly built to withstand the clumsiness and energy that most kids have. 

Additionally, kids trackers offer parents tools to review their children’s activity and, on some models, monitor their child’s sleep behaviors or even allow parents to assign chores and hand out rewards. 

Some may also offer additional features, such as mini-games that kids can unlock after reaching their goals.

And with that out of the way, let us check the Fitbit Ace 3 and the Garmin vivofit Jr. 3!

1. Fitbit Ace 3 VS Garmin vivofit jr. 3: pricing and design Garmin Vivofit Jr 3 and Fitbit Ace 3 design

Let us start by saying that both Fitbit and Garmin’s offerings are priced at just under $80. So, there’s no advantage to one over the other here.

The design is quite different, though.

Garmin’s Vivofit Jr. 3 is more like a traditional-looking watch with its square screen, while Fitbit’s Ace 3 looks like Fitbit’s typical, vertical-shaped fitness tracker, similar to its adult Inspire Series or Charge Series. 

One big difference: Garmin’s Vivofit Jr. 3 includes a color screen, while Fitbit’s Ace 3 is monochrome (black & white.)

The Fitbit Ace 3’s screen is also slightly bigger at 1.47-inch, while the vivofit jr. 3 is a smaller 0.5×0.5 inch color screen. 

But don’t discount Fitbit’s screen just yet. Many users find it much easier to see in daylight than Garmin’s color screen.

Additionally, for on-device navigation, the Fitbit Ace 3 includes both a side button and a touchscreen, while the Garmin vivofit jr. 3 only includes a side button.

So, big and monochrome or small with colors? Touchscreen or not? That’s the question. 

Garmin vivofit jr. 3, Fitness Tracker for Kids, Includes Interactive App Experience, Swim-Friendly, Up To 1-year Battery Life, Blue Stars
  • Includes interactive app experience that lets kids go on a garmin world tour; kiddos can uncover and...
  • Durable, swim-friendly fitness tracker features a large color display with multiple watch face...

Color and design options

Another big difference between the Ace 3 and vivofit Jr 3 is the array of design options.

Fitbit offers two color choices for its standard Ace 3: a black/red option and a blue/green option. color options for Fitbit Ace 3

But there’s also a Minions version of the Ace 3, including Despicable Blue and Mischief Black bands. Minions bands and partnership with Fitbit Ace 3

Learn more about all the Minions features and offerings for the Fitbit Ace in this article.

Fitbit Ace 3 Activity-Tracker for Kids 6+, Blue Astro Green, One Size
  • BATTERY LIFE: Up to 8 days of battery
  • Compatibility: Compatible with iOS 12.2 or higher & Android OS 7.0 or higher

In contrast, Garmin currently offers different watch themes on its vivofit jr. 3: Marvel’s Black Panther or Iron Man, Disney’s Princess or Little Mermaid, and Garmin’s own World Tour adventure theme. Color and theme options on Garmin vivofit jr 3

Each of these themes comes with its own color band and adventure games.

The downside is that to switch between themes, you need to separately purchase the theme’s band for about $30, including a code to unlock that theme’s adventures, rewards, and other options.

2. Battery life 

The battery life of these two trackers is phenomenally different.

As expected from most fitness bands, the battery of the Fitbit Ace 3 is rechargeable and can last up to 8 days – depending on how you use it. 

The surprising thing about Garmin’s vivofit jr. 3 is that it has a replaceable battery (a CR 2025 coin cell battery) that lasts for up to a year (depending on use) before you have to replace it with a new one. replace battery on Garmin Vivofit Jr 3

So, if you want something that lasts for a week or so and can be recharged, the Fitbit Ace 3 is for you.

But if you prefer replacing the old battery with a new one once or twice per year, go with the Garmin vivofit jr. 3. 

For us, the Garmin Vivofit Jr. 3 is the clear winner when it comes to battery management!

3. Basic features

In terms of basic features, both trackers are waterproof up to 50 meters, a step tracker, sleep tracking, and offer parental controls via apps. Call alert and notification on Fitbit Ace 3

Only the Fitbit Ace supports call alerts when the tracker is in the vicinity of the child’s paired mobile phone. This feature only works for kids who have their own smartphones.

Fitbit Ace 3 Activity-Tracker for Kids 6+ One Size, Black/Racer Red
  • Kids spend less time charging and more time moving with up to 8 days of battery (varies with use and...
  • Animated clock faces grow and develop as kids move more throughout the day

Although Vivofit Jr 3 does not offer call notifications, it does have a widget that can be used in case of emergencies, called ICE (in case of emergency.)

When someone taps the ICE icon, they see your child’s emergency contact information on the vivofit jr’s screen. vivofit jr 3 Garmin emergency parent information contact

Although the Ace 3 and Vivofit Jr 3 offer the same basic functions, things get a bit more complicated when it comes to motivation-based features. 

About parental controls

While both Fitbit and Garmin provide parents a way to manage their kids’ devices and data, they do it differently!

Fitbit’s parental controls

For Fitbit, parents set up a family account within the Fitbit app. Once you create a family account, you can then add a child account for each child with a Fitbit. family account Fitbit app

Child accounts have access to a Kids View inside the Fitbit app, where they can review their stats, interact with members of the family account, add friends (parent approval required), and participate in challenges. Kid View in Fitbit app

Only other family account members or approved friends can send your child direct messages or invite them to participate in challenges.

Garmin’s parental controls

For Garmin devices, parents must add the app to their mobile devices called Garmin Jr. This app is different than the Garmin Connect app used to manage adult devices.

This app allows parents to manage their child’s vívofit jr functions and review their steps, sleep, daily active minutes, challenge status, and chore data. app for Garmin Jr devices

Parents can invite additional Family Guardians to help manage the child’s devices, chores, and rewards.

4. Reward and motivate your kids for good behavior

Both trackers are equipped with features that deliver rewards when your child reaches a certain goal. But they do it in very different ways. 

The Fitbit Ace 3 uses simple things such as animated clock faces, personalized avatars, and virtual budgets to motivate kids.

Plus, Fitbit also includes Family Challenges through the Fitbit app’s Kids View, where kids can challenge and compete with family members and friends on things like steps, active minutes, and distance challenges on Fitbit Ace 3

The vivofit jr. 3, on the other hand, offers unlockable app adventures, quizzes, and mini-games that kids can later play on the phone once they meet step and activity minute goals.

A cool feature on Garmin’s vivofit jr. 3 that’s missing on the Ace 3 is the chores and rewards option. replace battery on Garmin Vivofit Jr 3

Using the Garmin Jr app, parents assign chores and give their kids a virtual coin reward for completing those tasks. Plus, chores can be recurring where parents set a time and day of the week when that chore is due. 

On the Vivofit Jr, kids can see their chores progress and current coin bank at any time and can then redeem those virtual coins for rewards that parents set up in that app’s rewards shop. Rewards for kids inside the Garmin Jr app

Parents can also let their kids compete with family members in custom challenges set-up inside the Garmin Jr app.

Fitbit Ace 3 VS Garmin vivofit JR. 3: And the winner is…

So, when everything is said and done, which fitness tracker should you pick? Let’s take a quick look at the strong points of each pick: 

  • Battery: Garmin’s offering can last up to a year. So, that’s a huge win for Garmin in terms of battery life. Just keep in mind that you can only replace the battery instead of recharging it. If you prefer a rechargeable battery, go with the Fitbit Ace 3 that requires charging every 8 days or so.
  • Design: The Garmin vivofit jr. 3 offers a 0.5 to 0.5-inch square, colored display, while Fitbit’s offering is a 1.47-inch vertical, monochrome screen. So, this clearly comes down to personal preference. It’s a tie. 
    • But it’s also worth keeping in mind that Garmin offers multiple colors and themes to choose from while you only get 2 color choices with Fitbit, with a Minions theme coming out later. So that’s a win for Garmin.
    • Fitbit includes a touchscreen and button, while Garmin includes only a side button and no touchscreen. A clear win for Fitbit.
    • Fitbit’s screen is brighter easier to read, especially in bright light, like daylight. Another win for Fitbit.
  • Basic features: The two watches are almost identical here, with the main difference that the Fitbit Ace 3 also comes with call notifications. That’s a win for Fitbit.
  • Motivation: Fitbit’s offering is pretty basic here as it offers nothing but small animations and badges as rewards. On the other hand, Garmin’s offering offers unlockable adventures and games on your phone, which most kids enjoy. That’s a big win for Garmin.

No matter how you look at it, this all comes down to personal preference. Both fitness trackers have their own pros and cons, and now you know specifically exactly what they are.

So, invite your child into the conversation and pick whatever you both think is a better fit!

FAQ FAQ frequently asked questions

What is the best fitness tracker for a child? 

Unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits-all fitness tracker for children. It all comes down to personal preferences and needs.

But in this case, both the Fitbit Ace 3 and Garmin vivofit jr. 3 are great picks, and you are unlikely to go wrong with either of them. 

What ages are appropriate for the Fitbit Ace 3 or Garmin vivofit jr. 3?

Both fitness trackers are targeted towards kids for ages 6+.

On the other hand, teenagers are most likely going to be just fine with your average fitness tracker for adults

Does the Fitbit Ace 3 or Garmin vivofit jr. 3 have GPS or heart-rate sensors? 

No. You are highly unlikely to find built-in GPS under the $100 tag on a smartwatch or fitness tracker, and these trackers are no different.

Some Amazfit watches are rare exceptions to that rule.

Neither the Ace 3 or vivofit jr 3 include heart rate monitoring, mainly due to regional laws that prevent these types of devices from activating those features. 

In fact, the Ace 3 actually has a heart rate sensor built-in, but it’s deactivated and cannot be turned on.

Can I use the Fitbit or Garmin device to track my child’s location? 

No. The parental controls of Fitbits and Garmins are only made to track activities and active time and not for locating your child.

However, you can add your emergency contact information to your child’s tracker so others can access it if needed.

However, if your child also has a smartphone with GPS and access to the internet, you can use other tools to track their location. 

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  1. When you say, “Plus, kids trackers do not include heart rate monitors–this is due to most countries’ laws prohibiting this feature for children.”
    What is your source? Where can I find this information? I’m a law student & am familiar with nearly all business, family, medical & tort laws but had not heard anything about this. The seems to be a law without logic which is certainly not surprising. I tried searching & REsearching but was unable to find 1 single result REMOTELY related to my search.

    Thank you very much,
    Dallas, TX

    • Hi Tiffany,

      Most countries’ laws require that medical features like this receive clearance or approval by their agency responsible for health (i.e. the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).)


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