*Update Nov 2017. Check out the new Garmin Vivofit Jr 2 review here.
I was very excited when I heard about Garmin’s Vivofit Jr ($79.99) activity tracker which is designed specifically for children. By involving family members and including tasks and rewards, the Garmin Vivofit Jr wearable aims to get children excited about staying active. It’s a logical formula that many companies know but have failed to take into consideration when launching products.
Wearable tech’s presence is undeniable in the realm of sports, every day activity tracking and even the workplace. Yet schools rarely embrace the adoption of wearable tech beyond heart rate monitors that project the workout session on a wall; costs, ease of use, security of data and how long before the device becomes outdated are all very real challenges faced by schools with limited budget.
As a Physical Education teacher I must admit the Vivofit Jr had my interest piqued. I got myself a unit just to see how Garmin’s kids focused device intend to get children motivated about staying active.
This is not a full review per se but I got to spend some time playing around the tiny activity tracker and the mobile app.
GARMIN VIVOFIT JR IN SHORT:
- Tracks steps, sleep, activity time
- Auto goal: 60 minute daily play goal
- Customisable rewards and chores
- Task Timers (2, 5, 10, 15, 20 and 30 minutes)
- Audible alerts
- Swim friendly
- Changeable wristbands which are easy to put on
- Up to 1 year user changeable battery
- Unlock educational adventures and learn fun facts
- Step leader board with family members who uses Garmin activity trackers
- Non customisable task timers
- No extra wrist bands
LOOK AND FEEL
The Vivofit Jr activity tracker is housed within a silicon band that resembles more a bangle than a wristband. This is great since kids won’t need to fiddle or figure out how to clip the device. The wrist band is stretchable and should be easy for children to put on.
Garmin also sells wrist bands which you can easily purchase for customisation. The Vivofit 3 bands are also compatible with the Vivofit Jr if there’s a need for bigger sized wristbands.The screen is a bit too tiny for my liking; I had the impression children preferred big screens and giant fonts. The physical size of the Vivofit Jr is near identical to that of the Vivofit 3 right down to the screen size and resolution. The only difference is the weight and the wrist band design. The below picture compared the Vivofit Jr versus a Vivofit generation one.There’s only a single button which controls all function via series of short and long presses.
- Single press toggles through the menu
- Slightly prolonged press brings up the back light
- Long press brings up functions such as task timers, turn off the device or put it in pairing mode.
The Garmin Vivofit Jr is swim safe and looks like it can take a few knocks without being damaged. A user replaceable coin cell battery runs the wearable for up to a year.
FUNCTIONS AND PRESENTATION
Unlike other Garmin products which usually connects to the compatible mobile devices via Garmin Connect mobile app, the Garmin Vivofit Jr has its own app by the same name.
The setting up can take a bit of work but I assure you it’s all fun if you’re planning it with your child. From the setting up of the avatar to customising of the background colour and name to be displayed, I can only imagine how much interaction this app will generate between parent and child
The Vivofit Jr will track the activity level of the child and have it synced to the administrator’s mobile device, most probably one of the parents. Garmin has also provided the option for the administrator to add another 2 guardians.
However, only the administrator has access to customise tasks and rewards.Customising tasks and rewards is where the fun lies. Let’s talk about chores first. There’s a list of chores which is already present in app. You can create your own chores if it’s not on the list and thereafter allocate the amount of rewards in “coins.”Thereafter decide on the type rewards which can range from having ice cream to TV time. The child can then use coins earned from completing chores to redeem the rewards.
So from start to end, there’s plenty of discussion between parent and child from the setting up of the account to the creation of tasks and rewards. The brightly coloured charts and graphs further serves as good motivation for kids to maintain or increase their activity levels.It’s undeniable that parents taking a keen interest in the child’s well being fosters positive relationships . The onus is on the child to gain the agreed upon rewards by completing tasks.The parents’ activity levels in comparison to the child is icing on the cake. Nothing beats an entire family staying active together. As long as the administrator and the guardian are on Garmin Connect, their step count will be reflected in the leadership board.
At present it only links a maximum of 8 Vivofit Jr activity trackers to a single administrator.Also, the parent can utilise pre-set timers to supervise the child in completing the tasks. For example you could set a 2 minutes timer for brushing teeth or even a 20 minutes timer for hitting the books. Once activated, a countdown timer would appear. When time is up, the Garmin Vivofit Jr would beep and the parent must do their part to add a coin for a task completed.
Every time the child achieves 60 minutes of active time, he or she unlocks adventure and fun facts just like an explorer. The child would be teased with nuggets of information about a creature before the animal is revealed after unlocking 3 clues.
The maximum number of explorations is one per day so the search for new exotic creatures and animals will take quite a while. As of publication, I’ve discovered numerous nuggets of information and 3 exotic creatures. It’s pretty educational and I can see how this ties in nicely with bringing the child to the zoo to see the real animals.The wristbands are really small and I thought Garmin could’ve added a larger sized band like how they did for the Vivofit series where 2 bands of differing sizes were included. For when the child grows up. A search on Amazon also revealed numerous comments by customers on the wrist band being too small for their kids. Perhaps this is something Garmin might want to take note of.
Specifically for Singapore, if the included band is too small for the child’s wrist, parents can contact Garmin for an exchange to the XL accessory bands. The vívofit jr. XL accessory bands accommodate wrists between 146 to 170 millimeters, or the vívofit 3 accessory bands may also be used.
Lastly, accessing the timer function can be a tad cumbersome given a single button controls every single function through short and and longer presses.
GARMIN VIVOFIT JR IN A NUTSHELL
I personally thought Garmin had themselves a winner had it not been for the price. There’s challenges with family members, earning of rewards through completion of tasks, an adventure towards new animals, and all day activity tracking.
It’s clearly a winner for parents who bother to use this wearable with their children. This is a well though out product in terms of usage since the Garmin Vivofit Jr syncs to the parent’s mobile device; children are unlikely to own mobile devices at the age of 4-9 and it’s unhealthy anyway.But this tiny tracker retails at a hefty $79.99. In my opinion it would be flying off the shelf had it been priced lower with an extra band thrown in.
As a Physical Education teacher, I see potential in the Garmin Vivofit Jr wearable. I like everything about it and can imagine using it on select students in my class who could use the extra push to stay active. But alas the price is a real turnoff.
You can purchase the Vivofit Jr at $79.99 from Amazon where there’s usually a small discount, great return policy, and free delivery depending on where you reside. In return your purchase helps to offset the costs associated with the running of this site. Thanks for reading!