Lockdown, or as it was known in my house, “the 24-hour iPad party,” has cut into our family’s exercise time considerably. My three young children spend most of the day on their devices, whether in remote learning or remote Minecrafting, and we’ve been thinking hard about how to get them out of the house. The Fitbit Ace 3, a $79 activity tracker for kids, might be just the trick.
The Ace 3, as the name suggests, is the third version of Fitbit’s diminutive tracker designed for kids ages 6 and up. The new version lasts eight days on a single charge, but features the same sleep and activity-tracking features as its predecessor. The Ace 3 also has a heart rate sensor built in, but it’s not active in this device. Eagle-eyed users will note the Ace 3's resemblance to more expensive Fitbit tracker, the Inspire 2, which has the heart rate monitor turned on. It’s clear Fitbit basically rebadged the Inspire for this product.
The device comes with a soft rubber strap that is small enough for little kids. The tracker, really a little lozenge of electronics, can slip out of the band for cleaning, and the Ace 3 is waterproof to 50 meters, which means swimming and bathing are fine.
The real draw, obviously, is the 8-day battery life coupled with the whimsical interface. The watch face can display a number of animated little icons, like a spaceship that will blast off when the child reaches a certain number of steps. It also offers reminders to stand so your kids will (or might) get off the couch.
The device comes in purple and red variants and a Minions-branded model is coming soon. We tried the red one because my daughter liked the simple, stark color scheme.
The Fitbit app for iOS or Android, which comes in kids and adult modes, allows you to set goals and sync data but little else. Parents will need to set up a Fitbit Family account for kids to use the Ace 3, and using the app, they can control the Ace 3's settings. You can use also use the app to change the watch face. The app includes a stats-heavy view for little quants as well as whimsical plants and animals that change as you walk and exercise. You can also set it to a normal clock.
To activate the watch, you press both sides of the tracker, which lights up the PMOLED display. You can pair the device with your child’s phone, allowing them to see (and feel) when you’re calling. Finally, you can set up timers and alarms for your child that will buzz them awake or out of the gaming nook when it’s time for bed.
Who is the Ace 3 for? I passed this Fitbit to my 12-year-old daughter, who stopped wearing it almost immediately, and then gave it to my 8-year-old, who was considerably more interested. The gamification of counting steps, something familiar to us adults at this point, is still interesting to kids. Watching a little plant grow or a rocket take off once you get enough exercise is a great feeling even on the adult Fitbits, and it was a special treat for smaller members of our family.
But, like most fitness bands, the novelty wears off, which is why these things usually end up in a junk drawer. If your kid is really asking for one, then by all means the Ace 3 is worth picking up. Encouraging them to wear a fitness tracker to exchange steps for gaming time is a great way to encourage healthier behavior, and because it lasts so long on one charge, you won’t be hunting for the cable all the time. That said, the Ace 3 is fairly limited in features and doesn’t do many of the things that the $99 Inspire 2 can do, like device-tracking with Tile. If your child is a bit older and is looking for a fitness band for real workouts, that’s probably your best bet.
If you’re looking for a brand-name alternative to a super-cheap kids band, the Ace 3 is excellent. Just don’t expect blood oxygen sensors or GPS or nearly anything else common in most wearables. If you just want to track your child’s location, this is not the device to get. It’s also quite expensive for a kids’ gadget. For better or worse, you can get similar devices on Amazon for $27, so this is definitely an investment.
If you’re a Fitbit family and you want to get your kids on board, there’s no reason not to get your wee ones out and about while wearing an Ace 3. At least a long walk will wear them out for bedtime and keep them away from the Xbox.