Apple Watch for kids: What to buy, how to set up, and best bands
Apple Watch for kids is something parents are embracing more and more. The New York Times ran a story in September 2022 about Apple Watch adoption among children as young as five. Parents are finding the Apple Watch more appropriate for kids wanting smartphones. The Apple Watch gives kids a way to stay in touch with parents, share location, and build responsibility without the full cost and risk of a smartphone.
Apple Watch for kids
The Apple Watch gives kids a way to stay in touch with parents, share location, and build responsibility without the full cost and risk of a smartphone.
With very limited access to the web and no social media apps, the watch can be a great starter device for kids if parents are looking for a manageable way to introduce technology early.
Family Setup for Apple Watch
Apple’s Family Setup feature allows parents to set up a cellular Apple Watch SE or Series 4 and higher from their iPhone. No iPhone required for the family member.
While the monthly connection fee is typically around $10 plus fees, T-Mobile has a kid-friendly plan with unlimited calling and 500MB/month that’s half the price with auto-pay. This is convenient if you’re already a T-Mobile subscriber and want to save on a watch plan for your child.
There’s even a special mode with Family Setup called Schooltime that restricts the Apple Watch during school hours. Parents can remotely manage this from their iPhone.
Watch bands that fit kids
I happen to have a five-year-old who owns my heart. While I don’t think he’s quite ready for an Apple Watch, I was curious about watch band compatibility with kid-sized wrists. He happily let me borrow his little wrist for testing.
Any bands I already had weren’t fitting for a small wrist. Trying an Apple Watch band specifically made for kids worked great, though. For under $15, this Nike Sport style band with a buckle was a perfect fit.
Best Apple Watch prices for kids
As a trial introduction to the semi-smartphone world for kids, new Apple Watches can be a bit pricey. A new 40mm Apple Watch SE 2 with cellular goes for $299. That’s why hand-me-down watches with cellular are great for Family Setup.
Another option is shopping for second-hand Apple Watches from places like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and Amazon’s refurbished inventory. I’ve found a 40mm cellular SE for $120 locally, and Amazon’s Renewed Store has very similar offers.
Just be sure to look for GPS + Cellular if you want to use Family Setup. 40mm or 41mm sizes are also more kid-friendly than 44mm or 45mm.
Also avoid Apple Watch Series 3 if you want to set up a watch for a child without an iPhone. You can find models with cellular for cheap, but they don’t receive software updates anymore. More importantly, they don’t work with Family Setup and require the wearer to have an iPhone.