Garmin’s new swim-friendly vivofit jr. 2 activity tracker for kids does more than count your child’s daily energy burn and monitor the quality of their sleep – it also allows you as a parent to supervise chores in a fun, positive manner, as well as reward good behaviour via your smartphone. And, to help keep them motivated, only when they meet their 60-minute daily activity goals do they get to advance in an exciting themed app adventure game developed by Disney.

Developing the gazillion of healthy lifestyle habits required to turn us all into functional, well-rounded adults is hard work, especially for the parents! And I’m not just referring to getting your sedentary little one away from a screen and playing outside more, although this is extremely important. I’m also talking about them learning how to take responsibility for things and complete their chores. Johnny, did you brush your teeth? Sally, you promised to feed the hamster! Chances are, if you have youngsters under your roof, minor conflicts of interest like these happen every day.

Sticking stars on fridge-mounted charts in the kitchen (then maybe having to remove them again later) has always been a good traditional go-to plan for grown-ups wanting to instil positive lifestyle habits in their offspring. Fortunately, with the advent of their new swim-friendly vivofit jr. 2 activity tracker for kids, Garmin has come up with a better high-tech strategy – one that elicits willing cooperation, rather than stubborn obfuscation and excuses from your young brood. And they did it in an extremely cunning fashion, too; by teaming up with Disney and turning the entire exercise into a fun, app-based smartphone/tablet game.

Garmin vivofit jr. 2 features at a glance

  • Swim-friendly activity tracker for children available in three different Disney themes.
  • Kid-tough stretchy or adjustable band to suit different age groups.
  • Features an always-on, customisable colour screen and up to 1 year battery life.
  • Syncs with free mobile app, which includes chore management and schedule alert tools for parents.
  • Kids advance in three themed adventures by meeting their 60-minute daily activity goals.
  • Tracks steps, sleep and 60 minutes of daily recommended activity.

Making exercise and doing chores more fun
Just like Mom and Dad, Garmin’s new vivofit jr. 2 activity tracker and its accompanying free parent-controlled mobile app make the perfect tag team.

The device is available in three different themed Disney bands and comes in two different sizes – with the smaller version (ages 4 – 7) featuring a stretchy band, and the larger model (ages 6 +) coming with an adjustable strap. Themes include Minnie Mouse, the cute little droid BB-8 from Star Wars and Marvel’s Captain America. And each theme comes with a corresponding mobile app adventure game. In them, children can complete missions to advance in the journey and unlock new character step icons with the help of their parents – but only after achieving their allotted 60 minutes of activity every day, the amount recommended for children by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

On the parental side, the free app allows you to review your child’s daily activities (the vivofit jr. 2’s built-in accelerometer and clever algorithms capture every movement). Even better, you can assign any number of chores, which show up as easy to understand icons on the device your child’s wearing – all nice and conveniently from your smartphone. You can also schedule alerts (which can be set up to recur weekly or daily) to nudge your procrastinating offspring into doing their homework, making their beds or brushing their teeth. The task timer on the vivofit jr. 2 lets your child know how long they have left for each chore, for example “brush teeth for 2 minutes”. And when they get things right, you can award them with virtual coins, which can be redeemed for real-world rewards such as concessions or cold hard cash later.

Garmin has also thrown a fun game into the mix that all children who have vivofit jr. 2 activity trackers can play. Called Toe-to-Toe, it’s a step challenge that lets kids sync with nearby friends to challenge each other to one-on-one challenges – or even themselves – to timed step competitions. Once complete, they get to see their total number of steps during the challenge and find out if they triumphed over their friends or beat their own personal best. And the great thing is the entire game is controlled right from their wrists, leaving them completely in control.

The app also allows for the creation of multiple profiles, so parents and siblings with compatible Garmin devices can also have their steps listed on the step leaderboard – promoting healthy competition amongst the whole family.

“The vivofit jr. 2 is all about making fitness fun for kids, instilling at a young age the joy of leading an active lifestyle,” said Cliff Pemble, Garmin president and CEO. “We are honoured to team up in such a unique way with Disney, tapping into the brilliance of their creative storytelling experts. Through collaborating across the brands of Disney, Star Wars and Marvel and infusing their characters and stories into our product and mobile app, we’re able to offer kids and their parents a gamified approach to fitness like no other.”

The games you and your kids can play
No matter which game your child prefers, every day a new adventure unfolds, motivating them to keep hitting their daily exercise targets so they can play. In each one you’re an active partner lending a helping hand. And should you child become bored with the game, no sweat – you can just purchase another themed band and continue as before along a different storyline.

When playing the Minnie Mouse themed game, your helpful little character goes along with Minnie and her friends in adventures as they plan a surprise birthday party for Mickey Mouse. Along the journey, you and your child get to decorate for the party with Daisy Duck, whip up the birthday cake with Goofy, and get everything ready while making sure Mickey Mouse doesn’t find out!

When embarking on the Star Wars inspired BB-8 game you become a co-pilot for your little rebel as he or she teams up with the cute droid and the pilot Zepha to tackle adventures on the planet Jakku. You and your budding Jedi knight get to search abandoned star ships for missing parts, meet the smuggler queen, Maz Kanata, and help rescue your friend BB-8 when his fate hangs in the balance.

And in Ultron’s Revenge: A Marvel Avengers Mission you become sidekick to your superhero-in-training as they team up with Captain America and the Avengers to tackle app adventures in New York while trying to defeat Ultron. While fighting for freedom and justice you’ll also get to meet the invincible Iron Man at Tony Stark’s lab, help Thor capture the mischievous Loki, and accompany Black Widow on top secret S.H.I.E.L.D. missions

“Disney is committed to creating healthier generations, and we’ve worked with Garmin to make healthy living fun with a wearable product featuring the characters and stories we know kids love,” said Josh Silverman, executive vice president, global licensing, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media at the launch of the Garmin vivosport jr. 2. “By combining Garmin’s expertise in wearable technologies with Disney storytelling, we’re entering a category with the potential to influence the way kids stay active.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I think getting youngsters to exercise more, adhere to the rules around the home and complete their chores by using a smartphone/tablet game as a motivating carrot is pure genius! – (c) 2017 NavWorld

Garmin vivofit jr. 2 specifications:

Sizes: Stretchy band: fits wrists up to 147 mm; Adjustable band fit wrists 130 – 175 mm; works with vivofit 3 bands.
Display size: 11 mm x 11 mm.
Built-in memory: 4 weeks of activity data.
Battery life: Up to 1 year (user replaceable).
Water rating: 5 ATM
Weight: 17.5 grams.
Onboard sensors: Accelerometer
Health/fitness features: Step counter; Measures Activity Minutes; Move Bar; Sleep monitoring.

You can check out Garmin’s introductory video below explaining how the vivofit jr. 2 works. I went with the BB-8 droid theme because I’m a Star Wars nut!


About The Author

Sean Woods

Originally a photographer for the Star newspaper in the bad old days, Sean Woods turned to writing after the first democratic elections in '94. The career shift paid serious dividends, culminating in him becoming associate editor for Popular Mechanics magazine with a number of technology writing awards under his belt. His interests include anything to do with boats, motorcycles and all those fancy tech gadgets that help the modern world go around.

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