Garmin Bounce kids smartwatch review: Will make both kids and parents happy


As a parent in 2023, it can be difficult help my kids use connected devices safely. But because my kids love being on the go, I want to have a way to keep tabs on and communicate with them. Sure, I could just get my kids a smartphone, like the Gabb Phone Plus, but sometimes a phone is more than a kid needs or a parent wants. That’s where a smartwatch designed for kids can be a great option, and the Garmin Bounce is a solid choice.

Garmin is known for making some excellent smartwatches, especially for those into fitness. The Bounce isn’t the first kid’s device from Garmin — the vivofit jr 3 is a fitness band-style wearable with some nice features for kids. The Bounce offers all the same benefits as the vivofit jr 3 but brings in location tracking and communication features in a more traditional smartwatch-styled package.

Parents control who the watch can communicate with, reduce distractions, set reminders, and more, all from the companion app. The watch itself provides great battery life, so you won’t need to worry about your child forgetting to charge the device at night, which is great since the Bounce can track sleep. Thanks to both cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity, the smartwatch is a great option for parents who want their kids to have the ability to communicate and have peace of mind knowing where their child is. It isn’t a perfect device, but it’s a fantastic option for many families.

A render of the Garmin Bounce kids smartwatch with a green-colored band.
Garmin Bounce


The Garmin Bounce is one of the most feature-packed smartwatches for kids out there. It comes with all the essentials like LTE and Wi-Fi support, the ability to track your kids’ whereabouts, and more. It’s also relatively affordable, making it an excellent option for parents and kids alike.

42.0 mm x 42.4 mm x 12.6 mm (Band size: 115 mm to 180 mm)
Screen Size
1.3-inch (33.1 mm) diagonal
Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi, LTE (with subscription)
Battery life
up to 2 days
Voice and text messaging
GPS, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor
Android, iOS
Water resistance
5 ATM (up to 50 meters)
Age Recommendation
6-12 years
Number of Colors
Green Burst, Black Camo, Lilac Floral


  • Great battery life
  • Track steps and sleep
  • Offers geofencing
  • Can set tasks with rewards


  • Proprietary charging cable
  • No voice calls
  • Screen is hard to read in bright light

Garmin Bounce: Pricing and availability

  • Garmin announced the Bounce in November 2022.
  • It retails for $150 and is only through Garmin’s website.
  • It is available in three colors.
Garmin Bounce speaker

The Garmin Bounce was announced in November 2022 exclusively through Garmin’s website for $150, but it’s seen discounts since its launch. You can choose between three colors: Green Burst, Black Camo, and Lilac Floral​​​​​.

Design and hardware: Nothing flashy

  • The Bounce is lightweight and very durable
  • There is no camera on the watch
  • The battery life is fantastic
Garmin Bounce lifestyle 3

The Garmin Bounce doesn’t go out of its way to be a sleek, modern-looking smartwatch, but it doesn’t have to. Because it’s designed for kids, it needs to be functional, durable, and comfortable — and it nails it from that standpoint.

My son and I tested out the Green Burst color option, which is more of a teal than a true green. So, keep that in mind if your child is a stickler for colors. Regardless of the Bounce color you choose, the watch strap is soft and stretchy with a design to complement the color name. But should you want to swap out bands, the watch can take any standard 20mm strap.

Most of the watch case matches the strap and color scheme, but the top third and the buttons are black regardless of the color option. The physical buttons on the right side flank the microphone port and are used for various watch functions like going back to the home screen, opening the app drawer, going back a page, and others. Of course, since there is a touchscreen, most navigation is done with swipes and taps. My son had no trouble quickly learning how to get around the watch’s interface.

Garmin Bounce butons and microphone

The display is big enough that a kid’s smaller fingers can easily hit the touchpoints in the UI. The 1.3-inch LCD panel has decent color production and is snappy in its touch response. The one area that stood out in terms of improvements for the display is the maximum brightness. Visibility was fine in most instances except in direct sunlight. It wasn’t impossible to read, but it was difficult.

On the watch’s backside is a sticker with some certification info and the Garmin Bounce moniker. It’s also where you’ll find the charge point. While it is unfortunate Garmin opted to use a proprietary charging method, the cable does clip in nicely and doesn’t wiggle loose.

As for the battery, Garmin doesn’t state its capacity but that the watch is rated to last up to two days per charge. During testing, that was pretty much average, although I sometimes got more. However, even with the best smartphones and the top smartwatches for adults, it can be rare to achieve the stated battery life. So, it’s good to see the Bounce meeting and sometimes exceeding expectations. Just keep in mind that depending on how the watch is used, the battery life can vary.

Opposite the buttons is the speaker for hearing back voice messages. While many kids’ smartwatches offer a camera for taking photos and video calling, Garmin chooses to omit that feature. I get not including the camera on a kid watch from a cost and privacy standpoint, but it can also be an excellent option when talking with a child who may not be able to describe where they are or what they are seeing well.

Garmin Bounce in dircect sunlight

Features for the kids: Fun without being distracting

  • Offers basic games on the watch without being overly distracting
  • Kids can connect with friends who have a Bounce and have competitions
  • Daily step, sleep, and activity tracking is available
  • Kids can manually send their location along with sending text and voice messages
Garmin Bounce lifestyle 4

While my 10-year-old son told me he wished it had a camera and could stream music, which is what the TickTalk 4 kids smartwatch does, there are things about the Garmin Bounce he really likes. He didn’t like me constantly telling him to check the watch, so he could know what time it was, but he did appreciate its slim profile and how light it feels.

The Bounce also offers that many other kids smartwatches don’t: games. These aren’t high-end, graphic-intensive games, but they’re good for occupying their attention or passing the time. There are only three choices — Math Flash, Puzzle Slider, and Toe-to-Toe.

Garmin even included a social aspect for the Bounce where your child can connect and compete in challenges with those who also have a Garmin fitness device. But the one that kids will more likely be interested in involves connecting to other kids with a Bounce nearby for different challenges. It encourages kids to be active, and adding friends only makes it more fun to use.

Garmin Bounce activity history

While the Garmin Bounce is a smartwatch, it’s also a fitness tracker. So it will monitor steps, the amount of time active, and sleep automatically. But if your child knows they’re starting an activity like running, biking, swimming, or others, they can manually start tracking it with the watch for more detailed results. As the parent, you can create goals and rewards for meeting the goals within the companion app. More on that later.

A feature that both parents and kids will like is the manual check-in button. Kids can quickly tap a button on the watch to send their location to let their parents know they have arrived at a location. This way, kids can help keep their parents from worrying without having to send a message and look “uncool” to their friends, and parents won’t have to bug them or check the location tracking tab in the app.

Features for the parents: Safety features for peace of mind

  • Parents can create chores and tasks with rewards
  • Location tracking and geofencing are available.
  • Using the companion app, parents can manage who their child can communicate with.
  • Parents can also create daily step and activity goals for their children.
Garmin Bounce lifestyle 1-1

While we as parents just want our kids to be happy, sometimes it can be difficult to balance the joy of a connected device with safety. Thankfully, Garmin has done a good job of incorporating fun designs and features while giving parents plenty of ways to not only secure the watch but keep track of their child.

Aside from the already mentioned Check-in button on the watch for on-demand location sharing, parents can locate the device anytime in the Garmin Jr companion app. Doing so will show where the watch is on a map. There are also options for location history showing where the watch has been and an option for live tracking that will continuously ping the watch’s location for up to 30 minutes or until you cancel the tracking.

Garmin has done a good job of incorporating fun designs and features while giving parents plenty of ways to not only secure the watch but keep track of their child.

One of my favorite features of the Garmin Bounce, and many other kids smartwatches, is the ability to create a geofence. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s essentially a way to make a virtual fence around a location on a map. Once your child enters or leaves that area, you’ll get a notification on your smartphone. I have one for my kids’ school and one for when my son visits a friend’s house, so I know he’s made it and if they leave.

This is all done using the Garmin Jr companion app, which is relatively easy to use. It allows you to both communicate with your child and monitor the watch itself. You can see how many steps your child has taken for the day and also, historically, see activity history, sleep tracking, and more.

A fear of many parents is that their kid will be distracted by the watch during class — and it’s a valid one. Thankfully, Garmin included both a School Mode and do not disturb options. School Mode is where you can set the days and timeframe that the watch is either silent or silent and restricted. By choosing the latter, the Bounce essentially turns into a standard watch from your child’s perspective and blocks the messaging and games from use until the timeframe you set has passed (emergency messaging will still be available).

Garmin Bounce quick toggles

Something I really appreciated when I tested the Garmin vivofit Jr 3 while at Android Central was the feature that let me create chores or tasks for my child, and Garmin did the same with the Bounce. From the companion app, parents can choose from preset chores/tasks or create their own. Then, you can assign how many stars your child will earn by completing them. There is a tab where parents can create different rewards and tie a star value to them, so the child can then “purchase” a reward with stars earned by completing the assigned tasks.

From a safety standpoint, perhaps the best part of the Bounce is that it can only communicate with those you allow it to. Parents can add up to 20 contacts in the app, which the watch is allowed to send and receive messages from. This means that if you want your child to be able to contact grandma and grandpa, you’ll need to add them to the companion app first.

However, don’t expect to have a phone call with the Bounce. Only preset text messages, emojis, and voice messages are available with the watch. Garmin provides 16 preset messages, but you can edit, remove, and have up to 20 available for your child to choose from when texting approved contacts.

Connectivity: Only one choice

  • The watch can only be connected to Garmin’s cellular plan
  • Wi-Fi is also available to help with poor cellular coverage
Garmin Bounce homescreen

Ok, technically, there are two options when it comes to connectivity — Wi-Fi and cellular. However, the watch only works with Garmin’s own service. It’s unclear if it plans to partner with a cellular carrier or not, but Garmin does offer a coverage map and details what features the Bounce has on the LTE network. As far as the cost to use Garmin’s LTE service, it is relatively affordable at $10/month or $100/annually.

Overall the watch did a pretty good job of maintaining cellular connectivity. My home sits in an area that gets terrible mobile coverage from all major U.S. carriers. But, even inside my home, the Garmin Bounce had at least two bars of cellular signal. However, if it loses that connection, the watch can use Wi-Fi to bolster its connected needs.

I’m very glad that Garmin chose to add Wi-Fi to the watch because I’ve tested many that don’t. Do keep in mind, though, that you need to add a Wi-Fi network to the Garmin Jr app first before connecting to it. So if your child’s device has poor cellular connectivity at school, the watch won’t connect to the free Wi-Fi available unless you manually add it.

Garmin Bounce: Should you buy it?

Garmin Bounce lifestyle 2

You should buy the Garmin Bounce if:

  • You want a smartwatch for your child that isn’t overly complicated.
  • You don’t want your child to have a camera on their smartwatch.
  • You don’t want to worry about charging your child’s watch every night.
  • You want to create geofence locations to help keep track of your child.

You should not buy the Garmin Bounce if:

  • You want to call your child on their watch.
  • You want the ability to make video calls with your child.
  • You want to use your cell provider with the watch.

Garmin has done a great job with the Bounce. While there are cheaper watches out there marketed for kids, the vast majority of them are no more than glorified toys or don’t offer the privacy and safety features found in more reputable brands — like Garmin.

Kids tend to learn and adapt to gadgets quickly, and the already intuitive Bounce interface means that children will have little trouble figuring out how to use the watch. By removing or reducing many unnecessary functions, like games or cameras, the watch becomes not only easier to use but less distracting. While a camera has its benefits, it isn’t for everyone.

But the excellent battery life and safety/location features are great to see on the watch. While some may prefer to use the watch on their preferred cellular provider instead of Garmin, the cost and quality of service aren’t too bad. Even though I do wish the Bounce could make and receive phone or video calls, I think it is a fantastic device for kids ages 6-12. It has features kids will enjoy, and the added safety options will keep parents happy too.

A render of the Garmin Bounce kids smartwatch with a green-colored band.
Garmin Bounce


The Garmin Bounce is one of the most feature-packed smartwatches for kids out there. It comes with all the essentials like LTE and Wi-Fi support, the ability to track your kids’ whereabouts, and more. It’s also relatively affordable, making it an excellent option for parents and kids alike.