Smartwatches have transformed the way that students of any age can stay on top of information. You can check messages or to-do lists safely in class, where a smartphone would be too distracting or would get you in trouble. They give you an easy way to take quick notes on the go, so you don't forget an assignment, and have plenty of tools for tracking your extracurriculars.
If you're in the market for a great student smartwatch, whether it's for your kid or yourself, we've outlined our favorite tools across different devices to help anyone stay on task or better enjoy their school life. These tips should help you either unlock your current device's full potential, or find the right watch for you.
Check off your to-do lists
Both Wear OS and the Apple Watch have plenty of to-do list apps available that sync between your phone and watch. To name just a few, Todoist, Google Keep, and Any.Do will let you create daily task lists. Most apps will let you date and time your tasks as well, so they pop up on your wrist to remind you at the right moment.
Many kids watches have built-in to-do apps that let parents track their progress and offer virtual awards for completing them. And for older students living alone for the first time or starting jobs, an easily accessible to-do list will help them stay on top of their new responsibilities.
Keep yourself focused with a Pomodoro timer
The concept's simple: A Pomodoro timer challenges you to stay on task for just 25 minutes, then has timed short and long breaks to let your brain briefly recharge before diving back into that assignment. As someone who procrastinated his way through college, a Pomodoro timer would have been extremely helpful for forming better habits and staying on task.
You'll find Pomodoro apps on your phone or computer browser, but a watch timer is especially convenient to check without navigating away from your work or the temptation of picking up your phone. And as a side note, even without a timer, your stock clock watch face will be handy for keeping track of time during a test.
Don't miss a calendar reminder
I relied on a physical daily planner when I was a student, but nowadays a calendar app will carry you much farther. With Google Calendar, for instance, you can set up repeating calendar events for classes, add classmates' emails to events for group projects, or mark down social events you don't want to miss.
On your watch, you'll be able to check upcoming events for the day with a simple swipe or a few button-taps, so you don't have to worry about missing anything important.
Voice assistant = hands-free productivity
Students have so much going on in their lives that taking the time to type out a calendar reminder for every assignment or club activity isn't going to happen. They'll just assume they'll remember something that important... and then forget it anyway.
That's what makes watches' voice assistant feature so useful: While you're rushing to your next class, you can tell Google Assistant or Siri to create a calendar event or reminder without breaking your stride. Keeping a dedicated schedule is easier when you don't have to pull out a computer to type out every event or assignment.
Plus, new student drivers who'll be tempted to check their phones on the road can learn to voice-message friends on their watches instead — not ideal, but a much better alternative to distracted driving.
Fitness tracking and school go hand in hand
This may feel like a reach, but the fitness apps on a smartwatch could have just as much of a positive impact on school life as the productivity apps.
Younger kids will benefit from watches like the TickTalk 4 or Garmin Vivofit Jr 3, which track steps or minutes of activity to ensure your kid is getting their daily exercise during recess and P.E. The CDC says that "students who are physically active tend to have better grades, school attendance, cognitive performance (e.g., memory), and classroom behaviors (e.g., on-task behavior)." In other words, studies show that staying fit will keep you on task better than any reminder app could.
The same principles apply for older students, especially college students stepping away from organized sports to working out more independently. A fitness smartwatch will guide you towards getting or staying healthy, even if it won't have the same smarts as a typical lifestyle smartwatch.
Eliminate stress and practice calm
Students preparing for finals or AP tests could have their future riding on the results, and that can add a lot of pressure to your life. Plenty of smartwatches have begun to measure heart rate variance, an indicator of whether or not you're stressed, and to warn you if you need to step away from work and recover your composure.
If you're feeling stressed, watches like the Apple Watch Series 7 have breathing or "mindfulness" apps that encourage you to focus on deep breaths and push out negative thoughts. The same applies to many fitness trackers, which will measure your blood oxygen and pair the sensor with a feature that encourages slow breaths in and out.
Get a good night's sleep
Some students spend sleepless nights finishing overdue work; others spend those nights partying on frat row. Whatever the case, sleep deprivation is a huge barrier for retaining information, and plenty of students with poor impulse control may want a smartwatch that'll nudge them to bed, or give them a "bad grade" if they have a poor sleep score.
The new Galaxy Watch 5 has sleep coaching and a temperature sensor that'll judge how well you slept and recovered energy per night. Other watches from Garmin and Fitbit will judge your morning's "body battery" or "daily readiness," warning you if consistent low sleep or alcohol consumption is taking a toll. And for younger students, a kids watch may have sleep tracking that'll warn parents if their kids aren't sleeping properly at bedtime.
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Michael is Android Central's resident expert on fitness tech and wearables, with an enthusiast's love of VR tech on the side. After years freelancing for Techradar, Wareable, Windows Central, Digital Trends, and other sites on a variety of tech topics, AC has given him the chance to really dive into the topics he's passionate about. He's also a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves D&D, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings.
For wearables, Michael has tested dozens of smartwatches from Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung, Apple, COROS, Polar, Amazfit, and other brands, and will always focus on recommending the best product over the best brand. He's also completed marathons like NYC, SF, Marine Corps, Big Sur, and California International — though he's still trying to break that 4-hour barrier.