How to Set Parental Controls on Google Nest, Amazon Echo

Smart speakers come with some built-in parental controls.

Smart speakers come with some built-in parental controls.
Picture: Amazon

If you own a smart speaker or two and also have kidsyou know they’re very tech savvy, shouting commands to Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant like it’s second nature.

Even though your kids know more about your smart speakers and their capabilities than you do, you don’t necessarily want them to access all the features or information.whether it’s music with inappropriate lyrics or the list of work meetings you have on your calendar.

Every major smart speaker on the market comes with some parental controls you can enable, although some devices are more comprehensive than others in this department. Here’s how to configure them.

Google Nest

If you have a Google Nest (formerly Google Home) speaker in your homethere are several options for restricting what children can access and hear through these devices. First, you can open the Google Home app on your phone, then tap Settings and Digital well-being. From the next screen you can set up both filters and a downtime schedule for any of your speakers.

Filters cover music, podcasts, news, calls, and posts. You can also limit the speaker to “family-friendly actions” from here, whatever that means. The downtime schedule, on the other hand, allows you to set specific times when the speaker will not work, except for alarms, timers, and home automation requests.

Configuring filters in the Google Home app.

Configuring filters in the Google Home app.
Screenshot: google

Other settings can be found by choosing the Nest speaker on the Google Home app home page, then tapping the cog icon (top right). Take Notifications and Digital Wellbeing and you can access the options we’ve already looked at, plus settings for alerts, night mode, do not disturb, and more.

If you want to use parental controls for your Google Nest speakers, you can set up your children with their own Google accounts and add them as part of your Google Family Link group. The speakers are smart enough to recognize your children’s voices and adapt responses accordingly. FFrom the Family Link app on your phone, select Manage settings, Google Assistantand Add your child to new devices.

Amazon Echo

Parental controls for Amazon Echo speakers are pretty comprehensive – you can even buy Echos that are specifically for children-and they combine settings from the Alexa app on your phone and the Amazon Parent Dashboard on the Web. Yes you have babies, then you have already added them via this dashboard.

On the Alexa smartphone app, faucet Devices, Echo and Alexa, then the speaker you want to work with. Tap the cog icon (top right) to access the device settings screen, scroll down and choose Amazon Kids. Activate the function to configure parental controls. IIf you don’t already have child accounts linked to your main Amazon account, you’ll be prompted to add them now.

Amazon has a whole family management system.

Amazon has a whole family management system.
Screenshot: Amazon

Once done, press Amazon Settings for Kids on the same screen to control what your kids are allowed to do. These settings cover daily time limits across multiple devices, the type of content they can access, and more. Tap on the Echo speaker to configure that particular device: you can enable an explicit filter for music and enable or disable communication features such as calls and messaging.

Login the web interface for your Amazon family and you can access all the settings available on your phone and then some, for example, additional options cover website filtering. The echo you specified as child-friendly can be accessed from here, also, and if you need, you can add multiple children to a single speaker.

Apple HomePod

If you own a HomePod or HomePod Minithere are no specific parental controls to set up, but you can make your Apple smart speaker a little more family-friendly.friendly. From your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, find HomePod or HomePod Mini in the Home app, then long-press or double-click its icon.

Click or tap the cog icon (bottom right) to access HomePod or HomePod Mini settings. The first to note is the Allow explicit content toggle switch, which you’ll probably want to turn off if you have little ones running around within earshot of the smart speaker. This blocks music and podcasts that have been marked as explicit in your library.

Options on the HomePod and HomePod Mini are more limited.

Options on the HomePod and HomePod Mini are more limited.
Screenshot: Apple

Further down the menu, tap or click Personal requests and deactivate the function. This prevents your children (or anyone else passing in front of your Apple speaker) from sending messages, making calls or creation of reminders via the Apple ID associated with HomePod or HomePod Mini. Of course, that also means you can’t access those features either, but you might consider it worth it.

Depending on where the speaker is located and how you use it, you may want to assign the Apple ID of one of your children, if you have set up Family Sharing. You can change the Apple ID that HomePod or HomePod Mini uses for music and podcast control by tapping the icon Main user enter in the settings, and choose someone else from your family (there is also a generic HomePod account choice here). Note, however, that this account is only used if Siri’s voice recognition capabilities cannot tell who is speaking the voice commands.

James V. Hayes