Alexa, the smart, witty, voice-controlled personal assistant of sorts, is a fun, useful addition to households and a staple of many smart home systems. No more lugging out a phone book to find a number or the dictionary to check the spelling of a word—just ask Alexa. Want to hear a funny joke, have a question about the weather or need to order some dish soap? Alexa is at your (voice) command, usually through one of the several Echo devices.
All that helpfulness, however, also opens up doors to unwanted territory for children. Just like any other technology that provides access to the internet, Alexa can take them places their parents just aren’t ready for them to go. Fortunately, there are some Alexa parental controls that can be easily enabled.
First, it’s important to note that you must set the parental controls for each Alexa-enabled device individually. That means if your child has an Echo Dot in their bedroom, and there’s an Amazon Echo in your kitchen, you’ll have to do this twice. Here’s how:
FreeTime is Amazon’s platform for parental controls across all its products and services. To enable it on your smart speakers, go to the Alexa app and select Settings, then Device Settings. There you’ll see a list of all your Alexa devices. For each one you want to set parental controls, scroll down to General, then select Setup Amazon FreeTime.
If you’ve already set up FreeTime for your children on other devices, you’ll see them listed here. If you haven’t set up FreeTime for them yet, choose Add Child for each child who will be using the device, and follow the prompts to enter information about them. This will then automatically block explicit music lyrics, filter the answers given to questions and prohibit voice purchasing on the devices associated with their account.
You can set parental controls by visiting the Parent Dashboard within your Amazon account. There, you’ll see a list of the devices for which you’ve set up FreeTime and can adjust the controls as you see fit. Here are some you may consider:
Restrict Explicit Music
Music on command is great, but if you don’t want your kids hearing expletive-filled tunes, you can restrict your devices to play more age-appropriate music. Under Account Settings, click Music & Podcasts, then activate the Explicit Language Filter. It will block explicit content from any of the music streaming services used, including Spotify, Amazon Music and others. You can also set limits within the individual streaming apps.
When you set an Alexa account up as a child’s, it automatically turns off the ability to make purchases via Alexa. Sorry kids, no shopping sprees! If you want to be able to make purchases on a device yourself, then you can set a PIN that will then be required in order to make purchases. To do so, go to Voice Purchasing under Account Settings where you’ll establish a four-digit PIN. You can also turn off all Purchase by Voice there.
If you don’t want your children making calls via Skype or accepting drop-in calls from anyone, check the app to make sure calling isn’t enabled. Under Communication, you can disable it. You can also limit calls to make sure you’re only getting drop-ins from people within your home, by selecting “My Household” under Communication.
Turn on Do Not Disturb
If you do allow drop-ins and calls, but don’t want your kid’s sleep or homework time interrupted by them and other notifications, you can set a schedule as to when they’re allowed. Under Settings, click Do Not Disturb, then Scheduled; there, you can enter times for the communications and notifications to start and stop for the day.
Set Time Restrictions
If you want to add time limits for kids’ access to Alexa during certain hours all together, you can do that too. Under the Parent Dashboard, go to Daily Limits and adjust them as you see fit.
Review Voice History
Got reason to worry? If you want to see what your kids have been talking to Alexa about and how often, you can do so within the Alexa app. Under Settings, choose Alexa Privacy and you can review their activity there.
To further filter content by age and get access to kid-friendly content, parents may also consider a subscription to FreeTime Unlimited. Subscriptions start at $2.99/month after a 30-day free trial, and a free year’s subscription is included with some devices.
Bottom Line on Alexa Parental Controls
Setting parental controls is a great way to make Alexa a more age-appropriate resource for kids, but, of course, these controls aren’t 100 percent foolproof. You still must monitor your children’s usage and have open and honest conversations with them about your expectations, potential dangers and any consequences if they misuse Alexa or any other device.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.
Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. A member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years, Officer Banta reviews all articles before lending his stamp of approval. Click here for more information on Officer Banta and the rest of our team.