Google Home is one of several options in the personal voice assistant space that kids love to use. And what’s not to love? From jokes to homework help and answers to their most burning questions, a Google Home smart speaker provides access to a wealth of entertainment and educational opportunities with just a simple voice command starting with, “Okay, Google…”
As with any device that provides access to the internet, however, Google Home also presents potential pitfalls and challenges for parents who aren’t ready for their kids to have unlimited access to all its capabilities. Inappropriate content and songs with raunchy lyrics, plus the ability to go on a shopping spree with a simple voice command, are just a few reasons parents might not want to give children full access to Google Home’s features. Fortunately, however, there are parental controls parents can set to make Google Home a more kid-appropriate device.
Create Your Kid’s Account
You can use Google Family Link to establish a separate account for each member of your family and link their voice to their account. That ensures that Google Home will recognize the filters you set for them. For example, if they tell Google Home to play a song that happens to be explicit, the request can be denied.
To link your child’s voice to their account, open the Family Link app from your phone and select your child, then select the device or devices you want to link it to. Then give your device to your child and they can walk through the voice recognition prompts, repeating phrases such as “Hey, Google” and “Okay, Google.” The process will just take a few minutes.
Beyond Google Home recognizing their voice and filtering the content appropriately, you can also use Family Link to monitor how much time your child is spending using Google Home and how they’re using it.
Set Up Digital Wellbeing
Digital Wellbeing provides tools to help you provide limits on your Google Home Device. To set it up, go to Settings under the Google Home app and click Digital Wellbeing. Once you do this, you can set up Filters and Downtime.
Using filters, you have the capability to:
- Block explicit music and mature videos. If you don’t want your children listening to profanity laced lyrics or having access to raunchy video content, you can choose to restrict content or even block all music and/or videos if you so choose.
- Limit answers. Not ready for your kids getting the birds-and-bees rundown—at least, not from Google Home? You can click Restrict Answers (found under Additional Controls), and they’ll only hear more basic things like the day’s chances of rain.
- Block calls. Also found under the Additional Controls, you can choose to either Allow calls or Block Calls.
Google Home devices support multiple user accounts, and you can pick and choose which users you want the filters to apply to. If you select Everyone under Filters, then content will be filtered for all users. If you don’t want to go that far, you can select Only Supervised Accounts and Guests. In that case, the filters won’t be applied to your personal account or any accounts that you haven’t marked as “supervised” in Family Link.
You can also set filters for specific devices. For example, you may want the filters turned on in the living room, but off in your own bedroom.
With Downtime you can set time periods during which your Google Home device will be largely disabled. You set a start and an end time, and during that period, calls and other notifications won’t come through, and it won’t respond to questions and commands. Alarms and timers will still work though if you have set them.
Block Kids from Making Purchases
To keep your kids from going on a shopping spree for their favorite toys or ordering a truckload of their favorite candy, you can turn off the ability to make purchases on a device-by-device basis. For example, maybe you want to turn off purchases for the Google Home in a child’s playroom, but keep it on in the kitchen. To do so, go to Settings on the Google Home app, then More. Under Payments, you can choose to turn Pay with your Assistant off for each speaker you want to block from making purchases.
Final Thoughts on Google Home Parental Controls
Just like any device that provides access to the internet, Google Home does pose some risks for children. While setting these parental controls is a great start, know that in many cases kids today are steps ahead of us when it comes to finding workarounds and loopholes. None of these controls are foolproof, so stay vigilant. Talk to your kids about appropriate digital behavior and monitor them regularly.
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.