If you have kids living with you you’ll no doubt want to set up your Alexa or Google Assistant to make it fun, exciting and most of all safe for children to use. From avoiding playing adult song lyrics and inappropriate content to preventing shopping for goods and services, there are a number of different security measures you can take to make your Smart home system child friendly. (We’ll be talking about Alexa, but all other Smart Home Hubs operate in a similar fashion.)
First of all, make sure you have all your devices operating on the same account. Most of us have any number of different accounts with a variety of different service providers and it might seem like a good idea to segment your suppliers and accounts but with home automation this just makes things incredibly complicated, unnecessarily confusing and difficult to apply consistent security across all accounts. If you’re using Echo, create a dedicated Amazon account which you can use to manage and control all your apps, actions, recipes and skills. Having them all in one place will also mean that if any of your apps stop working you’ll know where to go to look for the updates and fixes. Having them all together on one Amazon account also means that all your connected devices should work together seamlessly without any need for special recipes or instructions.
You Can Swear By Alexa’s Adult Content Filters
Once you’re familiar with setting up and changing your account details your next move should be to turn on the adult content filter. This might mean that you only hear half of your favourite West Coast hardcore rap albums, but it does mean that the kids won’t be dropping the F and N bombs in the playground after listening to NWA unsupervised. To protect the little ones from the worst of the Thug Life, simply head over to your Alexa app and open up setting, select music and turn the explicit content button on. This will automatically filter all the media which will be coming through your home system to prevent the swears from playing.
Next you’ll want to turn off voice purchasing. You’ll surely have seen stories in the news where kids have been allowed to play with their parents’ devices and run up huge debts buying credits and additional levels for the games they’ve been playing. Now imagine if they could just wander around the house telling Alexa to buy them presents all day! Turning off voice purchasing is one of the things any reasonable person would want to turn off immediately, because anyone who Alexa can hear is able to buy things on your account if it’s left on. Again, simply open your Alexa app and select settings, Alexa account, and turn the toggle off.
Choose The Skill, Prepare For Child Friendly Thrills!
Now you’ve finished turning things off, it’s time to start something positive and begin turning things on! Alexa has a number of Kids’ Skills available but you have to choose the ones you want for your family. Some may not be age appropriate, or you might not like the idea of your automated home technology being used as a plaything instead of a tool. You have the option of turning all kids’ skills on, selecting a certain few, or you can let Alexa identify when a kids’ skill has been requested and ask you for your permission by enabling it via the app.
Because all your devices communicate with one another, you can also use them to communicate with one another too. You can use smart speakers very much like an intercom between specific speakers, or to broadcast announcements throughout the house. Drop In allows you to communicate with another device in the home, or start a conversation with any of your contacts throughout the world. You can exclude any device you like from Drop In, including your own if you don’t want anyone Dropping In on you when you don’t want them to. Again, the control is via the app, select contacts, then permissions and choose which devices you want enabled either for Drop In or Announcement. It’s wide to turn off Messaging from all of your devices if you don’t intend to use them much because there is always the possibility of sending messages to anyone in your contacts simply by mentioning their name in conversation.
It’s Bedtime, And When The Children Go To Sleep, Alexa Should Go To Sleep Too
Alexa never sleeps, but you can either turn it off, or tell it you don’t want to be disturbed. The Do Not Disturb utility will let you make sure the device won’t start making any noise during times when the kids are supposed to be asleep. You can set this by opening up the menu on each individual device and setting the Do Not Disturb times when you want the device to remain silent.
Finally, bear in mind that although your children are well brought up cherubs who are respectful of boundaries and obey the rules you set, it’s possible that they will want to test boundaries from time to time and although you set the device the best you can, there’s always the chance that the cheeky ones will get up to shenanigans. Remind them that access to connected devices is a privilege and not a toy and remember you have the power to entirely block certain devices from the home hub if they don’t use it responsibly.
If you are thinking of introducing Alexa to your home, why not give Briant Communications a call? We’re expert in all aspect of installing a range of Smart home devices from access control (door intercoms) and and CCTV to light and heat. Simpy click on the Contact Us link to book an appointment.