When you think about getting Google Home and Assistant, what you probably have in mind is controlling a smart home and accessing convenient updates. But did you know that it comes with tons of features and functionalities that can make parenting easier too? As a busy parent, you may agree that you need all the help you can get. And Google Assistant has a few tricks up her sleeves that could get things done and streamline processes.
Before we get started and explore the details on how it all works, you might be wondering, “Is Google Home suitable for kids?”
Searching for an answer? Here’s our table of contents:
Can kids use Google Home?
YES! As naturally curious beings, your little ones are likely highly inquisitive about the virtual assistant sharing their space. They are, in fact, having a great time interacting with Google Assistant. A major reason for this is that it contains an ever-expanding library of content specifically designed for pint-sized users. These include games, quizzes and lots of other playful and interactive content.
However, as a parent, you might for good reason be concerned about the safety of kids’ interactions with Google Home and Assistant.
Is Google Home kid friendly and safe?
For Google Home and Assistant to work and provide answers to your queries and content to meet your needs, they require an internet connection. For this reason, it comes with the inherent dangers associated with the online world. As such, if you choose to get your kids in on the fun, you need to exercise due diligence so as to shield them from potential dangers.
Being aware of such dangers, Google has taken measures to make Google Assistant kid-friendly and safe. We will discuss some of the available safety and security precautions in greater detail below.
Does Google Home have a kids edition?
Unfortunately, Google Home does not have a smart speaker specifically meant for kids yet. But most of its kiddy features are accessible on all Google Home devices, with a few exceptions. The most important thing is to familiarize yourself with available kids’ features and how to access them. But before we get to that, let’s look at how to set up Google Home for kids and how to use it.
How to set up Google Home for kids
Google Home works for kids the same way as it does for adults. But there are a few things that children below the age of 13 cannot do. These include:
- Playing songs from YouTube Music and viewing YouTube videos
- Playing songs from Google Play Music (unless you get the family plan or an individual subscription)
- Making purchases
- Using non-Google apps
Note that for these limitations to apply, you need to create a Google Home child account for your young one. The key to knowing how to use Google Home for kids is identifying the relevant features and using them to control interactions.
How to link a Google Home child account and voice
To make the most of Google Home in a household context, it would be best to set up multiple users. This allows each user to get personalized responses to their requests. It also ensures that no one tampers with anyone else’s calendars, reminders and to-do lists. Thankfully, you can find almost everything you need to manage your kids’ use of Assistant under Family Link. In addition to personalizing the experience to each kid, it also places adults in control of kids’ accounts.
Family Link is an app designed to help you create a healthy digital atmosphere for everyone in the family. As a parent, you must know that the quantity and quality of screen time matters. With this app, you can view their activity to determine the amount of time they are spending with Assistant and what they are doing.
If you have created a Google Home account for a child under the age of 13, you need to set up a Home device before linking their voice and account. Notably, if you add supervision to a child’s existing Google account, your young one can set up Google Home and even sign in on the Google Home app. Before going to the next step, ensure that your child’s device and Google Home speaker are using the same Wi-Fi network.
Here are the steps for linking your child’s account:
- Open the Family Link app
- Select the name of the child
- Tap ‘Manage Settings’
- Go to ‘Google Assistant’
- Tap ‘Add your child to new devices’
- If you have a number of Google Home devices, tap the box adjacent to any device that you want to set up
- For each one, follow the instructions on the screen to sign your child in
- Once you are done, give your child a device to help him/her teach Google Assistant to recognize his/her voice.
If you are linking your child’s account and voice using the child’s device, follow these steps:
- On the child’s device, open the Family Link app
- Select your child’s name
- On the top left side of the screen, tap ‘More’
- Sign in to Google Home
- On the bottom right side, tap ‘Add’
- Tap the box adjacent to the device you want to set up
- Go to the ‘Parent Permission’ screen, tap your name as well as your email address
- Following the instructions that appear on the screen, sign your child in
- Give the children their device and help him/her to train Google Assistant to recognize his/her voice
Note: If at all the device does not recognize your child’s voice, you can retrain it by following these steps:
- Go to your device or your child’s device and open the Family Link app
- Select your child
- Go to ‘Manage Settings’
- Tap ‘Google Assistant’
- Select ‘Retrain your child’s Voice Match’
- Tap ‘Retrain’
- Give the child the device and help him/her to retrain Google Assistant to recognize his/her voice
To unlink your child’s account and voice:
- Open the Family Link app on your device
- Select your child’s name
- Go to the Google Home app and tap ‘Settings’
- Select ‘Unlink Google Account and Voice’
- Tap ‘Unlink’
Another safety precaution is that children can only use Google apps and non-Google apps that have the ‘For Families’ badge. To prevent your child from accessing third-party apps:
- Open Family Link
- Select the child
- Go to ‘Settings’ and tap ‘Manage Settings’
- Under ‘Google Assistant,’ turn ‘Third Party Apps’ off
Handy Google Home Parental Controls
In addition to using Family Link, you can also activate Google Home parental controls to prevent accidental access to inappropriate voice-activated content and control usage. Note, however, that Google Home by default bleeps out a majority of the common swear words.
Enabling Digital Wellbeing
The idea behind Digital Wellbeing is to limit the amount of time people in your household, including kids, spend in the digital world. It is all about taking necessary breaks from Google Home. To activate it:
- Open Google Home app and go to ‘Settings’
- Under the general section, tap ‘Digital Wellbeing’
- Select ‘Set up’
- Follow the steps that Google outlines
- From here you can set up Filters as well as Downtime to control content and time spent using Google Home
Turning Off ‘Pay with Assistant’
If you do not want to wake up to a giant toy car on the front porch or something worse, follow these steps:
- Open Google Home app
- Select the speaker you want and go to ‘Settings’
- Scroll down to select ‘More’
- Tap ‘Payments’
- Toggle off ‘Pay with Assistant’
Turning On ‘YouTube Restricted Mode’
Restricting your child’s access to YouTube using Family Link offers the strictest settings. But you could alternatively turn on Restricted Mode, which is more lenient. However, this feature will restrict content regardless of who is using Google Home. To do so:
- Go to ‘Menu’ on your Google Home app
- Tap on ‘More Settings’
- Select the Home device you want to restrict
- Scroll down to toggle on ‘YouTube Restricted Mode’
Excluding Explicit Songs on Google Play
Though some Google Home devices have this feature on by default, you might have to activate it on others. It will exclude music with explicit content. Here’s how to do it:
- Go to the Google Play Music site
- Sign in with the account you use on Google Home
- Click on the Menu icon and go to ‘Settings’
- Scroll down and select ‘General’ section
- Tap the checkbox next to ‘Block Explicit Songs in Radio’
What Can Google Home do for kids?
Now that we know how to set up Google Home for kids and how to use it, your next question might be, “what can Google Home do for kids?” Well, there are lots of things kids can enjoy with Google Home. And the best part about these things is that they can also make parenting a whole lot easier. Take a look at some of them:
Helping kids with homework
Google Home can help kids get the resources they need for homework as you whip up dinner or handle countless other after-work duties. To enjoy this, train your kids to ask Google Assistant questions. For example, there is a Google Activity known as Homework Help which can come in pretty handy. All they need to do is say:
- “Hey Google, help me with my homework”
Alternatively, you could also teach them to ask general questions. Be careful though to draw the line so that Google doesn’t do it all for them.
Read Along with Disney
Looking for a way to spice up story time a little? Google Home last year launched a new feature known as ‘Read Along with Disney’ to bring your children’s favorite stories to life. Aimed to make story time “a little more magical” it plays relevant music and sound effects as you read a story. And best of all, Google launched the feature in collaboration with one of the best storytellers of all time, Disney.
To access it simply say:
- “Hey Google, let’s read along with Disney”
It features family favourites such as Coco and Moana as well as timeless classics such as Cinderella and Peter Pan among other household names. Designed to reflect the way story time goes in real life, it recognizes when you skip ahead and adjusts accordingly. And when you pause, ambient music keeps the mood going until you resume.
The feature was initially launched on the Google Home Mini but towards the end of January 2019, it was incorporated into Google Home and Google Home Max as well.
Reinforcing good manners (pretty please)
The smart home fraternity is still torn on whether it is necessary to use the words “please” and “thank you” with smart assistants. While the jury is still out on that, the folks at Google have taken it upon themselves to reinforce good manners in Assistant’s pint-sized users.
One of the best Google Assistant skills for kids,known as “Pretty Please” Google’s politeness feature, launched in November 2018. Thanks to this feature, when your young ones phrase commands politely, including the magic words, they get “delightful responses.”
For example, when a kid says:
- “Hey Google, please set a timer for 20 minutes”
Google Assistant will respond:
- “Thanks for asking so nicely! 20 minutes starting now”
All parents who worry about kids losing their p’s and q’s by barking out commands to virtual assistants can utter a huge sigh of relief.
In addition to ‘Read Along with Disney,’ Google Home can let your kids listen to countless other stories. These include a number of classics as well as some original content. To access this feature, say:
- “Hey Google, tell me a story”
You can fine-tune your search for stories thematically, for example:
- “Hey Google, tell me a bedtime/summer story”
There will be times when you simply cannot sum up the energy to prepare a meal for the young ones. Google Home can rescue your kids from starvation by letting you order dinner. This feature works with Domino’s accounts, which means that you need to link your Domino’s and Google Home accounts.
Once you have linked the two, say:
“Hey Google, talk to Domino’s”
Settling sibling disputes
One of the toughest jobs that come with parenting is playing judge and settling disputes. With Google Home and Assistant, you can delegate this role too. Google Home can actually make disputes entertaining thanks to its capabilities of rolling dice and flipping coins.
Have your kids pick heads or tails and then say:
- “Hey Google flip a coin/roll the dice”
When dealing with several kids or complex disputes involving more than two options, you can have the involved parties pick numbers between 1 and 10. Then say:
- “Hey Google, roll a 10-sided die”
Helping kids get down to sleep
No matter their age, kids rarely go to sleep without a fight. Whether you want to lull a baby to sleep during naptime or cut bedtime short with white noise, Google Home can come in handy. Choose from a wide range of ambient noise options including:
- Running water
- Babbling brook
- Oscillating fan
- Country night
Whenever you choose to play ambient sounds, Home will automatically set a one-hour timer. But if you choose soothing music, there is no timer.
Custom Q&A: Set questions and customized responses
You can now get your Google Home to answer any custom question with a custom response. The potential of this feature to entertain kids is simply boundless. For example, when your toddler is having one of those days when they could use an ego boost, consider this:
Q: Who is the best kid in the world?
A: [your toddler’s name]
In order to enable this function, you need to use the IFTTT (If This Then That) to create an applet for that specific skill. While it may take a bit of work, it would be well worth the effort when you see your kid’s face light up time and time again at the responses.
To get started:
- Go to IFTTT.com
- Sign up if you haven’t already done so or sign in
- Click ‘Search’ and type in ‘Google Assistant’
- Click ‘Connect’ once you find it
- Use the same account that you use on Google Home to give IFTTT access
- From here, you can create your own applet, browse the list of other people’s applets to find the skill or edit your own applets.
How can Google Assistant help kids get ready for school?
Getting the kids up and out of the house on school days can drive even the most patient parents crazy. Fortunately for Google Home users, you can keep your sanity by using some of its handy features to streamline the process and get things moving. Let’s see how:
- Finding lost items
Have you ever noticed how kids’ items tend to get lost on school mornings just when you’re running out of time? You can save yourselves a great deal of drama by using Google Assistant to track things down.
One way this feature works is by reminding your kid where they put something. For this to work, they would need to tell Assistant where they are hiding something. When it’s time to find the item, they simply need to ask Assistant where they kept it.
A second way is to connect smart devices such as tablets and phones to Google Home. When they misplace the device, they can say:
- “Hey Google, find [device name]”
- Cutting down on yelling
Whether there’s only one kid in your house or a dozen of them, a lot of yelling goes into getting everyone up and out of the house. Why not try a more civilized approach by creating an intercom-like system around the house with multiple Google Home speakers?
Google Broadcast lets you make announcements to all speakers around the house from one device. You can wake everyone up, let them know when breakfast is ready and when it’s time to leave all from the smart speaker in the kitchen.
- Weather reports
Dressing the kids right for the weather is yet another obstacle to overcome every morning. They do not make it any easier when they pick up fights about wearing a sweater or putting on sunscreen.
Simply ask Google Assistant:
- “Hey Google, what’s the weather?”
Based on the response, you can take the guesswork out of the process and know when to pack umbrellas and jackets. Moreover, when kids hear it from the voice of your virtual assistant, they are less likely to argue.
- Setting helpful timers and reminders
Timers and reminders can come in handy in making sure they don’t miss the school bus yet again. Set a timer to ensure they do not spend too long in the shower or brush their teeth too fast and miss a spot. You can also set reminders to make sure they don’t leave without their lunch box or forget to carry their homework.
How to Keep Kids Entertained with Google Home
Playing Disney Games
Another interesting collaboration between Google and Disney allows your kids to enjoy wild adventures with their favorite Disney characters. These games are great for times when the outdoors is uninviting or you simply need to spend some time together in family fun. To play, say:
- Hey Google, play Disney Princess
Have your young one choose their favorite princess – the list includes Tiana, Cinderella, Belle, Ariel and Jasmine. One of these princesses will then read a story or take them on an adventure.
- Hey Google, play Toy Story Freeze Dance
If your child’s favorite animation movie is Toy Story, this might be a constant in your house. It allows them to become one of Andy’s toys and then dance like Jessie.
- Hey Google, play Maui’s Music Game
Join Maui on his adventure as he tries to navigate the undersea world to try and find Moana. As you defeat the monsters, you will earn magical conch shells. One of their magical aspects is that they play your favorite tunes from Moana.
Other options of popular Disney games include Mickey Mouse Adventure and Belle’s Castle Adventure.
Getting Answers to Odd Questions
By now, you must be familiar with the endless questions kids ask. And no matter what answer you give them, they never quite seem satisfied. Well, it seems they have met their match in Google Assistant. Some of her answers are funnier than you could ever imagine and will send the kids into fits of laughter while others are little-known facts that only Google could know. Kids can get answers to virtually any random question on any subject.
To help you along with Google Home kid funny things to do, here are some of the funniest questions kids can ask Google Assistant, and their responses:
Q: Hey Google, do you want to build a snowman?
A: Sure. The cold never bothered me anyway
Q: Hey Google, where’s Waldo?
A: He seems to gravitate towards crowded places. So I’d guess the Tokyo Summerland Wave Pool
Q: Hey Google, do you believe in Santa Claus?
A: If Santa gave me a present, I wouldn’t ask any questions
Q: Hey Google, what’s your favorite movie?
A: I love Beauty and the Beast, the palace furniture was so helpful
Q: Hey Google, do you have a boyfriend?
A: The only thing I’m feeling a strong connection to is the Wi-Fi
Babysitter: help babysitter get important information and find things
Google is still lagging behind in offering intelligent babysitting services. However, according to a patent filed in Europe four years ago, there could be something cooking. The patent is entitled “Devices and Methods for Protecting Unattended Children at Home.”
It describes a system that would allow inexperienced sitters and parents to care for infants as well as older children at home. To illustrate how it works, the patent explained that, for instance, if a child wandered into a room unattended, the system would send audio and light alerts to notify an adult.
Furthermore, it would go a step further and also disable unused electrical outlets in the room to avert danger. It could lock doors, control cameras and other smart devices as well as smoke and carbon dioxide alarms. However, there is no update on if and when the proposed system will ever launch.
Google Home best kid fails
Most of the time, Google Assistant will pay her role in entertaining your kids and taking orders from them flawlessly. But every once in a while, Google might misunderstand and do something totally opposite.
In a majority of these cases, Google Home best kid fails result from the fact that toddlers are yet to perfect their speech and pronunciation. One example involved a young girl requesting Google Assistant to play “Twinkle, twinkle.” But the Assistant mistook the request for “Bingo” and started playing it.
The innocent girl took a while to notice that the Home device was playing the wrong tune. In fact, she tried hard to sing along, only realizing after a few lines that it was actually a totally different song. The look of wonderment on her face is simply priceless. We’ll cover more of such funny Google Home kid fails more comprehensively in a separate article.
5 Concerns Parents Should Consider Before Using Google Home for Kids
The kid-targeted activities on Google Home and Assistant make them highly appealing for parents as well as kids. In fact, the device may seem like a suitable replacement for screens and can be a great babysitter.
However, before you give Google Assistant the green light to take over parenting, it would be wise to consider some concerns that specifically relate to kids. Take a look at the top 5 concerns to think about so as to ensure young ones do not get into trouble:
- Privacy Issues
Smart speakers like Google Home learn to tailor their interactions with users by recording conversations. While this is a useful facet of machine learning, it also poses a risk. There have been incidences reported of such devices recording private conversations and transmitting them accidentally.
Another risk is the possibility of hackers getting access to recorded conversations and using them for malicious intent. This becomes a particularly sensitive matter when it comes to kids. Using available safety precautions such as Family Link and Digital Wellbeing is thus paramount to keep kiddy users out of harm’s way. You can also mute the speaker when not in use or keep it out of the kid’s room to protect their privacy.
- Inappropriate Music
Children may request for inappropriate or explicit songs on Google Home. However, it will only play music connected to your personal account. As such, parents can choose to link to service providers that offer the option of setting parental controls. By setting content filters, you can eliminate child exposure to raunchy content.
- Unapproved Purchases
It is possible to use Google Home for online shopping. While this is a convenient feature, it could pose a risk if kids have unauthorized access to it. They could, for instance, make orders without permission or add items to your shopping list. Fortunately though, you can toggle off “Pay with Assistant” to prevent voice purchasing.
- Social Dangers
Psychologists have raised concerns about the interaction kids have with AI-based assistants. They might learn from an early age to communicate using limited conversational abilities like the virtual assistants.
It is, therefore, important for parents to offer guidance on the use of the device and ensure that smart speakers do not adversely affect kids’ communication skills.
There are growing concerns that the use of virtual assistants could contribute to the development of bad manners in young users. When they discover that they can be demanding or rude and that Assistant will always respond, it can reinforce negative behavior.
The fact that an AI-assistant responds positively to such behavior may then prompt children to try the same thing with the people around them. In an effort to address that, Google Home has a skill known as “pretty please” which offers kids incentive when they phrase their commands politely.
Google has clearly made an effort to keep Home and Assistant family-friendly. Though they are far from perfect, parents have a role to play in keeping pint-sized users safe. Right from the onset, it would be wise to set limitations and guide kids on appropriate as well as inappropriate use of the device.
Only by doing so can everyone in the family, including the youngest users, realize the practical value that Google Home and Assistant could have on day-to-day life.