When we have friends and family with kids over, voice assistants can become a favorite attraction. At best, someone will start another “Baby Shark” round, and you’ll sing it for a week.
But what if one of those curious kiddos buys toys with your Amazon Echo? Or maybe your niece, Alexis, will have the Echo going haywire.
That’s why it’s worth changing a few settings to make your voice assistants safer when guests come knocking. Do it now before the holiday rush!
YOUR SMART ASSISTANT IS LISTENING, BUT DOES THAT IMPACT THE ADS YOU SEE?
Psst, I’m giving away an iPhone 15 (a $799 value)! Try my free daily tech newsletter just once and you’re entered to win. Good luck!
Keep kids from shopping on voice assistants
Tech-adventurous toddlers can order things with voice commands before anyone can stop them. That’s a massive pain in the wallet and can take lots of service calls to untangle … and yes, it’s more likely to happen around the holidays.
Frankly, I’m more comfortable turning voice purchasing off unless it’s on something private like my phone. Since Amazon is a big culprit here, it’s a good thing you can prevent Alexa from going on a shopping spree.
- Open the Alexa app, select More > Settings, then go to Account Settings.
- Here, you can find the Voice Purchasing menu, where you can turn voice purchasing capabilities off entirely.
- You can also set up codes to use voice purchasing, but only if you know the passcode.
Google Assistant lets you do something similar to the Payments section in your account. Voice payments aren’t on by default, but you can turn them off here if you’ve set them up before.
HOW TO DIG UP DIRT ABOUT YOURSELF ONLINE
Know your mute buttons
Manufacturers include physical mute buttons on every voice assistant device because they care about our privacy. No, they just do it so they can say they care.
When you have guests and it looks like over-indulgence in voice commands (and/or cocktails) could be a problem, tap mute to stop any commands. Look for the crossed-out speaker icon. For displays, an accompanying switch flips the camera off, too … just in case.
Set up parental controls
From explicit radio shows to downright adult content, there are probably a few things you don’t want voice assistants to search for when guests are around (or considering past privacy issues, ever). I have a few parental blocks that prevent this, no matter how naughty or rambunctious people get.
Google Assistant has some of the best options, with an Assistant Parental Controls section for each child user, although this won’t affect new users.
Google Home has several app content filters in the Digital Wellbeing section, where you can add filters to specific devices to block unwelcome content.
If you use Alexa, open the app, select More and head to Settings. In the Music & Podcasts settings, you can find an Explicit Language Filter to enable.
Change your wake word to limit guest use
It’s understandable if you don’t want just anyone using your voice assistants, especially if you have personalized options — or it’s just too annoying.
DON’T WANT TO DROP $1K ON A NEW PHONE? DO THIS INSTEAD
One thing you could do is change the wake word. Bad news: You can’t do this with Siri or Google. Well, there are reports that Google Assistant responds to, “Hey, boobies” (really), but that’s probably not what you had in mind. If you use Apple or Google smart home gear, stick with mute.
If you use Alexa, you can change to another recognized wake word.
- Go to your Device in the Alexa app and select the settings icon in the upper right.
- Tap Wake Word and switch it to something more unique than Alexa. Options include Amazon, Computer, Echo and Ziggy. This time of year, Santa is an option, too.
For more info to help the privacy-conscious, I’ve got some tips on changing privacy settings to avoid being tracked during the holidays.
Try my free daily tech newsletter, The Current. Join 509,000 people who trust me, not AI and algorithms. Sign up, and you’ll be entered to win an iPhone 15 ($799 value). Good luck!
Keep your tech-know going
My popular podcast is called “Kim Komando Today.” It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from all over the country. Search for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, hit the link below for a recent episode.
PODCAST PICK: Cybertruck’s $50K Fee, hidden AirTag spots & TikTok hacks
Plus, what your social media credentials fetch on the dark web. Get a sneak peek at your coworker’s Google calendar. With the holidays looming, we spotlight top scams to dodge. And, insights into YouTube’s AI strategy and a quick fix for editing PDFs.
Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Today” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.
Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.”
Sound like a tech pro, even if you’re not! Award-winning popular host Kim Komando is your secret weapon. Listen on 425+ radio stations or get the podcast. And join over 400,000 people who get her free 5-minute daily email newsletter.
Copyright 2024, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.