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How to set up parental controls on Google Home

Google wants to teach our kids manners. Who are we to stop it?


My kids love talking to Google using one of our various Google Home ($65 at Walmart) speakers. And I was brave enough to let them have full access to Google's Home platform and all it has to offer -- until I changed the rules.

Nothing nefarious happened. But when Google announced the Pretty Please feature during Google I/O, I decided to finally set up parental controls. Because if my kids are going to use a smart speaker, they may as well be polite in the process, right?

The process to link each child's Google Family Link account to Google Home was relatively painless, taking less than 5 minutes in total for each child.

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What you need

Obvious things first: You need a Google Home device, be it one made and sold by Google, or a compatible third-party device. You'll also need an Android device running Android 7.0 or higher for your child's Family Link account.

There is a way to use an older device running Android 5.0 or 6.0, but you have to follow these somewhat confusing instructions on Google's support page.

You'll need to use an Android 7.0 device to create a Family Link account for your kid(s). You can then sign into an older Android device using that same account.

Your child will need to be present to complete the process. Google Home will learn their voice when you set them up on it so it can tailor the experience.

Sign in to Home

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

With an Android device running Family Link and signed into your kid's account, open the Family Link app on the phone. Select the child's account to their profile.

Tap the three-dot icon in the top-right corner, then tap Sign in to Google Home. You'll be asked to sign into the parental account managing Family Link settings to grant approval. Follow the rest of the prompts, which includes having your child repeat "OK Google" and "Hey Google" a few times.

Parental controls

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

There aren't a lot of options right now, but you can at least control what kind of apps your children can access using Google Home.

In your Family Link app, select a child's account then tap Adjust Settings > Google Assistant. At present there's only an option to let kids use third-party Assistant apps. Toggle it on or off, then back out of the Family Link app to save your selection.