Do: Change your smart speaker settings before the holidays

When we have friends and family over with kids, voice assistants can become a favorite attraction. At best, someone will start another “Baby Shark” tour and you'll be singing it for a week.

But what if some curious kid buys toys with your Amazon Echo? Or maybe your niece, Alexis, will have an echo.

That's why it's worth changing a few settings to make your voice assistants safer when visitors knock. Do it now before the holiday rush!

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Keep children away from shopping for voice assistants

Tech-adventurous kids can order things with voice commands before anyone interrupts them. It's a big pain in the wallet and can result in many service calls…and yes, it's more likely to happen around the holidays.

HomePod mini. (Credit: Apple)

Frankly, I'm more comfortable turning off voice purchasing unless it's on something personal like my phone. Since Amazon is the big culprit here, it's a good thing you can prevent Alexa from going shopping.

  • Open the Alexa app, select more > parametersThen move on Reporting options.
  • You can find it here Voice purchase A menu where you can completely disable voice purchasing capabilities.
  • You can also set codes to use for voice purchases, but only if you know the secret code.

Google Assistant lets you do something similar Payments section in your account. Voice payments aren't turned on by default, but you can turn them off here if you've previously set them up.

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Know your mute buttons

Manufacturers put physical mute buttons on all voice assistant devices because they care about our privacy. No, they do it the way they can they say They care.

When you have guests over and it seems like too much voice commands (and/or cocktails) might be a problem, tap Mute Stop any command. Look for the crossed-out speaker icon. For display, an accompanying switch rotates the camera… just in case.

Set up parental controls

Clearly from the radio broadcasts an adult There are probably a few things in your content that you don't want voice assistants to search for when they're guests (or given past privacy issues). I have some parental blocks that prevent this, no matter how mean or mean people are.

A smart speaker

Top view of smart speaker AI assistant Blue ring finger for voice control (iStock)

Google Assistant has some great options, with Assistant Parental Controls for each child user, though this won't affect new users.

Google Home has several app content filters in the Digital Wellbeing section, where you can add filters To block unwanted content on specific devices.

If you use Alexa, open the app, select more and proceed parameters. in Music and podcast settingsyou can find An explicit language filter to turn on.

Change your wake word to restrict guest usage

It's understandable if you don't want someone using your voice assistants, especially if you have personalized options — or it's just too annoying.

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One thing you can do is change your wake word. The bad news: You can't do this with Siri or Google. Well, there are reports of Google Assistant responding, “Hey, boobies” (really), but that's not what you had in mind. If you use Apple or Google smart home equipment, stick to silent.

If you use Alexa, you can change to another recognized wake word.

  • go with you device in the Alexa app and select Settings icon in the upper right.
  • tap on Wake Word And switch to something more unique than Alexa. Options include Amazon, Computer, Echo and Ziggy. At this time of year, Santa Claus is also an option.

For more information to help protect privacy, I have a few Tips for changing your privacy settings To prevent tracking during the holidays.

A white Amazon Echo device on a light wooden table with a hand touching the device

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