Setting up smart speakers and the like securely

Whether smart speakers, smart TVs, smartwatches or smart toys - smart devices have conquered households in Germany within just a few years. Whether one is willing to share personal data from the highly private sphere of one's own home with large companies is something that everyone must decide for themselves. However, anyone using smart devices in a household where children are growing up must take into account their right to privacy and their special need for protection. klicksafe has compiled information and tips below to help make growing up with smart devices as safe as possible for children.

What is a smart speaker?

The voice assistants Alexa, Siri and Co. belong to the major companies Amazon, Google and Apple. The devices are speakers connected to the Internet. They can be controlled by voice command. For example, you can easily get information about the weather, the time or the movie program. 

Household objects such as lamps, heaters or shutters can also be linked to smart speakers and controlled by voice command. Influencing objects in the environment by voice is a great fascination for children and is quickly making smart speakers a popular toy. However, none of the companies mentioned have designed their devices for use by adolescents.

At you will find practical step-by-step instructions on how to child-proof smart speakers. There are instructions for Amazon Echo with Alexa as well as for Google Home and Google Nest and for Amazon Echo Show with Alexa.

How do smart speakers work?

Is Alexa listening to me?

Some precautions are important to reduce the likelihood of private data ending up on other servers. The smart speakers can be set so that they cannot be activated via voice command. Activation then only works by pressing a button on the device. This can greatly reduce the frequent random recordings. However, this also reduces the ease of use. If you don't want to do without this, you can at least configure the devices so that they emit a signal tone when activated. However, the safest way to prevent unwanted recordings is still to turn off smart speakers completely as long as they are not in use.

What do Amazon, Google and others know about me?

Users of smart speakers from Amazon or Google can easily get an overview of which recordings have been made in the past and should delete them regularly.

  • For Amazon smart speakers, open the Alexa app, select the menu item "Settings", then "Alexa account" and finally "History".
  • For Google devices, log in to your Google account, click on "Data & Personalization", then in the Activity Settings section, click on "Voice & Audio Activities", and finally click on "Manage Activities".
  • Apple device users do not have the option to listen to or delete the recorded audio.

Tips for parents

Children should not use voice assistants or smart TVs unsupervised, as they may encounter risky services that are not age-appropriate. So the devices also have no business in a child's room. Through shared use, such as researching knowledge questions, parents can teach important safety rules. Children should also be made aware that they should not share private information with smart speakers. As with any other device, such as a smartphone, parents should think in advance about the age at which voice assistants should be used by children and the rules that should be followed. 

Although the devices do not yet have comprehensive parental control settings, they can be made safer with the available options.

  • Secure purchases via voice command or websites with content not suitable for children with a PIN.
  • Delete voice recordings at regular intervals
  • Mute the speakers when parents are absent so that the child cannot activate the device.

Since the technology market and also smart devices are constantly evolving, it is advisable to learn about the functionalities and risks before buying a smart speaker or smart TV.

With most providers such as Netflix and others, it is also possible to set up a parental code or a special children's account within the apps. These should be used to ensure safer use for the child. Instructions for the three largest services can be found here: