Parental control, family and children and permissions for Smartthings app

Hi everyone,

I’m very new to the ST community and as a ST user in general. Have many Meross bulbs and power outlets / bars, along with some Aeotec and Samsung multisensors and also the latest Smartthings hub (the Aeotec branded one). Also got my existing Arlo security camera integrated too which is great.

One issue that keeps coming up for me is permission management. There doesn’t appear to be anyway to manage permissions within Smarthings, which as a parent really would like (really I need) to help with automating my home with a 7 and 8 year old - both of which have smartphones.

In an ideal world I’d add the ST apps to my kids phones, create accounts and would do something like grant permission to execute devices in specific rooms and selected automations, whilst the app collects / allows the use of location for presence status across the household.

From what I can make out, this isn’t even remotely close to being possible today / as it stands. So, my question is what alternative is there?

I know I’ve joined the ST community at a bad time, given the backend changes from Groovy… which my limited understanding means that even some existing 3rd party apps (Life360) don’t work / won’t work shortly.

So… what’s the solution?! At minimum the ability for my kids to turn their bedroom lights on other than relying on a routine / motion sensor would be the bare minimum… so having a way for them to at least to execute an automation / turn on /off a device from their phone is the minimum. The ability to use their phones as sensors (e.g. geolocation / presence detection) would be great too.

If this isn’t possible on the phones then I guess I’ll need to resort to some type of smart switch / control panel if it’s really necessary… Again being new to the scene would be happy to take suggestions on this front too.

Thanks in advance,


The most popular way to solve this very common request is to use one of the third-party dashboard apps, which allow you to create custom dashboards. Then you just create one with exactly the devices you want to give permission to you and put that on your child’s phone/tablet. They can’t do anything except use those devices: they can’t, for example, delete devices, and it keeps them from turning off the lights in their sibling’s room.

The two most popular have been actiontiles, and SharpTools. Both have license fees. But slightly different business models. Sharptools has a limited feature “free forever” tier which might be all you need for this purpose, or a $30/year subscription fee for the advanced features.

Action tiles has historically charged a one time fee per location.

Both might be running Black Friday sales this year, so it’s worth checking for that.

SharpTools is already working with the new smartthings architecture, so that’s a plus.

My understanding is that action tiles is still working on their integration, but I don’t know how far along it is.

SharpTools also has a very nice rules engine which many people like. You wouldn’t need it for your parental controls use case, but you might find it useful anyway.

Both have active communities where you can ask questions.

Both are browser-based, so they should work on just about any smart phone or tablet.

Listed alphabetically:

You can find lots of additional discussion of these in the forum. Both have been very popular. :sunglasses:


If you are able to isolate the devices the kids can use then you could create a new Location (or new Locations) just for those devices.

You might, however, have to jump through a few more hoops to get all the presence sensing in the same place to automate with.

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The advantage to using the third-party custom dashboards is that it doesn’t give the kids access to admin features. They can’t delete devices or change automations.

If you use a separate location approach, they will still have full admin access to the devices at that location. Accidental deletion has been a common issue for families with kids using the regular smartthings app :thinking:

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Have your kids ever seen startrek? Surely they want to talk to a voice assistant?

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Thanks everyone. Really appreciate the input. Spent the last few weeks really kicking the tyres, although I gather I’ve got the easy route given it’s all the “new” ST platform rather than the more dev centric WebCore experience!

So far have gone in for Sharptools, although that’s secondary as I’ve focused more on buying motion sensors for bedrooms so they don’t need to do anything. I may look into a small / cheap Alexa or Google Assistant for the kids rooms…

Thanks again everyone!