How to Listen to Spotify Without a Phone
We want to give our children the gift of music. Music streaming services like Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, and Pandora can provide hours of wholesome entertainment – as well as educational podcasts and audiobooks. Music can be very beneficial, especially for kids with ADHD, by helping them focus.
The problem is, let’s face it – what child would willingly choose an audiobook when they have TikTok and YouTube on the same screen?
Unfortunately, most devices that can play Spotify also have access to other content. The toxic and addictive kind that parents would rather restrict. What we need is a device for kids that ONLY plays music and does nothing else – no apps, no browser, no app store, no workarounds to the open Internet. After much research, here are the solutions I have found so far:
I bought these for my two teenage children a couple of years ago – and everyone is still happy. Now their 9 year old brother has one too. They connect to my parent Spotify account, my kids can sync their Spotify playlists during their (limited) screen time via a Mighty app – and can then listen to their music when screens are off.
How it works:
- Install a Mighty Audio app on your other iOS or Android device
- Select the playlists to sync to the player
- Navigate among songs and albums using buttons
- Plays Spotify and Amazon Music without a phone or Internet connection
- Give Mighty to your kid and relax
- Screenless – no temptations to do anything else but listen to music
- Holds 1,000+ songs
- Requires a premium Spotify account
- No graphic interface, only buttons
- Needs to be synced at least monthly (to pay artists)
- Spotify and Amazon music only
Although there are a number of other Spotify music players on Amazon, their graphic interface comes with a downside for kids: most have social media apps, Internet browser, and an App store. The few that realized that’s not what parents are looking for had the wisdom to make the apps REMOVABLE:
How it works:
- A proprietary app on Gabb child-safe phones and watches
- Curated library of clean music from every genre
- Millions of tracks, no explicit content
- 30 day free trial
- Have to buy a phone or a watch and pay a monthly service fee
- Not available from other cell phone providers or app store
- Extra fee for Gabb music in addition to cell phone monthly fee
- Less choice because only child-safe content is included
$4.99/month for radio-style listening, $9.99/month for full control
Promo: 30 day free trial
Besides Gabb phones with their own proprietary music app, there are 3 more choices for child-safe phones currently on the market that give kids access to a limited number of apps – including Spotify – and allow parents to customize the app lineup:
- Pinwheel (promo code TECHDETOX for 10% OFF)
- Bark (promo code TECHDETOX20, does not apply to the monthly charges, but the phone is free)
- Troomi (promo code TECHDETOX for $30 OFF)
How it works:
- Regular Spotify app installed on the phone that otherwise has no access to social media or an Internet browser
- Music is a part of child-safe operating system
- Bark phone monitors lyrics for potential issues
- Bark software is also available on Pinwheel and Troomi phones (20% off for life with our code TECHDETOX20)
- Phones come with membership fees
Bark phone: Free lease. Monthly service: $49-$69 (service and parental controls)
Old World and Offline: MP3 and CD
Skip the convenience of streaming music and go old world – offline:
- MP3 player with a memory card – copy music files from your computer and listen offline.
- CD player – dust off the CD collection from your teenage years and give it to your kids to experiment with.
- Radio – believe it or not, some teenagers do not think radio uncool, my daughter and her best friend among them.
Parental Hack: Lock an iPhone or iPad on Spotify only
If your child is asking for a phone or iPad to “just play music” during homework, here is a nifty parental hack – lock the device on one app via Guided access. The idea is to give your child access to music – but not to the entire universe of other distracting apps. Guided access is a hack to turn on the music on the phone or tablet – and nothing else.
Alternatively, within Screen Time parental controls on iOS devices, it is possible to set up schedules when apps are available, so parents can make Spotify work when other apps are blocked.
Spotify Devices that are NOT Child-Safe
I decided to test one of the more affordable players that appeared to only have music apps, hoping to give it to my children. No such luck, I discovered that you cannot delete the browser after all, so I had to return it. I wrote to the manufacturer, so I have faith that the market will eventually catch up with parent demand and start producing streaming music players without access to the open Internet – Android OS allows enough customization to accomplish this.
How it works:
- These players come preloaded with music apps, or allow for common music apps apps to be synced from the phone.
- Some allow to transfer music to the device for offline listening.
- You can uninstall apps you don’t want your kids to use, but your smart kid can easily reinstall them with a factory reset of the device.
- Familiar graphic interface, like a phone
- Some are affordable
- Hackable, not limited to music
- Not made for kids, some come with social media, Internet browser, and even an app store.
Wearables and Speakers
Spotify can play music through a multitude of devices (here is a list from Spotify site) besides smartphones.
Wearable tech is designed to be less distracting than phones, so it can act as an independent Spotify music player. However, most smartwatches have the ability of web browsing, if a browser app is installed, therefore – not child-safe. Needs an iOS or Android device to install apps.
A smart speaker, like Amazon Echo or Google Home still presents danger for children and should be used with parental controls. My personal conviction is to never keep these gadgets in children’s bedrooms.
Regular Device with Parental Controls
Another option is to get an old smartphone, iPad, or Amazon Fire tablet, remove apps and set up strong parental controls that limit access to the app store and Internet browser – it’s a lot of work but it can be done.
Once you limit access to distracting apps and Internet browser via screen time settings and parental controls, you have to be vigilant, as there are workarounds kids use – no parental controls are perfect.
How to Block Explicit Content on Spotify
However you use Spotify, do not forget to enable the filter for explicit content on your account to protect your children. Here is how:
Please note this filter is deeply flawed. If kids deliberately look for explicit content, they would find it – many “adult” podcasts slip past the filter and into our kids’ innocent ears.
Another disturbing issue is a black box of Spotify recommendation algorithm YOU CANNOT TURN OFF. I have been fighting with Spotify “customer service” for months to remove a gay podcast posing as a kid’s show from the list of “recommended shows” for my children, and the customer rep could do nothing about it:
I was finally able to get rid of it by listening to other podcasts on repeat and adding lots of them to my library to push the stuff from the home screen. I have nothing against gay people but I do not want my kids to be exposed to sexual content – gay or straight.
I also have to sometimes hide songs I find inappropriate:
It is possible to set up kids’ profiles that exclude explicit content, but only with Spotify Premium Family account.