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Sorry kids, you must be thirteen or older to use Cortana

Cortana Age Limit

Windows Phone 8.1 brings a handful of new features to the mix. Cortana and the new Notification center obviously steal the headlines, but other features like Battery Saver, Wi-Fi Sense, Start backgrounds and more all add up to create a wonderful update. Unfortunately, not everyone can enjoy these features. Cortana is currently only available as a beta to those in the United States, though you can get it to work internationally with a few tricks.

And it looks like Cortana is also only available to those over a certain age. Seriously.

We’ve received a few tips from parents in the Windows Phone community who have upgraded their kids to Windows Phone 8.1. It appears that those under the age of 13 aren’t able to access Cortana.

If your Microsoft account is listed as a ‘child’ account and you’re under the age of 13 you’ll be greeted with the following message from Cortana:

“I’m Sorry, you’ll need to be a bit older before I can help you.”

And then you’re left only with the option to close out of Cortana. There’s a thread over on the Microsoft Answers website where we learn that the minimum age on the Microsoft account using Cortana must be 13 years or older.

We’ll reach out to Microsoft for clarification on the decision. In the meantime, did you experience any broken hearts with your kids trying to use Cortana on their phone? Sound off below

Clarification: Our friend Will (@woden325) reached out and reminded us of the laws of the land. Microsoft is just staying on the right side of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by making Cortana work with those 13 and older. 

Source: Microsoft Answers

Thanks for the tip Cayman D. and everyone else!

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Reader comments

Sorry kids, you must be thirteen or older to use Cortana

124 Comments

Because cortana is pretty good at finding porn. I bet it was made to prevent articles written by Engadget and cnet with "MS cortana, teaches underaged kids to have sex" in their titles.

Child accounts should have their search settings set to strict by default which should then be picked up by Cortana, that should block any dodgy content. Seems like an easy solution to me.

If you do ask cortana to find porn online it does it (bing is a great porn search engine) but it tends to blur out images and videos which I find very neat. I for one don't use my phone for these purposes. I found it out when I searched "f**k" on Cortana and it came up with blurred images + videos.  

This is intriguing to you ? Then think about this, all MS accounts with age less that 18 require a family to be set up and an elder has to approve your apps before you download (not sure about this) and he/she can view and manage all your downloaded apps remotely.

It is labeled a beta. It may have limitations for a while until they can figure out how to make all responses appropriate. Inappropriate responses and search results to young children are bad PR.

You're honestly dumb to set her up a kids account. Why would you in the first place? Just so you can keep her from playing games that she shouldn't? Because normally that's just called parenting.

Wow, you sound like a real pr*ck! You are a fool to give your kids a fully internet enabled device without any content restrictions. Seriously - if you are a parent, you really need to think about your approach! Realistically though, you sound like you are under 13 years of age, and just aggrieved that your parents didn't let you have the full WP experience.

What the fuck, why are you censoring yourself? Lol you're the one that sounds under 13, I bet your school censors would catch you if you actually typed out prick, haha.

Lighten up. There are many ways to skin this cat. Much depends on how mature your kids are, how smart and determined they are, and your relationship with them, and how long you wish to delude yourself into believing you can control their behavior.

I can assure you that setting up curfews and content restrictions via MS's family settings are far preferential to having a child accidentally come across the awful things that are on the net.
Childhood innocence is something to be cherished and protected...

Spoken like a willfully ignorant teen who doesn't know all the benefits of Microsoft's family account setup.  I use parent/child accounts to set curfews and time limits on computer usage.  Is it not parenting if I leverage technology to enforce my time limits?  I suppose if you think using the same technology to enforce game ratings doesn't qualify as parenting, then neither does the rest of it.

What other use of technology would you say people are stupid for using?  Car seats have come a long way in recent years.  Stupid to use that technology!  Hold your arm across your kid, it's called parenting!

Good news is that Rodney's girlfriend only needs to wait one more year to use Cortana on his phone.

Omfg we need that! But then again... That would make fighting on WPC so much more uncivilized... And everyone would lose their real life, for they would always come back to this... Lol

-- Sorry if I am mean, I just dislike mean people! --

My son (12) is running his acc on his phone as a child acc of my account, with my dev acc details for the dev prev in Aus... Cortana works fine... Maybe its in the child account restrictions?

It's a pay as you go phone. He earns money to pay for minutes. He mainly uses it for wifi and games. I also have his account under strict guidance with MS family accounts. But then sense I chose to parent my way, I must not be up to Dr. Spock's standards. His account lets him play his games on our Xbox one and our windows 8 PC with the same parental settings, I see it as being quite handy.

I've heard Q2 this year for the UK roll out of Cortana, sounds about right to me as WP8.1, for those people not running the dev preview, is supposed to roll out around that time as well.

The only reason its only in the US at the moment is because Cortana is still in beta. It should be in more countries on full release :D I guess we just have to deal with changing our region and language to the US for now :|

Yep. My 12 year old is pretty disappointed. I'm assuming it may be that they can't guarantee filtered results until it is out of beta. Just a guess.

No, you can filter your searches by going to Settings, swipre right to Cortana, scroll down and tap the search settings option and there should be an drop down menu for SafeSearch, which on defualt is "moderate". Unless you're worried that he can easily change that...

Yep, that doesnt give them achievements (that is of course if the kid is smart to know that). Besides, if Microsoft wanted to restrict kids under 13 not to have phones or other services, they wouldn't have the Family Settings in the first place. No more Xbox, Outlook, Windows 8 access, et al.

did you have a walkman or a gameboy before you were 13? welcome to 2014!

my 5 year old daughter has a 520. use it for music and movies on flights and games of course. no sim card in it.

Because parents like to contact their children or have them contact them when needed. I remember numerous times as a kid I'd have to call me parents when I was out. I'd either have to go to a friends house to use their phone, or hunt around for a pay phone and hope I had enough change for a call. Why *wouldn't* a kid have a phone?

Indeed. While I feel certain limits need to be in place: the point of humanity is to push forward, to test the limits and breakthrough.

I can probably imagine that a few generations ago, people were arguing how kids shouldn't have their own radios, and how spoiled they are.

Smartphones are really just the next step in terms of things like Gameboys or Nintendo DS. So yeah, you're going to start seeing 1st graders using iPhones, should we slow down the advance of technology and mankind as a whole simply because you didn't get to enjoy the same tech toys as a kid?

It is more because people don't have kids.. And they don't understand the value of communication between the two

-- Sorry if I am mean, I just dislike mean people! --

Why would you not give a kid a cell phone?

With pay phones all but gone, it's the only way they can communicate when they're not at home. Beyond that, we can track our kids in the event of (God forbid) something terrible were to happen.

Microsoft citing COPPA here is a lazy excuse. COPPA is more about disclosure than anything else, and MS already collects data from kids on live.com. Sounds like they just need to add disclosure and possibly the ability to disable Cortana on Family Safety, and that's about it.

No shit right??? My wife is a 5th grade teacher and I've had this discussion with her...hell I was still loving my toys in 5th grade...life before the internet was fun...poor kids nowadays.

That sound silly. Given that a lot of children have learned to use, and like using Siri and Google now, and especially the commercials both of those companies run showing kids using it. It sounds really stupid that Microsoft has this age limit in place.

I was just about to set my 12 year old son up with a windows phone with no SIM, because he's at the age where he needs to organize his stuff in a calendar, answer e-mails, he can skype me while I'm on the go, etc. The first hurdle I hit was the store told me he I have to go accept the EULA or something on his account. But it didn't tell me where or how to do this, and I haven't been able to find it. It's pretty frustrating. Now I see this and it makes me just want to lie about his age. There has to be a better way, a way for parents to opt out and say yes we trust our kids, etc.

Indeed, it's a mess. I appreciate what Microsoft is trying to do, but the parental controls for Windows Phone are horrendous.

I remember first getting my Lumia 1020, first WP8 device. When I went to start redownloading my WP7 apps, I was told I needed the parental permissions thing, and I'm like, "Seriously?!"

I was over 13 at the time (15), and my Microsoft account recognizes that. But no, I still needed a "parent account." So I created a fake Microsoft account, made my account a "child account" then removed all restrictions, and haven't needed to bother ever since.

Thank god, because I have no clue what any of the details for my fake account are, and the dashboard control thingy gives no useful information in regards to what parent account is managing yours.

So yeah, parental controls on WP8 are a mess, and end up getting in the way of things they shouldn't.

My son is ten and I will not allow him to access anything with my permissions because kids can be slick at times. Some children can look up certain things that it isn't allowed for them to look at. As a parent I had block certain sites from him. When he gets older then that's different. Playing games are fun to him but why would anyone allowed their child to play with games that aren't for kids in just saying. Always monitor your kids never leave them by their selves to do anything

I believe its better to spend the time to educate children on everything life has to offer than to restrict them causing rebellion or throwing them in the deep end when they become of age... So I 'quietly' monitor their usage and 'quietly' talk to them about associated subjects of concern... Without them knowing I'm watching.
I will take a step back as they get older but it is working out pretty good.. Helps keep a healthy relationship with them too! They grow up so much quicker than we did these days... Just my 5c

I'm pretty certain that this is common practice in the US, it is the same reason that the minimum age on facebook is also 13 - has to do with privacy and child protection

I could understand if they restricted the online Cortana stuff like searching to 13+, but there's plenty of "offline" stuff that she does as well, such as start apps, make appointments, text message people, etc. Did TellMe ever have that restriction?

Yuuup. Her searches should show contain appropriate for kids, but the other stuff like she should be able to to do no matter what age.

Have any of you with an Xbox tried adjusting the permissions for your under-13 child appropriately to allow Cortana to work? IDK why, but there are some permissions that can only be set from the console. We had to do that to allow our daughter the ability to play AlphaJax with us. Sure, that was to get an XboxLive game to work, but perhaps Cortana is looking at some of the same permissions.

Well that's obvious since Cortana doesn't have parental controls built in a at the moment, i'm sure Microsoft will implement this eventually.

I didn't get a smartphone until I was in my late thirties. We had this great 3D, HD game with full surround sound, called outside when I was a kid.

I don't think you thought about it for very long.

Unless you're a helicopter parent, a kid needs a cell phone to communicate while she isn't home. It's also an essential tracking tool if the worst were to happen.

Personally, it aggravates me that at 13 Microsoft decides that I can no longer monitor my grandson's account. Who are they to decide when a kid no longer needs to be supervised?

+925 Microsoft is very inconsistent on this. I can restrict my 13yo on what is accessible in the Xbox, but suddenly free access to everything on Windows, WP? Makes no sense.

So anyways, for those of us that do spoil the crap out of our kids with all the latest tech, is there a workaround? I couldn't register their 521s for the developer or upgrade to 8.1, and I can't change their age on their ms acct. Any suggestions from any non-hipsters in the same boat?

Ok, I'd be happy to hear suggestions from hipsters as well, and might be willing to reward you with a moustache comb and a pair of white earbuds

You can download the Preview for Developers app on their phones and use your own developer account to log into the app so they can get the 8.1 update. Worked great for me. But my kids were really disappointed that Cortana rejected them! I don't know how to change the age on child accounts.

I can't understand why you people don't have her... Like I said previously, my 12 yo has his own account running as a child accountof mine he has all family age related restrictions off, I punched in my dev prev details and he has Cortana... So its definitely in the restrictions you are placing on your childs account...

While I can understand they're complying with the law, this make the Search button useless... At least allow normal Bing searches?

Ahh, good. The way it was phrases in the article gave me cause for concern, I'm glad regular search remains intact.

Can you guys help? Sorry its a bit off topic, but when I activated my Windows phone I used my Microsoft account email address as normal (at the time it was a hotmail) then Katey that month I chased my primary alias to another email address (A outlook account) while also keeping my old one to slow other sites to still work with my old email, but in my Windows phone settings under "accounts+email" my "Microsoft account" it's still connected to my old hotmail address, no big deal since I kept my old address as a spare alias, but... My personal preference would to have that as my new address (alias, its on the exact same Microsoft account as my old one, but just my new primary alias). So it's there any way to change it? As of now, it's grayed out and I can't change it... Any way? Thanks

I did it a while ago, has the alias before i got my Windows phone, but i made it my primary alias after activating it... I'll try changing it back, then forward again, thanks though

It updated now, don't know what I did, I'm guessing it's because I told it to force sync. Anyways it updated now. Thanks for helping though! :)

why do you give children bellow 13y a smartphone?
ive seen kiddos on school trip to an island and all they.were doing is looking at there phones! none of the kids was excited they were on a boat! :o
i mean come on, give them a gameboy and let them play as children used to do!

You can't have an iTunes account either for a child under 13.  Which on an iPhone causes all kinds of a mess.

There should be a parental approval option on these things.  Besides, a 12 year old, or younger, can't sign up for cell service.  It requires an adult's effort to get the child the phone.

It's because of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.  The reason MS might not have been forthcoming with an answer is because that act is meant to protect a child's privacy with regard to commercial activities.  In other words, MS is taking a page from the book of Google: Cortana is as much a metadata gathering tool for marketers as it is a search and assistant tool for users.  Like Google, MS is hoping to make the service convenient enough for you that you'll be willing to give (or let it detect) information about you, so that it can be used for the purposes of marketing various products to you or identifying marketing niches more accurately.  Unfortunately, Cortana does not just care about your "interests" for the purpose of making you happy.

It's not about porn at all; the reason age 13 was chosen is because the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act is written to preserve the privacy of children under 13.  MS doesn't want to have to jump though all the legal hoops necessary to satisfy the requirements of the act, so anyone under 13 is out.  Much simpler.

Microsoft really pushes this Children's Online Privacy Protection ! in K12 Schools you need all this crazy stuff for your kids that are under 13 to use Microsoft Office 365 but Google you need NOTHING !! and they even state that they are using this information for advertising? How do they get away with it .. Simple just like they did with android, use others patterns and wait 3 years for someone to come after you and say. Ops ... after they have 80% market share so users get ticked off... They are doing the same for Schools, Who is going to tell a school system that they need to get off google once they have all the kids using it...
Microsoft is doing the right thing here but its just So not fair that others can just ignore the Law and get away with it..
Just My RANT...

On my daughter phone 12years old we try to set app call a quiet time which will automatically turn ringtone sound off when my daughter is in school (middle school policy), but to do that Cortana must be turn on. Due to Cortana restriction for kids under 13 we can't do that. What child protection are we talking about in this case?