The first time I realized the need for parental controls on Netflix, I was searching with my 10-year-old son for shows on the “Revolutionary War.”
But I didn’t find anything related to Valley Forge, the crossing of the Delaware, or even George Washington. Instead, a program about “Revenge Porn” popped up.
Mortified, I hit the “back” button on my Roku remote, prayed he didn’t see the cover art, and then quickly changed the subject.
“It looks like there’s nothing about the Revolutionary War. Want to watch a basketball game?”
What I discovered that day is something parents across the country already knew: Netflix is great for original programming and movies, but is woefully lacking in parental controls. The problems are three-fold:
1) Netflix offers kid-friendly accounts but does not allow mom and dad to block access to the parental account. (For example, with a password.)
2) Netflix’s search function is way too fast. The moment you type a single letter, the system shows results. That’s why “Revenge Porn” popped up on my search. After all, it begins with the same three letters – “rev” --- as Revolutionary War.
3) Ratings aren’t accompanied with content information – such as “S” (sexual content), “L” (language) and “V” (violence) – that are seen at the beginning of television shows. Even theatrical movies give us a hint of content.
Honestly, though, it’s not just a Netflix problem. Hulu and Amazon Prime also lack solid parental controls, as the Parents Television Council detailed in a 2017 report.
Still, there are a handful of ways to make Netflix – which reaches 51 percent of streaming households – more kid-friendly:
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