• Netflix parental controls bleg follow-up

    Evidently, I’m not the only one who is terribly disappointed with the Netflix parental controls. Let’s recap.

    My kids are shockingly facile with technology, proving once again that my genes are stronger than my wife’s. We got  nifty TV from Costco that was such a deal I bought it almost on an impulse. Not only does it have built-in WiFi and Internet apps, meaning it can stream Netflix natively, but the remote has a built-in keyboard to make it really convenient.

    It took my children mere minutes to figure out how all this works. And I’m fine with it, because it means they can access Netflix for tons of age-appropriate programming, especially TV shows.

    This isn’t a problem for my youngest (age 4.5), who is happy to watch the same things over and over. Nor is it an issue for my oldest (9) who doesn’t stray too much from what he knows. But my middle child (7) can’t help himself. He wants to see what else Netflix has to offer. And I know that if I leave him to his own devices, he will find the entire Saw oeuvre in seconds.

    It’s not that he’s bad. He’s just naturally curious and doesn’t understand the ratings system; many adults don’t either.

    What I want is the ability to restrict Netflix streaming. Here’s a simple solution: let me set a level below which anything will stream. If something that doesn’t qualify is requested, force me to enter a password to allow it. That way, I (and babysitters) can watch whatever we like, but my children can’t get nasty stuff without the password (which I will keep from them).

    Unfortunately, that’s not what exists. Tech of the Hub blog agrees (emphasis mine):

    Netflix: It appears that its parental controls are a holdover from when Netflix only mailed DVDs. The controls offered are not practical to use. You can go to Netflix’s website and click on “Your Account and Help”. Chose “Parental Controls” and you can set what ratings you would like to filter for both instant streaming as well as DVD deliveries.

    It’s nice that you can control the settings centrally for all of your Netflix devices from their website. Unfortunately, it can take up to eight hours for the setting to take effect for on-line streaming. In testing, once the controls were set, they were enforced fairly quickly. This was not the case when I needed to remove the controls; it took a few hours for them to be released. The whole point of watching instantly is to be able to watch when you feel like, not wait for eight hours. It’s surprising that Netflix, as the market leader, doesn’t have a way you can enter a passcode to override the settings to watch a particular program.

    Amazingly, almost none of the streaming services seems to have filled this need. Apple TV comes closest, but only for iTunes content. What’s the deal? Seems like a simple way to get ahead of the pack. Does anyone have any solutions?

    • Netflix recently made a statement that they are looking at moving from household to individual relationship. This is related to watching multiple programs at a time (and create more revenue). They are still thinking about how to execute it. This world may open up some better opportunities for Netflix to roll out better parental controls. Full text at:

    • I am pretty much in the exact same boat as you, and it drives me nuts. Why Netflix has done nothing about this is maddening. When we first bought our streaming device, the only thing that showed up to watch was what I put on the queue, so I created my own “parental controls” by only putting things on the queue that my kids could watch and were approved by me. I was briefly annoyed about not being able to stock up my queue with the stuff I wanted to see, but I got over it quickly. After the kids go to bed I could just add the movie I wanted and watch it. But now, Netflix has updated it’s GUI on our player, and now the kids have access to anything in Netflix’s library!
      I am seriously upset now.

    • Until enough customer’s demand it, I doubt Netflix (and Vudu, Hulu, et al) will create meaningful parental controls.

      Even my cable company’s controls are a joke, as “unrated” movies slip by all the time on the premium channels.

    • I too am disappointed and actually surprised that Netflix hasn’t made their Parental Controls more user friendly, but as someone mentioned, there probably hasn’t been enough customer demand for it.

      Also, the Recently Watched list can be a bit embarrassing for anyone who would like to be more discreet with what they watch at night while their children are sleeping, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to clear the list.

      • I check daily to see what my son is watching and that’s when I noticed all these R rated sex movies. I blocked it quick.

    • For an idea of how ridiculous Netflix’s parental controls are, check out this YouTube video.