Netflix is finally getting serious about parental controls

Netflix is bringing the biggest ever update to its parental control system since 2013 which is when it first announced ‘kids’ profiles.

Starting today, Netflix will allow individual profile level PIN protection to prevent kids from using them. (Photo credit: Reuters)

Spurred by user feedback, Netflix is finally updating its parental control system. The update, which is rolling out now across mobile and web, is the biggest ever in the history of Netflix since 2013 which is when it first announced ‘kids’ profiles to let parents keep some sort of tab on what they were watching on the OTT platform.

Netflix usually allows users to set up individual profiles — up to a maximum of five. This allows a Netflix subscriber to share their Netflix account with different members of their household (even friends, they’re comfortable sharing it with) including kids. Each individual profile can choose to have their own ‘custom’ experience while parents can be rest assured that kids have access to only age-appropriate content. But only on the surface.

You see, before 2018, Netflix parental controls were so bare-bones, they would allow kids complete access to every other ‘individual’ profile. This meant kids were basically free to access everything that other — more mature — profiles had access to by simply tapping on x, y, or z profile (should they figure out how). In 2018, Netflix introduced the playback PIN option so elders could finally put some restraint, but again, this involved the hassle of painstakingly PIN-protecting shows and films on a per content or per rating basis. This did not cover trailers that Netflix advertises at the top of its home page though. Moreover, you could only do this from a PC and not from a mobile device.

PIN-protect individual profiles, improved content filters and do it all from anywhere

All this changes now. Starting today, Netflix will allow individual profile level PIN protection to prevent kids from using them. Anyone set to a kids profile won’t obviously need a PIN but everyone else sharing the account can now choose to PIN-protect their profile so the younger lot can’t gain access.

“We’re constantly working with our members to truly understand what their needs are. If you recall, the kids profiles were introduced back in 2013 and the playback pin option in 2018. Again, these are upgrade optimizations to our current suite of parental control tools, as parents’ needs evolve over time,” Michelle Parsons who is manager of Kids & Family Product Innovation at Netflix said while demoing the company’s new parental control system to select media over a video call.

“Each family is different and wants to give the controls in the hands of the parents, so that they can create the best experience for their children. We have spoken to members around the globe and have done consumer insights research to understand their requirements.”

Starting today, Netflix will also allow parents to filter out titles for their children that may not be appropriate for their age selectively. “When this filter is used, the blocked title(s) won’t show up anywhere in that profile,” Parsons explained. Netflix is also making it easier for parents to monitor what their kids have been watching within the profile created for them. Plus, it will also be possible to turn off auto-playing episodes in kids profiles.

Lastly, parents will be able to access and make these changes from anywhere. “You can make the modifications on any web connected device which uses Netflix such as laptop, desktop and mobile web browser.”

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