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Review: Netflix Safety Feature for Pre-Schoolers

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If your pre-schooler is anything like mine you are familiar with the popular tv shows and movies out there for the age group. Can you sing the theme songs? We have had a Netflix account for a while and my son has used it often to seek out his fave shows and to take a break from his usual DVD repertoire. But I worry about allowing him to surf the selections on his own.

Netflix reports that 61% of parents would like to give their children the ability to select their own shows - hey, I admit tv time is often mommy break time for me, but 67% worry about what they're watching. Apparently, their research found that parent's fears are well-founded: more than 40% of kids have accidentally been exposed to something on TV that was unsuitable. 

To help parents, Netflix has a "Just for Kids" feature that presents age-appropriate content for children under the age of 12. The section allows kids to scroll through content selected just for them. So me and the family tried this out and here is what we found.

1. The "Just for Kids" section is really cool. My son could choose his favourite characters and find shows or movies that featured them. It is easy to navigate and can be used to search by genres like superheroes and princesses.

2. My husband could not access the "Just for Kids" section on his ipad, too bad because we do often allow our son to watch shows this way.

3. The "Just for Kids" section is for children 12 and under. So... we did have to explain to our son why he couldn't select certain shows even though it was in "his" section. There can be a large gap between 4 and 12 in terms of what is acceptable to watch and we don't like him to view some of the programmes targeted at older kids, such as those that are fighting based.

4. In terms of a safety feature, it doesn't quite measure up. A clever or quick hand can still navigate away from the section. Netflix does offer parental controls but when my husband selected this filter, the message indicated it would take 8 hours to change over. (We assume 8 hours to change it back again, should you want to access the latest action thriller during adult time).

Like a lot of "safety" features out there on media, it clearly doesn't substitute for close supervision, nothing does, but there are areas for improvements. As a cool section that is just for kids, it is a pretty neat feature (to go through with mom and dad!)


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