A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
What's it about?
The NETFLIX app allows you to stream titles on a mobile device via your existing Netflix account using Wi-Fi or a mobile network. Though the app doesn't allow settings adjustment, parents can set filters on the website and create up to five user profiles with age-appropriate settings. There are no passwords or locks on separate user accounts, but parents can set a PIN that blocks access to mature content. Parental controls use four general categories: Little Kids, Older Kids, Teens, and Adults. Little Kids can access TV-Y content, whereas older kids can access up to PG movies and TV-PG content. Teens go up to PG-13 movies and TV-14 content. With the exception of the recently added warning cards to the start of episodes of 13 Reasons Why, there aren't any other advisory details provided at the beginning of shows that could have challenging content. Parents can make a "Kid" profile that will send a child into a special child-friendly area. The parental controls determine whether the area is a "Little Kid" or an "Older Kid" space, but either way it has a simpler interface and no access to listings by genre. For teens and adults, the app has revised genre listings, with several categories missing, including Music & Musicals, Faith & Spirituality, and Gay & Lesbian. Movies and shows in these categories are still accessible by search but cannot be browsed by category.
Is it any good?
This app version of the popular video streamer is a convenient way to access your account and the content it provides wherever you have access to a Wi-Fi or mobile network. The interface is simple to use, and the picture and sound quality is usually quite good on a Wi-Fi network, though mobile quality has been reported to be spotty, with lots of buffering interruptions. Given the portability of mobile devices, it can be tricky to keep an eye on what kids with access to mobile devices are watching, and the lack of password protection on profiles (or for exiting a Kid profile) is a major flaw. The universal PIN is the best safeguard, but it's a bit of a hassle to enter it whenever you want to watch something outside the set age range. But parents can access a list of recently viewed programs and movies using a Web browser if they want to verify what their kids have been watching. The lack of fine control over content accessibility may be challenging for parents whose kids are transitioning from "Little Kids" to "Older Kids," since there's a vast difference between a TV-Y show and a PG movie, although Netflix seems to have done a bit of extra filtering, especially on movies made before a PG-13 rating was available. It's important to note whether or not additional warnings and filtering will occur given the recent discussions and concerns surrounding the recently released series 13 Reasons Why.
It's also important to note that Netflix allows six devices to be registered to watch Instant movies. The availability of movies for Instant viewing has been steadily improving to include current hit films, TV programs, and programming for kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the meaning of "age-appropriate" when kids access Netflix. Why are certain movies or shows OK for one family member but not another?
Talk about rules and expectations. What are movie ratings? Which ratings are OK for each family member? What are the rules about using different profiles?
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Free
- Subscription price: Requires a minimum $8.99/month Netflix subscription
- Release date: August 26, 2010
- Category: Entertainment
- Publisher: Netflix, Inc.
- Version: 1.1.0
- Minimum software requirements: OS 3.1.3 or later, Android 2.2 and up
For kids who love entertainment for all ages
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.