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Study: Netflix, Disney+ Offer Best Parental Controls

Aubrey Meister

Parents are trying to keep their kids safe and often place restrictions so they can only watch age-appropriate content. Most streaming services offer parental control options, but which one is the best? On April 20, The Parents Television and Media Council released a study revealing which streaming services offer the best parental control features and which have the worst.

The study shows that Netflix offers the best parental controls. These controls include:

  • Create profiles with specific maturity ratings
  • Choose maturity rating or block shows
  • Lock profiles
  • Turn autoplay on/off
  • Access viewing history for profiles

Next up is Disney+, which has a “kid-proof exit.” To switch from a kid’s profile to an adult’s profile, a security question must be answered. Disney+ also features:

  • Separate profiles for children, promising a “kid-friendly interface with only content suitable for children”
  • Option of limiting access to your profile with a PIN or password

Apple TV+ comes in third place in the study for its “Screen Time” reports that help parents monitor their kids’ device usage.

  • PIN-controlled age-restricted access by rating
  • “Screen Time” settings on iOS devices to access real-time reports about how much time you spend on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, and set limits for what you want to manage, including content restrictions

Peacock, Paramount+, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO Max all offer pretty similar parental controls with PINs required to switch profiles or watch content above a certain rating.

At the bottom of the list is Hulu, which offers the least restrictive parental controls. The study notes what Hulu is missing:

  • Cannot block specific shows or movies
  • No way to set age-range preferences under “kid” profile (PG-13 and TV-14 rated is not separated from TV-PG or Y content)
  • No way to password-protect Hulu profiles, which means kids can view all content by simply switching profiles
  • No way to restrict adult content across all profiles

Melissa Henson, the PTC program director, explains the need for safety features on streaming platforms. She says, “Launching Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, or any one of dozens of streaming apps gives a child instantaneous access to a virtually unlimited catalog of programming.” Without parental controls, children can easily access content that’s not age-appropriate.

In December 2020, Netflix was testing out a new Kids Activity Report feature. Since parental controls are such an important feature on streaming platforms, more companies may continue to improve in this area.

Self Financial recently published a study of which streaming services have the best content for kids, as determined by average IMDb score. HBO Max, Disney, and Netflix lead the way.

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