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How Did I Not Know This Netflix Feature Exists?!

Photograph by Twenty20

One of the great signs of a child’s independence is his or her ability to get up on Saturday morning, not wake up mom or dad, and turn on the TV without the help of a parent. And iPads make it a whole lot easier—that’s because a kid can use a streaming service like Netflix without needing anyone to change the channel or find a new program when the previous one is over. Everybody wins.

Since I’m the go-to parent who wakes up with the kids on weekends, I fully embraced my kid’s ability to learn how to swipe away at their favorite Netflix shows.The only problem was I had no idea there were parental control settings. Worse yet I had no idea that I hadn’t restricted what my kids could watch.

So when I heard my 8-year-old son tell a friend how he had watched “Poltergeist 3” on the iPad and that he had really enjoyed watching the raunchy horror movie spoof, “Scary Movie,” I was horrified and embarrassed. I had always been concerned that my kids could access inappropriate content. I just had no idea I could prevent it. My son’s viewing of “Poltergeist 3” served as a wake up call. I went home immediately and learned how to restrict what my kids could view on Netflix. You can, too.

Here's what you need to do.

First: Create individual profiles on your Netflix account for each person watching.

Why? Creating individual profiles allows you to set up individual parental controls on each. My kids use my iPad to watch Netflix so I have one profile for myself, one for my 8-year-old, and one for the 5-year-old. I set age appropriate parental controls for each of the kids and none for myself.

How? Login to Netflix. It'll take you to a "Who' Watching?" screen.

Tap on the plus sign icon (+) to add a profile. This will allow you to choose separate profiles for each family member and choose an individual icon for each. This is particularly helpful if your little Netlfix watcher isn't a reader yet. He can find his own profile, even if he can't yet read his name.

Once you’ve entered the name you want attached to the profile and have chosen a picture to associate with the profile, hit SAVE. Also, make sure to tap the “For Kids” tab if you are setting up an account for a child.

After you have saved all your profile names, exit out of the “Who is watching?" screen by tapping the “X” on the top right corner of the screen.

Next: Manage Each Profile Individually.

Why? You'll want to set up different control guidelines based on the different ages of your kids while leaving the opportunity for yourself to watch whatever you'd like.

How? Netflix has four maturity settings from which you can choose. You can include all four in your child’s profile, or restrict your child’s choices by maturity setting.

The maturity settings according to Netflix are:

  • Little Kids - Watch movies and TV shows suitable for all ages.
  • Older Kids - Watch movies and TV shows suitable for older kids.
  • Teens - Watch movies and TV shows suitable for teens.
  • Adults - Watch all movies and TV shows, including mature content.

Go to the top LEFT corner of your screen, there is a menu bar (three horizontal lines.) Scroll down to the bottom where it says, “Account.” Tap “account.” It will take you your account settings.

At the top menu bar on the account page, it will say "Kids." Click on that. It'll take you to a screen that says, "Who's watching?" Under the icons it will say, "Manage Profiles."

You’ll go to a “Parental Controls” screen that will ask if you want a password to be attached to that account for anyone wanting to view content above the maturity guideline you’ve attached.

For my account, I added a password so neither of my kids could figure out how to change their parenting controls. This is particularly helpful if you have tweens or teens who will quickly want to change their ability to watch whatever they want. Hit SAVE.

Under Account, go down to Settings and click on "Parental Controls."

From there choose the categories from which you'd like your children to be able to view shows.

Don't forget to hit SAVE. Repeat for each profile you've set up on your account.

And lastly, enjoy that extra little bit of sleep you'll get knowing your children are safely watching age-appropriate materials! Here's hoping they can reach their own snacks.

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