Using Parental Controls For Blocking Shows On Netflix

Streaming services like Netflix understand that more than one family member is often watching content in the house. Those family members can have very different interests. While this often comes down to a matter of taste—like when you and your significant other find different comedies funny—younger children often also use the same Netflix account as their parents. While a child might be old enough to be trusted with the Netflix account without constant supervision, there’s enough on Netflix that children of certain ages should avoid that it’s not hard to imagine them stumbling on it by accident.

With the newest updates to their settings, Netflix has shown they’re listening to their customers and adding the changes people have wanted for years. In addition to the parameters and parental controls you have always been able to set up from your account, which limits what different users can see, you can now use PIN codes to restrict specific content from your child, allowing them to enjoy Netflix content without you having to watch their usage like a hawk.

This lets you keep watching all the action, horror, and romance you want on your account, without worrying about the kids in your house. Let’s look at the various parental controls offered by Netflix.

Applying Parental Controls on Netflix

Though Netflix’s parental controls started out basic, the company has added more and more functionality to the service throughout the last two years. Adding features like PIN codes to restrict specific content, Netflix’s parental controls have become difficult to use and apply to every profile on your account. Plus, with some features like PIN blocking restricted to every single title on Netflix, it became increasingly frustrating to use Netflix’s parental controls, especially since most children require different settings on their profile.

While there is something to be said about the importance of setting up parental controls on all of the profiles on your account, the times have changed, and Netflix is recognizing that without specific settings for each profile, there’s nothing stopping your kids from switching profiles to access unblocked content.

So, in 2020, Netflix has finally adapted to the times and completely redesigned their parental controls dashboard, while also adding even more control to each profile. You can only control account usage from a desktop browser, so once you’re ready to place parental controls on your account, grab your computer and head to Netflix’s website, then follow the steps below:

  1. When Netflix loads into the profile selection screen, select any of the profiles associated with your account from the opening display. Since Netflix’s new dashboard allows you to control every profile, it doesn’t matter which one you use to set it up.
  2. Once that profile’s home screen has loaded, locate the name of the profile in the top-right corner of the display. Click on the name of your profile to access the drop-down menu inside of Netflix. This menu allows for you to change profiles within your account, as well as access your profile settings and watch history.
  3. Click on Account to continue into your account settings.
  4. At the bottom of your account settings page is the “Profile and Parental Controls” dashboard Netflix integrated into your account in 2020.

There are a lot of controls you can use here to change how Netflix works between profiles, so it’s worth looking at each of these individual settings one at a time, in order to discuss how each impacts your viewing experience.

Viewing Restrictions

Netflix used to use custom names for applying viewing restrictions to their profiles, but in 2020, they reverted back to using standard TV and movie ratings. This makes it a lot easier to control, especially if you’re already familiar with how TV and movie ratings work.

  • TV-Y and TV-Y7: These are the most restricted ratings you’ll find on Netflix, perfect for children aged six and below. Program examples include She-ra and the Princesses of PowerKipo and the Age of the WonderbeastsHildaYu-Gi-OhThe Magic School Bus, and many other shows designed for children. It’s worth noting that, at these ratings, Netflix’s movie section is largely limited to animated TV movies. If you want to include standard theatrical releases, you’ll have to bump your rating up to the next tier.
  • TV-G and G: In theatrical releases, G refers to general audiences, which means these movies are appropriate for all ages. TV-G is the television equivalent of a G rating, designed for content made for TV. This is probably the best rating for kids of all ages, since it nets you the widest set of kid-friendly TV shows while also allowing access to classics like TarzanThe Princess and the Frog, Jimmy NeutronShaun the Sheep in Farmageddon, and The Rugrats Movie.
  • TV-PG and PG: If you’re looking to create a profile for an older child who might not be ready for teen-specific content yet, opening their profile to more movies and TV shows primarily aimed at tweens and viewers of all ages. While most PG content made in the last twenty years is pretty kid-friendly, older PG films include more mature titles like Jaws and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
  • PG-13 and TV-14: When your child starts getting close to the end of middle school, you can open them up to new content. Setting the slider to Teens allows your profiles to access all of the aforementioned content from Little and Older Kids, along with the addition of PG-13 and TV-14 content. Most films released these days are rated PG-13, including all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. These films might be fit for younger eyes, but PG-13 can also include raunchy comedies or other content that may be questionable for certain demographics. Likewise, shows like Mad Men and Better Call Saul both content violence and sex, but are rated TV-14.
  • R and TV-MA: Once you’re allowing this level of content, you’ll have most things available on Netflix to stream. That includes all TV shows (TV-MA is the highest rating for television) and R rated movies.
  • NC-17: Because of theater policies in the United States, there is very little NC-17 content available anywhere, both on and off Netflix. Still, if you allow up to NC-17 content, you’re allowing anything and everything on their service to be streamable.

If you aren’t sure what something is rated, try playing it on Netflix. In 2018, the company added rating information in-display when the movie or show begins, similar to what’s offered when a show or film begins airing on network or cable television. This rating information appears as on overlay, so as not to distract you from the content, and offers immediate context on what’s about to be displayed on-screen.

Title Restrictions

In 2018, Netflix finally add a feature their customers had been asking for for years: the ability to block certain shows and movies specifically, in order to better customize the experience for their children. Whether it comes down to content that Netflix subscribers find problematic or offensive for their families, TV shows and movies that feature messages deemed inappropriate for the children in their household, or content that is simply frustrating and annoying to listen to for hours each day, parents everywhere asked Netflix to improve how they managed their parental controls, and two years ago, the company finally delivered. Now, in 2020, they’ve taken it one step farther.

When you hide a title using Netflix’s new title restrictions, it removes the title entirely from view for that profile. Just enter the title of a show or movie into the search box and select it from a drop-down menu.

Profile Lock

One of the best new features Netflix added in 2020 is a profile lock, allowing you to place unique pins on each profile on your account to only allow your children access to their own individual profiles. To set a profile lock, head to the dashboard, then select Profile Lock from the list of options. Enter your account password to make changes, and Netflix will prompt you to create a pin for this account.

Once you return to the main menu on Netflix, you’ll notice a small lock icon next to any locked profile. Clicking on this lock will prompt you to enter your pin to load the profile. While you could consider putting this on all profiles, it’s especially helpful for profiles where most or all content isn’t blocked. A pin keeps your kids from loading your own profile, without you having to input a code every single time you want to watch an R-rated movie on your account.

Profile locks can be placed on all accounts, regardless of the level of content allowed.

Viewing Activity

Though the new pin feature should put an end to your children clicking on a new profile, if you are still worried about what your kids are watching, you can view each profile’s viewing history using this menu in the new dashboard. Click on ‘View’ under ‘Viewing Activity’ to load a full list of both watched media and rated media under each individual user. When you’re done, hit “Back to Your Account” to return back to the parental controls dashboard.

Playback Settings

Playback settings aren’t something you would probably consider a parental control option, but some parents might want to modify how playback works on their kids’ accounts—especially considering Netflix’s autoplay setting. Autoplay can be dangerous for many children, especially since it encourages kids to keep watching without moving from the couch.

To control how autoplay works, head to the autoplay section of your profile controls and use the checkboxes at the top of the page to change your settings. Turning off autoplay in a series will stop your favorite shows from progressing without manually starting a new episode while turning off auto-playing previews will let you browse Netflix without trailers playing in the background.

Setting Kids-Only Access to a Netflix Profile

It’s worth noting that Netflix also has a Kids-Only access mode built into the application, allowing you to easily block all mature content from view, helping you maintain control without having to worry about what your child is viewing while browsing through the app. This mode is automatically enabled when using specific content controls on profiles as detailed above. Though the Teens level of content blocking will allow for a normal Netflix display, both the Little and Older Kids options will reformat Netflix into the Kids version of the app, hiding all teen and mature content.

To set any profile on Netflix to Kids-Only access, head to the “Manage Profiles” display detailed in the instructions above. From this screen, click on the profile you’d like to set to Kids-Only. In the corner of the profile display, you’ll find an option to set the account as Kids.

Check the box next to this display and save the profile settings. When you load back into the profile, only PG-and-lower content will be displayed on the account, blocking any other content from younger eyes.

You can also switch to a permanent Kids-Only mode inside the profile switcher by tapping on the Kids icon. This eliminates the need for your children to have their own profiles, instead of relying on the Kids profile. The Kids view highlights specific characters along the top of the screen and their related content, along with family-safe Netflix Originals like Fuller House, The Adventures of Puss In Boots, and Dreamworks’ Dragons series. 

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The addition of specific title blocking is one of Netflix’s most-requested parental features, judging by sources in online communities and in our comments below, and we’re happy that Netflix has finally begun rolling out these changes.

As services like Netflix continue to become the go-to choice for entertainment in your living room, parental controls and content blockers become more and more important to use. Setting up parental controls and PIN locks on profiles with Netflix are the perfect way to help your child find appropriate content while remaining independent.

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