My son and I share a Netflix account and recently I’ve been curious whether he’s been watching “R” rated soft-porn movies. How can I tell what he’s watched, and are there any sort of parental controls on Netflix?
Without limitations to access, Netflix really is a proverbial den of inequity, with its extraordinary range of TV shows and movies that are enough to make any parent anxious and any child rub their hands in titillated glee. There’s definitely what you so aptly refer to as “soft porn”, films that might even have a PG-13 rating but are still full of more couplings than a train station, if y’know what I mean.
Before I talk about Netflix in specific, however, I want to point out that there’s just as much potentially inappropriate content on YouTube and scattered throughout the Internet, so to some extent giving a child access to the Internet means that the world’s information — for good and bad — is now at their fingertips. So you can close down access to content through Netflix but you can’t really completely block everything.
With that caveat in mind, yes, Netflix does offer some parental controls and, perhaps more importantly, you can also see a list of what TV and movies your son has viewed, even if they just watched a few minutes and bailed because it was stupid or embarrassing…
To start, log in to your Netflix account via a Web browser. The top right shows which account you’ve logged in as, which turns out to be a menu if you click on it:
You can see that I have three profiles, generically named “Dad”, “Daughter” and my own, “Dave”. To proceed, click on “Manage Profiles” just below it for now.
You’ll see the profiles listed thusly:
You can change any of the pics by clicking “Edit” then moving your cursor over the picture:
But more importantly, notice the checkbox “This is a profile for kids under 12″. That’s one way to limit things to kid-friendly material, but instead, choose the profile you want to modify and go back to the main Netflix view.
Now you’re viewing it “as that person” (they should be the profile shown on the top right. If not, choose them again from the menu).
With that done, choose “Your Account” from the menu (see pic, earlier) and you’ll see a number of options for that specific profile:
Click on “Viewing activity” and voila! A list of what that account has viewed:
This isn’t me, don’t get too excited. This is my 17yo daughter’s profile we’re looking at here, and I can see that she’s a big fan of Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars, but doesn’t always make it through the entire 42min episode. That’s because she watches these while we’re at the gym mostly, so apparently they’re not compelling enough to go back and watch the last few minutes if we run out of time.
One more step. Go back to the big “Your Account” settings for a specific profile and click on “Parental control setting” to see the simple slider Netflix makes available:
Pretty vague, actually. Does a “teen” allow PG13? R? Soft R but not hard R? Unrated?
Still, better than nothing and I imagine if your son is like my daughter, he’s quite capable of asking you to adjust the settings as he believes is fit and appropriate and at least that then opens up the opportunity for an important discussion about fantasy, reality and media.