Keeping up with new technology is important for mums and dads - after all, we all want to know our kids are safe online. This is especially the case when some children seem to know more about it than we do! But what's the story when it comes to Netflix? We caught up with David Watkins, Director of Product Innovation for Kid and Family at Netflix, to find what the company has to say. Here's what you need to know about this online movie and TV subscription service before you decide if it's for your family...
What is Netflix?
Netflix gives you access to your own library of movies, TV series and documentaries. Subscribe monthly for £5.99 to be able to watch movies on your PC and Mac, Nintendo Wii, PS3® and Apple TV. The streaming is unlimited, and at least two people can use the account at once, meaning you could be watching a film or TV series while your kids watch something else on a different device.
What is Netflix “Just for Kids”?
Netflix “Just for Kids” offers a separate hub of movies and TV shows for under 12s, as part of the normal monthly subscription. The content has all been checked to ensure it’s appropriate for under 12s and is separated by a tab called “Just for Kids”.
- Films and TV shows are grouped by character rather than film title, so kids can find what they’re looking for, from Sonic to Peppa the Pig, without having to read lots of information.
- The content updates automatically as it ‘learns’ what types of programmes you watch. So if you watch a lot of Sonic, more Sonic content will get offered to you.
- If children search for a film or show within the kids’ section, the search will only bring up the content appropriate for under 12s - it won't search the whole Netflix library.
- An independent organisation was used to determine which content was appropriate for under 12s to watch.
- If the connection speed is low, the quality will be reduced until it picks up, rather than pausing and buffering.
- There are parental control settings at account level that allow you to block content by age certificate. From 18 and below to U and below. You will still be able to see the content as a DVD cover or promotional image, but you won’t be able to click through to the content.
- There are no options to purchase anything extra once you’re a member and using the site.
- There is nothing to stop your child switching between the “Just for Kids” section and the main adult section. The only barrier here would be if you’d set the account up to have certificate-based parental controls, where only titles of a set certificate would show. However, your children would still be able to see the covers and film titles of the blocked content, which could be age inappropriate. The parental control can also take up to eight hours to take effect, so it would be difficult to keep switching between the two if different members of the family wanted to be able to use it.
- Unlike sites like Disney’s Club Penguin, there is no option to control the amount of time kids spend on the site.
- The content is updated regularly but is only as current as the studios allow. Many are holding content to give them time for DVD sales before they go to online outlets so it can seem out of date.
What we liked:
- The customer service was excellent and our call was answered within one minute.
- The auto-updates based on what you like are accurate and happen quickly.
- It’s easy to cancel and there are good offers to trial it for a month.
What could be better:
- In a week's trial, all the movies we tried to watch were out of sync and unwatchable. There's an option to report the problem but we’ve had no response to this in the last seven days (and at the time of writing).
- The content does feel quite out of date, although some great classics are there.