While on-demand video streaming sites have changed the way we consume content, they also host content that you would like not like your kids to see. Adult content like sex and violent scenes can give your kids a wrong ideas, and ruining their innocence. But, that doesn’t make these streaming sites any bad. Their job is to cater to all sorts of audience. I mean who didn’t like Marvel’s heroes fighting gruesome villains in Hell’s Kitchen!
So, what can you do about it? Use parental controls to make sure they are watching content which is appropriate for their age. In today’s guide, I will cover some of the most popular video streaming sites and show you how to make it “kids friendly” by setting parental controls.
How to Set Parental Controls on YouTube
If you don’t know it yet, there is a YouTube app just for kids. Yes, YouTube Kids is available on iOS and Android platforms. This was a smart move on part of Google because now, I can simply lock/passcode protect the YouTube app forcing the kids to use YouTube Kids.
It comes with parental control and filters enabled. It is worth noting that YouTube Kids features content specifically targeted at kids in music, education, and other categories. Other features include a timer for screen time, disabling search function, and limited ads.
Still, if you want to block adult content on the YouTube app, there is a way. Follow these steps:
Launch YouTube in your favorite browser and sign in. Click on your profile pic on the top right and select Restricted Mode.
This will open a drop-down menu with a single toggle option and a message. It will tell you what restricted mode is and how it works. Pretty simple stuff. There is also a disclaimer that basically protects Google in case something slips. Click the toggle button.
A simple adult-related search on YouTube confirms that the settings are working as they should be.
If you are using iOS, click on your profile and under Settings, you will find the Restricted Mode toggle button. For Android users, the option can be found under Settings – General.
Lock YouTube Restricted Mode
Wait, that was too easy. The kids could just turn it off again. To counter this issue, Google provides lock feature. Simply sign out of your YouTube account in the browser/app and the settings will be locked. Note that settings are browser specific, so you will have to repeat it on every browser.
Also Read: Top 5 Parental Control Apps For Android
How to Set Parental Controls on Netflix
Netflix takes a different approach. There are soft controls and then there are hard controls. Under the soft controls, Netflix will allow you to have multiple profiles and set maturity levels for each individual profile that will determine the content you can access. There are four types:
- For little children only – Suitable for all ages
- For Older children and younger – Suitable for older kids
- For teens and below – Suitable for teens
- All maturity levels – Mature content
Here are the steps:
Go to Netflix and sign in. You will see a screen like this. Click on Manage Profiles.
The Kids profile comes default, but you can make changes as necessary. Click on the Kids profile which should now show an edit button.
Under Allowed TV Programmes and Films, you will see two options: For little children only and For older children and younger. The first is for really small children who are into animated stuff while the latter is good for teens who can watch Stars Wars and Harry Potter movies. Play around and see which one suits you best. When done, click save and in the next screen, click Done.
Note: Did you noticed the Child option? Clicking on it will restrict all content that is not safe for children under 12 years of age.
You can also monitor what your kids are watching on Netflix by viewing their activity. To do this, go to Account and scroll to the bottom where it says My Profile. Click on Viewing Activity.
This will show you a list of all the shows and movies that your kids have watched. Soft controls allow your kids to watch content that is suitable for them. But things can still slip through the cracks which is where the hard controls come in.
The hard control will allow you to set a pin code to access an account that allows access to mature content. To set up Netflix hard controls, which is what I recommend over the above solution, you will need to open the site in your browser. This doesn’t work on the app.
Go to Account and scroll down to Settings where you will see an option Parental Controls. Click on it.
You will be asked to enter your Netflix account password. Do it and click Continue.
You can now enter a four-digit numerical profile passcode. You can also set content that will be available without the need for a password.
Your kids can now only access content that is deemed appropriate for them based on ratings like R, PG, PG-13, TV-14, and so on.
How to Set Parental Controls on Hulu
Hulu to trying hard to be the next Netflix. It has some great content to offer. Setting parental controls on Hulu is easy because there are not enough options anyway.
Hulu clearly states that access to content is based on the age that you have entered in your account profile. You cannot access mature content if you are under 17 years old.
While this may work, this is not enough. How hard is it to change age in your profile? Hulu suggests you create a new profile for your kids with the right age restriction in place. If you are a Hulu Plus subscriber, there is a Hulu Kids section you can explore.
How to Set Parental Controls on Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime takes this issue more seriously than Hulu and offers a bunch of features to manage parental controls. Let’s take a look.
Log in to your Prime account, click on your profile and select Accounts and Settings.
There are different tabs. Click on Parental Controls where you can manage everything under a single roof. More organized and easy to access.
The first option is Prime Video Pin where you can set a passcode to prevent your kids from accessing Prime content. Unfortunately, Amazon Prime doesn’t allow creating separate profiles for kids like Netflix. Maybe they will read this guide and take a hint?
The next option is Viewing Restrictions which will let you set an age limit for the type of content your kids can view. To access these videos, you will have to enter the pin you set up above. There are five categories: Kids, Older Kids, Teens, Young Adults, and Adults. The number on the left represents age.
There is a link below that explains how age restriction works and maturity ratings are calculated. Since every country has their own governing body, read what applied to your country.
Apart from this, Amazon says you can also restrict certain categories and block access to all content under them. There are four main categories that are governed by MPAA ratings: General, Family, Teen, and Mature. While this is good, I was not able to sort content based on categories in Prime! Amazon Prime does have a separate Kids section though which is cool.
If your kid is using a different device than you are, Prime has an additional option to block certain devices. This option lies just below Viewing Restrictions. Just untick any device you don’t want to allow access to.
Amazon Prime also offers Purchase Pin restriction which means you will have to enter the pin before you can purchase anything on Prime like shows and movies. You know, kids can go on a buying spree anytime!
In the end, there is a Watch History tab which works like Netflix where you can keep tabs on what your kids were watching when you were gone. Unlike Netflix, these settings can be changed via the app.
Wrapping Up: How to Set Parental Controls on Video Streaming Sites
The reason I covered these four sites is that they are currently some of the most viewed on-demand video content platforms that are a hit with the kids and adults alike. Let us know what you think in the comments below, or if you have a question.