Image from Netflix about their updated parental controls
April 16, 2020

VICTORY! Updates to Netflix Parental Controls, Explained

Netflix, the at-home streaming monolith, recently announced some key changes to their parental controls. After the National Center on Sexual Exploitation named Netflix to its 2019 and 2020 Dirty Dozen Lists due to severe issues with its parental controls, in addition to the graphic sexual content being produced by the company, we are excited to announce these new changes as critical victories in our ongoing battle with Netflix.

Before being placed on the 2019 Dirty Dozen List, Netflix had serious problems with its parental control features. Many parents would create a “profile” on Netflix for their child and, on that profile, they would block certain ratings, such as TV-MA, or specific TV shows or movies by title with a four-digit PIN. However, there was a loophole! That child could easily leave their assigned profile and then access the same harmful content via their mom or dad’s profile—no PIN required!

After you joined with us in calling them out in 2019, Netflix improved its system so that any PIN set by the account holder would apply to all profiles. This change closed the loophole that had made Netflix’s previous safety features all but entirely irrelevant and made it much easier for parents to keep their children from stumbling upon harmful content.

However, while the ability to PIN block across all profiles was an improvement, many parents found the constant security popup inconvenient for them and their families and many chose not to use the cumbersome setting. Accordingly, NCOSE asked Netflix to provide a way to apply the PIN to only specific profiles and to lock individual profiles by PIN so that children still wouldn’t be able to easily switch between them.

And now, after being named a member of our 2020 Dirty Dozen List, Netflix has finally made this change! The newest update to Netflix parental controls includes the very thing we have been asking for: the ability to add PINs to gate access to specific profiles instead of the entire Netflix account. This is a huge improvement!

In addition to this change with the PIN feature, Netflix also allows parents to customize maturity ratings for profiles so their children can only see and play certain content based on its age-rating. It’s also possible for parents to block (and unblock) individual movies and TV shows so that no inappropriate content slips through the cracks.

Still from Netflix's "The Witcher" TV show
Netflix’s “The Witcher” is Yet Another Example of Exploitation in Entertainment

While we are still holding Netflix accountable for their myriad Netflix Original productions portraying gratuitous nudity, graphic sexual acts, and even graphic depictions of sexual assault, we commend them for this helpful change to parental controls.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation and thousands of parents who have used our Actions to advocate for these improvements want to thank Netflix for finally providing more robust and safe parental controls for the millions of families that use their services. At the same time, we are still eagerly anticipating and working toward further communication with Netflix in regards to other ways that they are profiting from sexual exploitation.

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Sommer Porter

Development Coordinator and Research Associate

Sommer Porter is a graduate of Brigham Young University, earning her bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in International Development. She is passionate about solving important world issues such as sexual exploitation through non-profit work and advocacy. She has worked with several non-profits, including spending three months conducting a program evaluation for an organization based in Bulgaria. She now works as the Development Coordinator and Research Associate at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and hopes to pursue a graduate degree in the future.

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