How to Use Netflix's Parental Controls

Photo: JGI / Jamie Grill

Everybody loves Netflix, I mean seriously, there is probably some idiot out there right now that is getting or has already gotten themselves a Netflix tattoo.

You love Netflix, your parents love Netflix, and your kids probably also love Netflix. It’s omnipresent, from your tablet, to your phone, to your kids' game system, and of course it’s now being built directly into TV sets.  When you want to watch something anywhere at anytime, “big red” is there waiting for you.

The problem is there is probably a lot of stuff on Netflix that you might not want your kids to have access to. What can you do as a parent to keep your kids away from all the stuff that their eyes and ears aren’t ready to handle?

Netflix’s parental controls are fairly limited and may not as robust as you would like to see as a parent, but there are several things you can do to implement some level of content filtering.

What Kind of Netflix Parental Controls Are Available?

Netflix’s “Maturity” Level Content Filtering

One of Netflix’s main methods of providing some level of parental control is by using maturity levels to determine what content your child is permitted to view. The maturity levels offered include the following:

  • Little Kids - Watch movies and TV shows suitable for all ages.
  • Older Kids - Watch movies and TV shows suitable for older kids.
  • Teens - Watch movies and TV shows suitable for teens.
  • Adults - Watch all movies and TV shows, including mature content.

How Do I Set Up Netflix’s Content Filtering Parental Controls?

Maturity level controls can be managed from the “Your Account” page of the Netflix website. This setting can only be changed with a web browser from your computer (or other compatible device that allows you browser access to all the settings on the “Your Account” page). Settings changes made here will be applied to all devices that are currently logged in using your Netflix account credentials.

To Set up Maturity-Level Content Filtering on Your Netflix Account:

  1. Log in to your Netflix Account Via Your Computer’s Web Browser.
  2. Navigate to the “Your Account” page.
  3. Click “Edit” on the profile you wish to enable content filtering on.
  4. Select the highest level of age-appropriate content that you wish to permit by selecting the appropriate maturity level from the drop-down menu.
  5.  If you want set the profile to "kid-friendly" by default, tick the checkbox marked “This is a profile for kids under 12” under the “Manage Profiles” section of your Netflix account . This setting also prevents the ability to connect the Netflix profile to Facebook.

To be able to watch something beyond the maturity level of the logged-in profile, you would have to go back into the account settings and repeat the steps above, choosing the level of the content you wish to allow.

Your geographic region will have it’s own content standards, which should map to what is offered by Netflix in you area.  Check this Wikipedia site on content standards by region for more information.

On their parental controls help page, Netflix states that It can take up to 8 hours for changes to parental controls to take effect. They advise that if you want to speed this process up, sign out of your Netflix account on the device you want to watch content on and then sign back in.

The Quick and Easy Method of Parental Control

If you want a sure-fire method of parental control that doesn’t rely on profiles and content limits to prevent your kids from watching inappropriate content and you don’t have the time to fiddle with profiles, consider the nuclear option: log them out of Netflix on their device and change the password to something that they don’t already know.

Logging them out ensures that they can’t watch anything at all until you manually log them back in. If you’re on a computer then you may need to clear cached passwords in your browser to make sure that they can’t log back in with a cached password.