This is a guest post written by Isa about “The Ultimate Guide to Netflix for Parents“. I’m sure most of you will find this useful. If you would like to know more about Isa, please scroll down to the bottom of this post where you can find her details, under “About the Author“.
Most of us either have our own Netflix or are borrowing someone else’s. As a result, it’s a pretty big deal! Before getting started, I’d like to take a moment to thank Franca for featuring this post on her blog. If your kids are into Yo-kai Watch, you might want to check out her review of one of Hasbro’s new toys.
The power balance is shifting when it comes to televised entertainment. In a world where cable once reigned supreme, Netflix has virtually been crowned the next prince. With a vast array of TV series and movies, a broad audience has already started to shift away from the tradition of having “thousands of channels and nothing to watch”.
Of course, that also means your kids are going to be getting into Netflix too. Fortunately, Netflix has made efforts to cater to the needs of parents; after all, not everything is appropriate for all ages.
As with many services, parental controls allow you to select what your kids can and cannot watch. But Netflix has done a little better by offering options that cater to different age groups of “kids.” It might seem a tad heavy-handed, but it’s very convenient.
We all know that children of different ages have wildly different interests. Kids 6-12 are going to want to watch things different than teenagers, as are kids in the 2-5 range. These options are helpful for both parties, as you won’t need to be concerned that the kids are watching shows inappropriate for their age group, and they’ll also be able to find what they want to see easier as well.
There were, however, some misgivings about the basics of the parental controls system. Once you’re logged in, it’s simple enough to log out of the “kids” account and go straight to the adult account (switching profiles is easy). As good as these settings are, they hardly qualify as the “ultimate” tool without their accompanying element.
To keep kids from changing the settings, you need to set a security PIN for parental controls. The option for those settings is listed under My Account and then Parental Controls. While not the most secure access code (it can only be four numbers), it’s enough to deter the less determined little rascals from being able to access the wrong programs.
If you’re still concerned, you’ll need to get a bit more involved.
Monitoring Your Kids
As kids get older, they don’t appreciate being watched all the time. But while society is statistically safer than ever for kids (seriously there aren’t going to be razor blades in the candy, we promise!) that doesn’t exempt us from needing to check in on them. Developing minds need someone to look around corners for them.
Fortunately, Netflix keeps a watch history of everything on your account profiles. Parental controls restrict content by age, but that doesn’t mean you’ll approve of absolutely everything they choose to watch. With the younger kids that may not be an issue; you probably shouldn’t give them free reign over the tube anyway until they’re old enough to be more responsible.
For the teenagers, it’s different. They’re going to want that independence to do what they want; some teenagers will even go as far as figuring out your PIN so they can access shows without you knowing. Of course, few of these teenagers remember that you can check your watch history.
Browse through the profiles now and then to check what they’ve been watching. If there’s something you don’t think is right, it may be time to talk about it. In the toughest case, you may need to change the account password and not leave it signed in. Responsibility and trust should be earned.
Accessing Foreign Content
Believe it or not, there are some superb films and programs available on Netflix—just not to you. Netflix restricts their content regionally, meaning shows might be available in Canada or the UK that aren’t available in the US; the opposite is also true. At the time I wrote this article, “Night at the Museum” was available in Canada but nowhere else.
Luckily that problem can be solved using a service known as a Virtual Private Network (VPN). When subscribed and connected through a VPN, Netflix thinks your location is whatever server you’ve selected (and there are servers throughout the world). Because of that, you can access Netflix content from other countries without actually being there.
But using a VPN isn’t something most of us know a lot about. If you’d like to learn more about setting up your own VPN, Secure Thoughts has a guide specifically for Netflix. It’s a good option should you find yourself needing to travel out of the country or just want access to additional content.
Netflix’s Hidden Settings
Another thing you ought to know about Netflix is its secret menu. Either because the authors felt some users shouldn’t mess with all of the settings or they’re just a fan of hidden settings, there actually are a few “special” settings you can’t usually access. That is, unless you know how.
Those settings are predominantly related to how Netflix loads your videos. If you’ve ever been on unstable or fluctuating internet, you’ve probably run into Netflix buffering videos (pausing to load, essentially). You can actually fix that setting by accessing the secret menu via one of three different methods:
• For PC users, Shift+Alt+Left Click (all at once)
• For Mac users, Shift+Option+Click
• For Game consoles, Up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-up-up-up (also good for extra lives in Konami’s Contra…well almost)
The hidden menu allows you to adjust how your account buffers. With it off, video quality will go down when internet speed goes down, but the video will keep playing. It’s a good trick to know, especially if you and the kids decide to travel. Mom and dad can be patient, but sometimes your toddler won’t be so forgiving.
Closed captioning or subtitles are something you might occasionally like to use on films if the volume levels vary too much or you’re watching films in foreign languages. It can also be a good way to help younger kids practice their reading. But we weren’t all born with perfect 20/20 vision either.
If you go to the Your Account section on Netflix, you can adjust the size and color of subtitles as they appear on your programs. It’s especially useful on the rare film where everything is very brightly colored and your closed captions just happen to be in bright yellow.
Feel like we missed something on Netflix? Having trouble getting settings exactly the way you want? Leave us a comment below so we know!
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