Monday, October 28, 2013

dear netflix.


Unless you make it possible for me, as a concerned and responsible parent, to block certain suggested viewing options daughters' personal viewing profiles, I will be discontinuing the use of your service.

I was under the false impression that setting up profiles would take care of the issue of my daughters potentially encountering inappropriate viewing material.

But here is a screenshot of the current suggested items for my little girl.

My daughter loves Daniel Tiger. And Finn the Human Boy and Jake the Magic Dog. And George the monkey. And squeaky voiced Elmo. And the Powah-gulls. And Justin and Squidgy. And Mona the Vampire. And that's great, because she's 2.

But she does not need tiny-waisted sexy Bratz fairies with anorexic limbs and boyfriends in her life. Or Barbie. Frankly, none of us do. So please, dear powers-that-be, stop suggesting to her that she ought to be watching them instead of Daniel Tiger.

mugga mugga,

Clare and Zadie's mom

***update: I've had two informative chats with the online help at, and here's the result. You can exercise some measure of control over this, but it's not intuitive. When you set up profiles there's a box to check or uncheck that says "kids under 12." So, when Brent set up the profiles, he clicked that Clare and Z's were kid profiles by clicking that box. Because that seems easy-peasy and all. However, Netflix actually has four different age-related ratings, Little Kids, Older Kids, Teens, and Adults. You can find that when you go to your account settings, but it doesn't give age ranges and also, if you've already clicked the box on the individual profiles for "kid under 12," it doesn't let you change the parental control setting to "little kid." You have to go unclick the box on the profile, and then it will give you the option to set the profile to "little kid."

That's the good news.

The bad news is, despite having rated 100+ kids movies and clicked on "not interested" for Barbie, Winx Club, etc., they remain in full view on both my daughters' profiles in the top category of suggestions, "popular on Netflix." I can't get them to go away. So, Winx Club remains, literally, the first thing my daughter will see on her home page. Presumably it will eventually disappear because she won't be watching it, and it will get replaced with suggestions only from the "little kid" category, but I don't know when that will happen.

The bigger problem I see in all this is, as a parent, I have no surefire way to block content, and what I do have is non-intuitive and labor-intensive. At 7 Clare is aging out of little kid territory pretty soon. Parental control is not content-based, at least not directly, but age-category based, and someone other than me is making decisions about what content is appropriate for what age--and in general, what content is appropriate, period. Or worse, and more accurately, they're not making any judgments about appropriate content, because that's not really their job--which means that at, as soon as I click "older kids" for Clare, we're in Winx Club territory no matter what. So, fine, that's not actually their job--it's mine, because I'm the parent. But I need a better way to do my job. I can't blame Netflix for the larger issues of structural sexism and the early childhood sexualization of girls that is rampant in media--but given that this is a huge problem, I think a big fat red VETO button for any cartoon that will teach my daughter false and harmful things about her gender and sexuality is necessary.


Tera said...

I have had exactly the same frustration with Netflix, particularly since Owen (who is 4) sometimes watches shows on the iPad and can change shows by himself. I like that he has that independence (I mean, if I'm going to let him watch a tv show, I'm usually going to spend those precious few minutes doing something that needs to be done), but I've often wished for more detailed parental controls. Thanks for telling us about the little kid setting.

JJT said...

Tera, I also got a tip from my have tech guru that you can click on "order my account" under account settings and set it to "manual," which also should make a difference. This was something the netflix help chats didn't mention.

Unknown said...

Why don't u control what you child chooses to watch by monitoring them.... If you have a 2 yr old you should be picking the shows not them.... So it shouldn't be an issue right? There are real issues for u to be complaining about that are really out of our control. So stop complaining about an issue you should be controlling in the first place! Be a parent TVs did not always have perental control they used to have monitor and I teract with there kids... Try that!

JJT said...

Thanks for the advice, Courtney. If you go back and read the post carefully, you'll catch that the reason I'm complaining is the limits that Netflix's "suggested" category limits my control. I can set limits, but I can't prevent Netflix from constantly putting the off limits shows right in front of my 7YO and 2YO's faces.

Anonymous said...

I' m kinda with Courtney on this. If you dont want your children watching those programs dont let them. You cant shield your child from everything. I do agree on bratz, but barbie and winx.....

Anonymous said...

This is stupid. I grew up watching winxs and playing with Barbie. I am now 20, and I can assure you any issues with self consciousness I have ever had certainly did not come from a tv show or a doll. It did, however, come from a lot of my peers starting around the 4th grade. Your child is going to have to deal with issues, and maybe instead of blocking the shows explain to her why you don't want her watching them. From someone who coaches gymnastics to kids 4 and up your child is smarter than you think she is, and if you start talking to her about these issues now (like telling her when you see a slim model, or a Barbie in an add that it is not the norm to look like that) she will be much better prepared than trying to shelter her, because she will be faced with these issues regardless.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post!!! I have been trying to figure out how to get rid of Barbie, those weird fairies and the ponies. Hope these tips help.

Anonymous said...

Why do people comment if they don't want to answer or at least discuss the question asked? The poster asked a reasonable question about a feature that Netflix should already have. I have a four-year-old daughter who wants to watch Barbie. I watched about 5 minutes of it with her and decided that it is not a show that she needs to be watching so I want to remove it from the screen. I don't want to see it period. I can't seem to banish it from the screen and every time she sees it as an option she wants to watch it which ends in tears when I won’t let her. Hence I am here.

The poster doesn’t need someone posting about how things they watched never affected them (doubtful), or asking them why she doesn’t monitor her child (obviously she does or she wouldn’t be asking).

As someone else interested in the question I really don't care about those, frankly idiotic, distractions that do nothing to address the question asked. I suspect most people who googled “netflix block specific shows” don’t care about those off topic comments either.

It should be trivial to blacklist specific shows and get them off the screen until they are unblocked. That is what the question asked.