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Dear Online Streaming Services, Your Parental Controls Suck.

Would it kill you to make it simple and easy to control the stuff my kids are streaming?
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I have three boys ages (almost) 10, 8 and 5.

We subscribe to Netflix and Hulu and Amazon and stream them on every tv we have in this house, including a few iPads and iPhones too.

Streaming is the name of the game these days and all the kids are doing it. So riddle me this, WHY ARE THE PARENTAL CONTROLS ON MOST STREAMING SERVICES SO FREAKING INADEQUATE?

I'll give Netflix a little bit of credit, they've made some major improvements in the past year. Content can be controlled by a 4 digit PIN that restricts certain ratings or titles. You can also set up profiles for each family member and curate the content for each profile. You can also block access to individual shows which is definitely new and appreciated.

There's still a huge problem in that you can't PIN restrict individual profiles so there's nothing stopping my kids from hopping over to my profile and scrolling through all the shows I'm currently watching and all the of the ones that Netflix has added in there too, even if they can't actually watch the show unless they know the PIN I've set up for any show rated above PG. I dunno, some of those thumbnails and previews are a little racy and I don't need my kid knowing what's on my after bedtime viewing que.

As far as Amazon and Hulu go, I remain unimpressed.

With Amazon, you can block purchases with a PIN and you can block certain ratings I guess. But it's still awful simplistic and hard to find the location to set up parental controls, and you can't set up a separate viewing account for kids meaning said kids potentially have to scroll through content that's not necessarily appropriate to find what they want to view. Click this link to adjust your Prime video parental controls.

Hulu? Hulu doesn't even try. They just have a disclaimer on their site barring use of their platform for anyone under age 17 and that's it. There are no parental controls and kids can just blow right by that disclaimer because half of them can't even read anyway.

It's fine, we're all fine. The internet is fine and totally wholesome and nobody needs to pay attention to anything.

Except it's not, and kids aren't dummies. I'm rapidly approaching the time with my own kids where they understand technology better than me and the thought of that makes me deeply uncomfortable because while the internet is full of delightful cat memes that bring me great joy and also the googling power to make me a genius by proxy, it still scares me when I think about all the other stuff that's not so wholesome and personally fulfilling as that video of the miniature Pomeranian dog under the blow dryer at max fluff that I just DM'd to all my friends.

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It's 2018, streaming is the norm and I'm grateful because we can all agree that commercials are pretty much the worst but we can also agree that streaming services can do better and it's about dang time that they did.

Hulu, Amazon, get your ish together.

Netflix, figure out a way for me to lock individual profiles and I'll be a much happier mom when I know my kids aren't scrolling past stuff I don't necessarily want them to see.

Let's get some more simple, straightforward parental controls up in here already.

In the great words of that crazy old wiseman baboon from The Lion King...IT IS TIME.


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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