What is Netflix?

netflix_logo.pngNetflix is a video streaming and DVD and Blu-Ray rent-by-mail service.1 Subscribers pay a monthly fee which is determined by the amount of discs you choose to have at your home at one time. Besides getting movies sent to your house, you can also view a variety of streaming movies and TV shows. Since July 2011, these two options are under separate payment plans, but subscribers can opt to pay for both. Netflix does not offer as many movies and TV shows in their “Watch Instantly” streaming section of their service but it is continually growing and videos are added quite frequently. These videos range from films and TV shows that have been recently released to ones that were released many years ago.

History, Inc. was started in 1997 by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph. Hastings came up with the rent-by-mail idea after he was charged a substantial fee on an overdue videotape. Although DVD’s were new to the market and few people had DVD players, both Hastings and Randolph saw the potential the smaller disc had to replace the larger videotape. Since the time of their opening, they have changed their process slightly. For example, they now charge monthly instead of for each DVD. But the concept has stayed the same and its popularity has greatly expanded.

In 2002, the company changed its name to Netflix, Inc. In 2007, Hastings announced the Netflix Player, which would allow subscribers to stream movies directly to their TV. But days before the release of this player, he announced that there would be no Netflix Player. He allowed the developer to take the technology and use it through a different company. Hastings then stated that Netflix would embed streaming videos into devices that consumers already had. In September of 2011, Netflix announced the separation of the streaming video and the DVD by mail service which was renamed Qwickster.2 In October of the same year, this decision was reversed so both the online streaming and DVD by mail services remain on the same website. Today, Netflix has equipped an estimated 10 million different products with their service. Streaming video can be accessed through various DVD and Blu-ray players as well as video game consoles and computers (through the Netflix website).3

Concerns for Parents

• Netflix provides access to thousands of movies from a wide spectrum. While many films on Netflix are appropriate for children, there are also many films that contain extreme violence, sexual content, and profanity. Like any media service that provides access to a large amount of content, parents should ensure their children are not accessing inappropriate content on these services.

• Netflix does not have parental controls turned on by default. See the section below for information on how to enable parental controls on Netflix.

How Can I Keep My Child Safe?

  • Set up a profile for your child. Any account can have up to five profiles and each profile can have separate parental controls. 4 A profile can also be "kid friendly" which means that the movies shown are filtered by the Common Sense Media ratings. Parental controls will take precedence over the "kid friendly" setting. 5 While profiles can be useful, be aware that any user can switch profiles without a password, so a child could access an adult profile and avoid the controls.
  • For accounts that include instant streaming, only the owner of the account may access Watch Instantly. In order for your child to watch a streaming video, you must sign onto your account for them. This is will allow you to monitor what they watch.
  • A history of all activity is also available for you to see what your family has been watching. To view this history, log into Netflix and go to "Your Account and Help" then "See all instant watching activity".
  • Netflix's parental controls allow blocking movies or shows that are above a certain rating. There are four options, and the exact ratings for each option differ by region. Currently, the four options are:
    • Little Kids
    • Older Kids
    • Teens
    • Adult 6
  • Many movies now feature a "Common Sense rating" that features useful information for parents, including notes about the sexual content, violence, drug use, etc. in the movie.
  • Research the player that you are using for streaming videos. Some, such as the Xbox will allow you to set up additional parental controls.

How-To Enable Netflix's Parental Controls

  1. Log into Netflix's website with your username and password.
  2. Click the Your Account and Help link at the top-right of the screen
  3. Under the Preferences section on the account page, click the Parental control setting link.
  4. On the Change Parental Control Setting screen, choose the rating level of films you wish to be viewable on the account.
  5. Click Save

Where Can I Learn More?

Netflix heading to Canada this fall, ZD Net.