Netflix has the best parental controls and Hulu the worst, with the other streaming services falling somewhere in between, according to a new report by the Parents Television and Media Council.
The report compared the parental controls of nine streaming services and found that Netflix's parental controls stand out by allowing families to lock profiles, block shows, turn off autoplay, create profiles with specific maturity ratings, and access viewing history.
Disney Plus has the second-best parental controls, giving parents the option of creating children's profiles and limiting access to other profiles with a pin or password, the report says.
Apple TV, which also allows parents to restrict access with the usage of a pin, finished No. 3.
Hulu has the worst parental controls, according to the report, and does not allow parents to set age-range preferences under the children's profile. (For example, PG-13 and TV-14 content is not separated from TV-PG or Y content.)
The PTC dubbed the report "Dollars and Sense: A Parent's Guide to Streaming Media."
"With streaming increasing in popularity, due in part to increased screen time because of COVID lockdowns, families need to know which services will be most cost-effective. But they also need to know which services will best protect children from harmful content," said Tim Winter, president of the PTC. "Our report evaluates the most popular services for both price and parental controls.
"While our study found Paramount+, Peacock, and Hulu to be the most cost-effective streamers, those same services do not provide robust parental controls or enough distinction between age-appropriate programming. … Given that Hulu is owned by Walt Disney, we were surprised and disappointed that it didn't have better parental controls," Winter said.
The report urges all streaming services to adopt "reliable gating/blocking technology" measures.
"All streaming services need to follow Netflix's lead and allow parents to block individual titles," the report says.
Further, the report calls on the streaming and entertainment industry to "uniformly and consistently" apply ratings and content descriptions (such as S, D, L, V) across all services. The report referenced a 2020 PTC study that found many Netflix shows rated TV-14 "contained adult content that should have warranted a higher age-rating." The report said, "Content descriptors should be used consistently across streaming platforms."
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.