What Are Your Kids Watching When You’re Not Watching?
I try to monitor what my kids watch and I assume most other parents do too. Since we don’t have cable, monitoring what my kids watch is probably a little easier than it was when I was growing up (I’ve spoken before about the types of things I watched when I was younger because I had access to 24/7 cable TV, a TV in my room and a lot of time on my hands.)
Thankfully(?) my kids watch most of their TV via Netflix via XBox. Netflix has added some useful filters to their system over the past year to help better monitor exactly what it is your children are consuming when you’re not around.
Netflix Kids is a special area of Netflix Streaming that is designed for the “12 and under” crowd. It has easy to navigate menus (what they call a “Character Navigation Bar”) and will only show family friendly titles in the search results. It’s a safe zone.
Netflix finally launched Personalized Profiles for every member of the family who is watching Netflix Streaming under the same account. Not only is this useful at keeping “Wild Kratts” and “Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman” out of my own personal “Recently Watched” queue, it also helps to tailor the user’s personal experience by using algorithms to suggest similar content to what has already been watched on that profile. Plus, each account can have separate parental controls assigned to it so if the kids happen to not log into the “Netflix Kids” section, at least their own accounts are also set up to allow them to only view content that is suitable for “12 & Under”.
Each profile has a “Recently Watched” queue to show the user what their past viewing habits have been. This is a really helpful tool to check to see what the kids have watched and whether or not it’s something you need to discuss with them. Prior to the individual profiles and Netflix Kids section, every now and again I would see something in the Recently Watched queue and have to ask my wife if she watched it or if the kids watched it. Then I would have to have a discussion with my kids that, just because a show is animated does not mean it is appropriate for children (I’m looking at you “Family Guy“).
While Netflix has added some great tools to help better monitor what your kids are watching, it doesn’t take the place of being actively engaged with your kids about the media they consume. Sitting down with your kids to watch a movie or a TV show is a good way to have a shared experience with your kids. It can also foster communication and discussion regarding what they liked or disliked about what they saw and help you to understand your kids a little more.
I love watching movies and TV with my kids; sharing some of my favorite shows and movies from when I was a kid and seeing if they like them. Before sitting down to watch a movie with my kids (specifically one I haven’t seen before), I typically go online and check reviews, ratings, etc. If you are not entirely sure if a movie or TV show is appropriate for your child, you can always try watching it first or you can check out Common Sense Media to get a better understanding of what themes are involved and possible discussion topics for after the movie. We sat down to watch “Annie” the other night and completely forgot how drunk Miss. Hannigan (Carol Burnett) is throughout the entire film. Plus, Annie gets into a dangerous spot at the end which involves a kidnapping and nearly falling to her death from the top of a bridge. This last part scared my five-year-old but it all had a happy ending and the movie ends in a big song and dance number, which quickly turned the anxious feelings into happy feelings.
How closely do you monitor what your kids are watching? What about the music they listen to? And internet usage?