What is it?
Netflix is an on-demand online video streaming service.
Once subscribed, you can watch Netflix content on a desktop computer, smartphones, tablets, many smart TVs, some Blu-ray players, media streaming players such as AppleTV and Chromecast, PS3, PS4, Wii, WiiU, Xbox 360, XboxOne and set top boxes from BT, Virgin, TalkTalk, Sony, Philips and YouView. Phew!
You can create up to 5 accounts within one subscription, controlled by a password-protected master account.
Cost: £5.99 a month for the Basic package (watch on one screen at time); £7.49 for Standard (watch on two screens at a time and in HD); £8.99 for Premium (watch on four screens at a time and in Ultra HD). [Prices correct as of February 2016.]
What they say
‘No contracts. No catch, No worries. Join the internet TV revolution.’
What’s the reality?
Netflix has a great range of content available on a huge variety of devices. It offers everything from child-friendly movies and TV shows, including Pixar films, Peppa Pig and Spongebob Squarepants, to the grittier original adult content of House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and the recent documentary series Making of a Murderer.
What parents need to know
We found parental controls were well flagged and easy to set up. Find them on your Account page, under Manage Profiles. Set them for the master account and they apply to all devices you then associate with it.
You can set up a separate account for up to five people and tailor the settings to the age of the individuals by choosing one of four maturity levels, which determines what they will be able to view: Little Kids, Older Kids, Teens and Adults.
If you just want to view child-friendly content on any account, choose the Kids link at the top of the screen. To find out about Netflix's ratings criteria, click here.
In theory, a child can click on an adult's icon, but they will be asked for the account PIN before they can switch users. Be aware that once you have entered a PIN you won’t be asked again on that device until you sign out of your account. Remember to log out of the device or the desktop site on a PC or laptop if a child could use it after you.
As an additional safety feature, you recieve an email if you update your PIN on any account. The email tells you what your new PIN is, so make sure your child can’t access your email account if you want to keep it from them.
It has a great range of viewing suitable for all the family. Easy to set up and available on many devices, Netflix has robust and easy to use safety features, providing you keep your PIN and password secure.
One issue to keep in mind is that content is region-specific and many people use VPNs (virtual private networks) to access foreign Netflix feeds if the content on them isn't available on the UK version. (Netflix has denied recent reports saying they have changed their policies to crack down on this.)
In our experience, it is often older children and teens who are asked by parents to sort this out in the belief that they are more technologically-minded.
In theory, this could be seen as developing behaviours in young people that could lead to them moving onto exploring the darker side of the internet and the often challenging content they may find there. Our view is that the best way to counter this is to have frank discussions with your older children about what they may find there. You can read more about the Dark Web here.
Parent Zone’s verdict
We know an offer to 'Netflix and chill' means something naughty among the youth of today, but this is actually a great, family-friendly product, providing you take care setting it up.