Disney+ parents’ guide: what is it and is it safe for kids?
It’s not been easy spending most of the past few months indoors – but it would’ve been a lot harder for many of us without on-demand video services.
In the middle of the chaos, Disney made its long-awaited foray into the UK streaming landscape with Disney+. And in the two months since it launched, the service has enjoyed unprecedented success.
But is it as good as advertised – and is it safe for families? Here’s what parents and carers need to know.
What is Disney+?
It’s Disney’s new, subscription-based service, which gives users access to most of the entertainment company’s library of films and shows – from classics such as Snow White and Bambi to newer additions including Coco and Frozen 2.
But there’s more. Much more. Although we tend to associate the Disney name with timeless cartoons and cutesy animations, Disney+ also features all of the content under the company’s umbrella, including the Star Wars films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the entire Simpsons back catalogue and a host of National Geographic documentaries.
With one Disney+ subscription you can create up to seven profiles and four people can stream at the same time. What’s more, the service is very accessible, as it’s available on a range of different devices including laptops, smartphones, smart TVs and games consoles.
All titles can be downloaded to your devices, so your child won’t need to be connected to Wi-Fi to be able to watch their favourite films or shows. This could come in handy if your bandwidth is stretched between several family members during working hours and your child wants to kick back with their tablet.
Why is it so popular?
Netflix remains the undisputed champion of the streaming services, but Disney+ has stolen the hearts of many families looking for some nice, familiar entertainment to keep them company in lockdown.
Its main selling point is, of course, that it includes some of the best-loved family-friendly films and franchises of all time.
That doesn’t mean there’s nothing new on there, though: taking inspiration from Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ has also started producing its own original films and series. It’s still early days on that front, but Star Wars fans in particular have made positive noises about The Mandalorian.
Another bonus is that it’s priced slightly cheaper than many of its competitors, at £5.99 per month.
Will my child be able to access inappropriate content?
Most of the films and shows currently on Disney+ were created with a young audience in mind, but parents might not be comfortable with their child watching the likes of Star Wars and the Marvel films just yet.
Disney’s solution is to offer a ‘Kid’s profile’ option, which restricts all content intended for children older than seven years and also makes the interface easier for children to navigate.
In practice, it’s only a partial success. For starters, the content accessible via a Kid’s profile doesn’t always match up with Disney’s own age ratings. For instance, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones is rated 6+ on Disney but isn’t included in a Kid’s profile – whereas the Descendants films, which come with a 9+ rating, are all there.
There’s no way to tailor the profile for children of different ages, or remove specific films and shows from a profile as you can on Netflix. Nor does it offer PIN protection for profiles – so although your child’s profile won’t feature any inappropriate content, there’s nothing stopping them from going onto yours or creating another without the block in place.
That said, the child-friendly interface works well and most content on Disney+ is fine for all but the youngest children anyway.
Here’s how to set it up:
On the app
- Click the ‘Profile’ icon in the bottom-right corner of the screen when you’re logged in.
- Hit ‘Add profile’ at the top of the screen and select a profile picture.
- You will then be asked to name the profile – below the naming field there’s a slider named ‘Kid’s profile’. Tap the slider and hit ‘Save’ in the top-right corner.
- Hover over the ‘Profile’ icon in the top-right corner of the screen when logged in.
- Select ‘Add profile’ from the drop-down menu and select a profile picture.
- You will then be asked to name the profile – below the naming field there’s a slider named ‘Kid’s profile’. Tap the slider and hit ‘Save’ underneath the slider.
What’s it like for children and young people?
Disney has been an integral part of people’s childhoods for generations and the charming characters and heartwarming stories still resonate with audiences worldwide. The streaming service brings everything under one roof and young people will no doubt have a blast exploring the nooks and crannies of Disney’s catalogue.
The service is very easy to wrap your head around – especially if you’ve enabled the kid’s profile mode – and young people can quickly find the content they’re looking for by searching for titles, characters or actors.
Whether your child has just started school or is about to enter adulthood, they’ll find something to sink their teeth into on Disney+.
What else should parents know?
Ahead of its launch, there was a lot of debate over what content should be included on the new streaming platform. Disney’s roster of animations stretches back to the late 1920s and some of its content has been criticised for including outdated and inappropriate racial stereotypes.
Although the worst offenders, such as Song of the South, have deliberately not been included on the platform, some of the older films contain characters which would be considered insensitive by today’s standards, for instance the native Americans in Peter Pan and the Jim Crow character in Dumbo.
Disney has added disclaimers to the films this applies to, which parents might want to look out for when choosing what to watch on the service.
Disney+: the Parent Zone verdict
Many films and TV shows aimed at kids can be a chore to sit through as a parent, but everyone loves the occasional Disney film.
With Disney+, you have all the timeless gems in one place, wrapped up in one neat package and with more content being added each month.
Having used the service for a few months, our impression is that it’s very reliable – the streaming experience is rarely interrupted by error messages or connectivity issues.
The platform itself doesn’t offer much in terms of settings, but the majority of content on offer will be suitable for the whole family to enjoy together.
So if you’re wondering what to watch on your next family movie night, chances are Disney+ will have the answer.