Parental Controls for Streaming Video
Streaming video online is a wonderful and convenient way to watch all your favorite shows and movies – and it’s far less expensive than cable. Unfortunately, if you’re a parent, these services don’t often provide safeguard measures to block certain content from your children.
To help you determine which services provide some controls, and what alternative measures are available, here is a breakdown of parental controls available for streaming video:
Apple TV works in conjunction with iTunes, and the service allows you to set parental controls by defining allowable content for movies, television, and other media. You can set the controls for movies and television shows based on ratings, and if a user tries to access content that is on the blocked list, a passcode must be entered. You can also set controls for other services that are utilized through the set box, such as Netflix and YouTube.
Many parents have decried the lack of real parental control on Netflix. However, there are some options available. You can choose to block content for the account based on ratings. Blocking this content effectively blocks it for all users, including the parents. You can change the settings when you log in, but the changes could take up to eight hours to take effect. This is not very convenient for “instant” watching.
VUDU allows you to set parental controls for each device that you have, such as a blu-ray player or streaming box. Controls allow you to set a passcode for purchasing movies or to set a passcode for accessing content that has previously been blocked based on ratings.
While Hulu does not have true parental controls, determining what content can be accessed or should be blocked, it does require that users be 18 to have an account. Mature content can only be accessed by registered users. However, if you do not log out of your account, or if you have older children who are Internet savvy and know how to create a dummy account, this will not be much of a hurdle. This may work well if you have young children.
For the dozens of sites that offer streaming content from a central site or for those services that do not have parental controls, you can purchase software or devices that block general Internet content based on your preferences. Family Safe Media (http://www.familysafemedia.com/) has some of these products available, including a wireless router that has the ability to filter content, or parental control software.
Of course, the best parental control is you as a parent. Have conversations with your children about responsible Internet usage and what content is appropriate to access.
Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blogger for First in Education where she’s recently written about online library science programs along with a piece on online nuclear medicine technology programs. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, traveling, and working with origami.