Best Parental Controls: Netflix vs. Amazon, Apple + Google TV

Hulu released the latest version of Hulu Plus for iOS this week.  It delivers some bug fixes and enhancements, but the most notable addition is the Kids Lock button.

Now, parents can rest assured that what the kids are watching is appropriate for them.  Launch the app, click on the Kids Lock button and everything on Hulu Kids is all the kids are ever going to see.

If the adults want to watch shows more suited for their age, they just need to enter their Hulu password to access their favorite shows.  No more worrying about your two year old watching Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt 23.

Video streaming is quite popular these days because more people want videos on demand.  While most adults watch shows with mature content, there’s always the kids to consider.  So as on-demand content becomes more personalized, it will need to become more secure in support of multiple account types as well.

Here’s some other parental control options for your favorite media streaming services.  How do they stack up and which offers the best parental controls for your needs?



Parents are happy with Netflix’s service but they are unsatisfied with its parental controls, since they’re time consuming and are comprised of numerous steps.  First of all, you’ll need to pull up your Netflix account on the computer.  Adding insult to injury, it takes eight hours for the new settings to take effect.

Also, if you restrict adult shows, shows that haven’t been rated can’t be accessed as well.  So even if the show is suited for minors but was not rated, your child can’t watch it.

Netflix Parental Controls Rant

Last year, Netflix introduced the Just for Kids tab on its app.  Clicking on the tab on your iPad will deliver content meant for kids.  It wasn’t clarified if kids can still access other Netflix content if the Just for Kids tab is selected.

Apple TV


It’s easy to set up Apple TV parental controls.  Just go to Settings, then choose General, Parental Controls, and turn it on.  You will then be asked to set a four-digit passcode, verify the passcode, and once it’s confirmed, just click the OK button.  You can now choose which media services to restrict.

And that’s the problem.

Clicking on a particular service will restrict everything in it, you would have to enter your passcode to watch it.  For example, you chose to restrict YouTube, Netflix and Hulu.  If your kids want to watch their favorite cartoon show on Netflix, they can’t unless you enter the passcode.  And if you enter the passcode, they can fully access Netflix, even the shows you don’t want them to watch, unless you set up parental controls on Netflix as well.

Amazon Instant Video


Most people believe that Amazon doesn’t offer Parental Controls on its on-demand video service, but it does.  Just go to Amazon Instant Video Settings and Devices, select the level of Parental Controls to apply to your selected devices, and select each registered device to which you want to apply Parental Controls.

Also, if you are using a Kindle Fire HD, it has Kindle FreeTime, which is a free service that allows parents to create a profile for each of their children and choose what books, apps, games and videos they want to give their kids access to.

Google TV


This is probably the worst video service for concerned parents, as it doesn’t offer Parental Controls directly.  Google TV relies on your set-top box, or a V-Chip, to put restrictions on content.  If Parental Controls on your set-top box aren’t set and you’re using Google TV, better make sure that whenever your kid is in front of the TV, you are with them to monitor what they watch.  Otherwise, Google TV may not be your best option.

The verdict


Of all the video services, Amazon seems to be the one that offers the best parental controls, since you can choose which devices get restricted and what types of programs will be blocked.  The ability to support multiple accounts is certainly the direction of the future, and Amazon is well aware of the importance of digital product distribution directly to consumers.