As the digital world continues to evolve, younger generations are getting increasingly tech-savvy, and everything is more connected than ever before. As a result of this evolution, in today's world, kids have increased access to a range of media devices.
In fact, this report from Ofcom offers an interesting insight into the regular use of media devices among different age demographics in the UK, by type:
As you can see, the television set has a high level of usage across all youth demographics and mobile phone usage shows a significant peak among those aged 12 - 15.
Another interesting finding from the report was based on usage by gender. The study showed that boys aged 8 to 11 spend more hours online than girls in a typical week. What's more, girls aged 12 to 15 spend, on average, around 21 and a half hours per week using their mobile phone - nearly 50% higher than boys of the same age group.
What is clear from these findings is that due to the colossal amount of time youngsters spend usage media devices, implementing robust parental controls is essential.
According to Parents TV, among the top SVOD providers, there's little or no consistency in the application of age-based content ratings.
Netflix uses a mix of TVOMB and MPAA ratings, but only offers age-based guidance with no content warnings or descriptors, and ratings are applied across a whole series rather than individual episodes. Amazon also uses a mix of TVOMB and MPAA ratings that don't apply ratings to individual episodes, but what's particularly striking is the fact that it doesn't offer consistency in the application of content warnings and descriptors.
In terms of parental controls, Hulu does actually apply ratings to individual episodes and is alone among the SVOD providers that the report found using content descriptors.
To get a better understanding of where the big SVOD providers stand in terms of parental controls, here’s their grading chart:
It's plain to see that while some child safety measures have been taken regarding SVOD content, more needs to be done so parents can safeguard their young, impressionable children against offensive material or productions that fall above their age range.
The Parents Television Council have openly stated that controls on streaming services are lax, discovering that most original streamed content was rated for mature audiences (TV-MA).
There is plenty of fun, engaging, child-friendly content across the big SVOD services but the problem is easy access and minimal guidance on everything else.
While many see the virtues of SVOD, if service providers don't begin to provide more robust parental controls, it could drive family viewership away over time.
But, this doesn't need to be the case: if you're an SVOD provider, keep on doing what you're doing but make sure you put solid parental controls in place: that way, you'll keep everyone happy.
If you are a Cleeng SVOD broadcaster and you need to enable a parental control feature, contact our sales team.