Netflix adds per-title PIN locks, visible maturity ratings to improve parental controls

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In a bid to make the streaming service more appealing to sensitive parents, Netflix has instituted a pair of new features allowing more restrictions over what their children watch — the first being a more nuanced PIN-lock system.

Netflix account holders can now assign four-digit PINs to individual movies and TV shows, according to an announcement. Previously people were only able to block material behind a particular "maturity level," such as Teens (PG-13) and Adults (R, NC-17, unrated).

While in most cases the system will be used to further censor what children see, in some cases it could actually open up material to younger audiences, for instance allowing access to all but the most risque Teens content.

Netflix is also highlighting ratings when a video starts. This includes not just its MPAA rating but the (spoiler-free) reason for that designation, so that people who object to sex, nudity, or violence — or don't want to scare their kids — can quickly switch to something else.

The easiest way to manage parental controls is on the Web. A dedicated Netflix app is of course available for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV.