It's almost as if the iPad were designed for a toddler's natural swipes, and parents now can feel more comfortable handing over their devices. Netflix today (Oct. 1) added its "Just for Kids" section to its iPad version. Mom or dad can tap a button on the app and launch the channel filled with content for the under-12 set that has been designed for pre-readers and readers alike.
While Netflix Kids has been available on desktop, Xbox and other platforms, the iPad is the first mobile device to get the kid-friendly channel. (Netflix plans to release an Android app before the end of the year.)
Recognizable characters, including Curious George, Dora the Explorer and Arthur, are featured across the top, so kids can choose their favorites. Netflix offers TV episodes from popular animated shows as well as movies with G and PG ratings.
However, not all shows are rated. Plenty, such as Marvel's "Planet Hulk," have an "NR" for "not rated," the same term that officially means the movie was not submitted to the Motion Picture Association of America to be rated. That can pose an issue for parents who are concerned about age-appropriate content. While the Netflix "Just for Kids" programs have been screened by the company, what's appropriate for a 12-year-old may not be suitable for her preschool sibling. Netflix does not make distinctions between G, PG and NR content or offer parental controls within the channel, which means it still may require parental guidance.
But the company does offer kid-friendly categories, so children can choose shows based on what they've watched in the past (the same way Netflix makes recommendations based on previous viewing in its regular app) and new categories such as Sing-Alongs, Superheroes , Pets and "Watch with the Family." Some of the sorting seems a bit arbitrary — Is "Heidi" really a sing-along? — but it's a good place to enjoy classics as well as modern fare like "Rugrats."
Netflix is available in the App Store for free, but parents must subscribe to the monthly service, starting at $8 for unlimited streaming.