With people spending more time online, it’s important to have clear and consistent information on the content available and, in particular, which content is suitable for children under 18.
To try and achieve this, online streaming service Netflix is now using an algorithm to give age ratings to all its content in the UK.
In the last decade, the number of Netflix subscribers has skyrocketed from less than 22 million in 2011, to nearly 150 million last year.
A significant proportion of users are families with young children. Therefore, it’s essential to flag content like sex scenes, swear words, or depictions of violence.
How does the algorithm work?
The new algorithm was developed by Netflix alongside the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). Data was collected by employees and then fed into the algorithm. It will now be used across the entire catalogue going forward.
According to the BBFC, 85% of parents and 95% of teenagers want age ratings, such as U, PG, 12A, 15, and 18, on streaming platforms like Netflix.
Although Netflix already uses age ratings on films already classified for cinema or DVD purposes, this is the first time a streaming service is voluntarily giving ratings for films that didn’t have a physical-media release.
Protecting children online
In an increasingly digital world, it’s more important than ever to protect children from the risks of online content. Measures like age ratings mean parents can effectively filter content and edit their children’s profiles to make sure they only see content that’s age-appropriate.
Netflix director of ratings policy and compliance Jessica Stansfield said: “We wanted our members to see the same trusted age ratings on our service as they recognise from cinema and DVD – to simplify the process of choosing content, however they watch.”
It’s hoped that this will be rolled out by other streaming services, as well as social media platforms, in the near future.