Whenever I start up Netflix, I'm asked if I want to create an account for my children.
I don't have children. I don't want children. I find most children annoying - not yours, obviously, yours are lovely. But I resent being asked every single time whether my imaginary kids want an account. It's just annoying.
I can't imagine what it is like for bereaved parents who have recently lost a child. Or for those struggling with fertility issues. That constant reminder every time they try to numb the pain with a sitcom.
For some reason, all the streaming services are desperate for me to add accounts for my (imaginary) children. Are they worried about being sued if little Jimothy accidentally hears a swear word? Thankfully, Netflix lets you delete this imaginary child.
The BBC's iPlayer is less enlightened. They recently forced an "add child account" setting to the front page. It is impossible to remove it.
The BBC believes that every household has children.
What an utterly bizarre choice. pic.twitter.com/lHDIy6RR8L
— Terence Eden (@edent) June 1, 2020
Apparently, it is technically impossible to remove an option which has recently appeared.
Amazon Prime has the same forced default child-profile. Although, thankfully, they allow you to remove it with a couple of clicks.
Channel 4 goes a step further. Any time I want to watch anything with sex, drugs, or violence - I have to confirm that I don't want to set up a parental lock.
There's no way that I can find to dismiss the screen. That's an extra click for my RSI-ridden hands every time I want to watch a stupid game show.
Here's the thing. The majority of households in the UK don't have kids.
London contained the highest proportion of families with dependent children in 2019; accounting for half of all families in London, compared with the UK average of 42.0%.
There's this weird belief that everything needs to be made safe for children. Even if no children are present, we have to protect them. That has led to some weird antipatterns.
Frankly, if a child somehow makes it into my home, and is left unsupervised long enough to work out which of the 7 remote controls turns on the TV and surround sound system, and figures out how to access Netflix - I'd say they're mature enough to watch whatever they want.
What's the solution?
I get that making your UI easy for harried parents is a priority. They're a big market - and they can be vocal about any perceived harm to their little ones. But there's no reason to keep showing the option if someone doesn't engage with it. You can ask if a child profile is necessary during set up. If you have a pop-up asking if a user wants a child-friendly account, make sure it has a "never ask me again" option.
The world doesn't revolve around children. It's OK to let people who don't have kids use your services without frustration.