Call to streaming services to create more family-friendly content

(Photo: Unsplash/Sayan Ghosh)

(CP) A parental advisory group is calling on streaming services to provide more family-friendly entertainment after its latest report found the amount of mature content across major platforms outnumbers material suitable for families.

The Parents Television and Media Council released a report this month titled, Families Need Not Subscribe: An Analysis of the Scarcity of Family Content on Streaming Platforms.

According to the PTC, there are 541 MA-rated original series across the major streaming services compared to 87 TV-PG-rated and 60 TV-G-rated original series. The group noted that there is at least 268% more adult-only entertainment on streaming platforms than there is family-friendly content.

For its report, PTC analyzed multiple streaming platforms, including Apple TV+, Hulu, Max, Netflix, Paramount+, Peacock and Prime Video. In addition to calling for more family-centered programs on streaming services, PTC wants Congress to renew the Family Movie Act of 2005 to include streaming media platforms.

The organization would also like to see the Federal Trade Commission revise the Child Safe Viewing Act, which Congress passed in 2008 before many of the major streaming platforms existed.

In an interview with The Christian Post, PTC Vice President Melissa Henson said there are several bills intended to address various media-related problems, such as the Kids Online Safety Act and the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

While she noted that attempts to update the Family Movie Act have so far been unsuccessful, she cited PTC's report as a reason why families need more control over the type of media coming into their homes.

Henson acknowledged that some might argue that parents shouldn't watch shows or movies with their children that they feel are inappropriate, but the PTC VP asserted that this is not a "long-term solution."

"As our data points out, you could probably watch the entire catalog of G and PG-rated programming that's available across the multitude of streaming services within a year," she said. "There is just so little that is out there, and then, where are families left to go?"

Henson stressed that the issue is more than just parents not being able to have a family movie night with their children, explaining how families not having content to watch with each other can lead to isolation.

"Increasingly, what we are seeing in homes across America is that each member of the family retreats into their own corner of the home with their phone or their laptop or their tablet, and they consume their own media in isolation," Henson said. "They're not interacting with other family members; they're not engaging with real people.

"And I think kids are suffering for that lack of human connection. They're suffering from feelings of isolation, not just from friends, but now from family, because they're not spending that time together."

As Henson noted, one survey cited in PTC's report found that 62% of respondents said that watching television together as a family helped them bond, yet another survey found that 16.3% said they watch television with children younger than 18.

"So you have to wonder, where's that disconnect? Where's that 40-plus percent gap between people who say, 'Yes, this is an important thing for me,' but they're not doing it," Henson said. "Why are they not doing it? I think it's because there just aren't that many options for them."

Henson contended that it would be a strategic imperative for streaming services to appeal to families by providing more appropriate entertainment instead of focusing on single adults.

She asserted that the former category of consumers is more likely to maintain their subscription compared to young, single adults. The latter category may subscribe to a service temporarily before canceling it and moving on to another once they become interested in a show that another platform offers.

Regarding the resources available for parents seeking appropriate entertainment to watch with their children, one of the options Henson recommended is a program called VidAngel. The service allows parents to skip content they find objectionable based on their preferences.

"So, for example, if you want to watch 'The Crown' with your 13-year-old, but you know that it's rated TV-MA because of some occasional language or innuendo, you can use the filters," Henson said. "And you can be very targeted with the filters of VidAngel to say I'm OK with mild profanity like hell, but I'm not okay with the F-word."

On its website, PTC offers reviews and a brief content analysis of several shows it recommends, such as "Far Haven" and "Miracle in East Texas." As the mother of a 15-year-old son, Henson also expressed empathy for parents searching for content to watch with their children, sharing that she and her son enjoy "Shark Tank."

"There are some good programs out there for families," Henson said.

© The Christian Post